When Scientists Speak Out: The Anti-MTR Message Makes it to Colbert

By Chris Mooney | January 19, 2010 12:00 pm

Last week, I wrote at Science Progress about how a group of scientists had dealt a devastating blow to the practice of MTR (mountaintop removal mining) with a good paper, some luck, and a good communications plan.

Now, the point is driven home further, as the chief scientist involved, Dr. Margaret Palmer of the University of Maryland, was actually invited on The Colbert Report to discuss her work. Of course, the blowing up of mountains is a perfect Colbert topic, but I felt that Dr. Palmer did a good job, er, sticking to the science. Watch the whole thing:

The Colbert Report Mon – Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Coal Comfort – Margaret Palmer
Colbert Report Full Episodes Political Humor Economy
CATEGORIZED UNDER: Environment, Media and Science

Comments (7)

Links to this Post

  1. science & communication « Phylecia on PR & Social Media | January 21, 2010
  1. Harman Smith

    Very funny… Colbert at his best.

  2. Sheena

    Good segment. It would have been nice if Colbert had allowed Dr. Palmer to talk a bit more on the subject. All-in-all not too bad! Though, I live in Appalachia and I ain’t no hill billy.

  3. Nurse Grace

    Colbert has his science nerd credentials. What other talk or commentary show (whatever you call his type of, uh, news show) even talks about science? He regularly has on various scientists, astrophysicists, anthropologists, &c, discussing critical topics of the day, that the MSM won’t discuss in any intelligible fashion. Colbert makes sure the issues are discussed so that the audience understands the issues at hand.

  4. wv hollergirl

    Finally the truth is out for all to see. Thank you Steven Colbert.
    The coal industry is using 3 1/2 million pounds of explosives daily to blast our homes ans mountains. We live below those sites you saw in the show.
    All the silica, coal dust and blasting agents come down on us and in our homes and lungs. The heavy metals poisons our water.
    A woman loses 10 years off her life is she lives near strip mining- for just living near coal mining.

    Clean coal is a dirty lie.
    I am 8th generation to live here in southern West Virginia- in these hills and hollers- I am a hillbilly and I am proud of it. Stop strip mining and save the endangered hillbilly.

  5. Part of the reason Colbert has scientists and academics on is that they always play it straight. Colbert doesn’t have comedians and entertainers on — that’s his job.


  6. redlink18

    Great segment, I thought! Dr. Palmer seemed like a good sport and an effective communicator of her message at the same time. Also, I liked the way she acknowledged that employment is important and it’s not a matter of needing to stop coal-mining entirely (probably not possible goal at this point, anyway), but of balancing economic needs with the needs of human health and safety. I wish she had a chance to go into a bit more detail about the alternative ways of mining that she mentioned would not have such negative impacts.


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About Chris Mooney

Chris is a science and political journalist and commentator and the author of three books, including the New York Times bestselling The Republican War on Science--dubbed "a landmark in contemporary political reporting" by Salon.com and a "well-researched, closely argued and amply referenced indictment of the right wing's assault on science and scientists" by Scientific American--Storm World, and Unscientific America: How Scientific Illiteracy Threatens Our Future, co-authored by Sheril Kirshenbaum. They also write "The Intersection" blog together for Discover blogs. For a longer bio and contact information, see here.


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