[Susan Joy] Hassol gave a memorable overview of the many wonk words that climate scientists use that backfire in communication with the public—or just fail completely to convey what scientists actually mean. “Anthropogenic,” for instance. How many times, she noted, have you heard someone try to sound smart and say “anthropomorphic” instead? And those are the ones that are trying to get it right.
Other words that backfire or have different meanings than scientists think? “Radiation.” “Errors.” “Models.” “Theory.” Oh, and especially “aerosols.” When people hear about aerosols, Hassol emphasized, they think of spray cans. What a perfect way of reinforcing the widespread misconception that climate change has something to do with the hole in the ozone layer.
And there was much more. You can read the full piece here.
Interestingly, some news was made–sort of. Holdren announced that with regard to the long awaited scientific integrity guidelines his office was tasked to produce in early 2009…guidelines he’s been criticized for not yet releasing….he’s almost there and they should be out this month.
To quote Holdren, producing the guidelines–to cover scientific integrity practices across agencies of the U.S. government–”has been a more challenging task than expected, it has taken much longer than it was supposed to.” Holdren continued by stating that he had hoped to announce the guidelines in his AGU talk but “didn’t quite make it–but we are very close.”
How close? Holdren’s powerpoint put up the date “12-10″ for their release–e.g., this month. I’m sure that will be a relief to many.
Besides this nugget, Holdren’s talk was basically a vast compendium of all of the things the administration is doing to promote science and its relation to policy. And it really is quite a set of accomplishments (the integrity guidelines problem notwithstanding). Listening to it all inspired me to write a longer post comparing Obama-Holdren with Bush-Marburger, so stand by for that.
For now I’ll leave you with what was arguably Holdren’s most striking quote about Obama and science: “No president has ever talked as much about science, technology, and innovation as this president has.” Or as Holdren closed his talk, the “lynchpin” to having science positively impact the country is “a committed president. And fortunately, we have one.”
I’ll have more on Holdren’s talk soon.
I just learned last night that the numbers are still rising and now 19,200 people are expected to attend the AGU fall meeting here in San Francisco. And maybe by the end it will get to the magic number–20,000.
That doesn’t make it the biggest scientific conference in the world. The Society for Neuroscience annual meeting is considerably larger, though their numbers seem to be falling from a peak of nearly 35,000 in 2005.
Still, the scale of the AGU event is pretty staggering. For geoscientists, it is definitely the place you have to be every year.
Are there any other scientific meetings, besides AGU and Neuroscience, that get this large I wonder?
P.S.: I should add, it is my understanding that this will be AGU’s largest meeting ever, and thus also the largest geosciences meeting in the world…
The American Geophysical Union’s board of directors has approved two new members who will bring expertise in science policy and communication: policy advisor Floyd DesChamps and author Chris Mooney. Their selection reflects AGU’s commitment to applying the results of scientific research to challenges faced by the global community, many of which are based in the geosciences. Read More