I recently sat down with Lindsay Patterson at EarthSky to discuss the state of science literacy in the United States.
Here’s an excerpt from the transcript:
Sheril Kirshenbaum: I think right now we are touching on an area where there is enormous opportunity. We have a very well-educated group of young people earning degrees looking to use what they know to contribute to society.
Kirshenbaum said part of contributing to the public’s understanding of science is making scientific research more accessible, through new media like Twitter or YouTube, or speaking publicly about their work and discoveries. Kirshenbaum said that today, fewer scientists are ending up in tenure-track, or permanent positions in a university. That’s why scientists who are experts in their field, and can also write or speak to the public, are at an advantage.
Sheril Kirshenbaum: Why not work with people who are thinking about science careers, but teach them science and something else? Enable young scientists to work with journalists and writers and gain skills to communicate that way. Get them more comfortable talking to media. Create the jobs for renaissance scientists, this new generation that’s going to have to step up and be prepared to tackle things we haven’t found solutions for already.
More at EarthSky…
Another scientist is taking a different approach to geoengineering. Instead of looking to the sky for solutions, he’s looking to the ocean. Victor Smetacek, a German oceanographer, is trying to cool the planet by growing carbon-absorbing gardens in parts of the ocean with little life.
In 2009, Smetacek and a team of Indian and German scientists added 6 tons of iron into a section of the Southern Ocean, which rings Antarctica, to see if they could get a massive bloom of algae to flourish. Read More
Many people are confused about the relationship between weather and climate, and Jeff Masters did a nice job of explaining the difference today on NPR’s Morning Edition:
Meteorologist Jeff Masters, with the Web site Weather Underground, says it’s average temperatures — not snowfall — that really measure climate change.
“Because if it’s cold enough to snow, you will get snow,” Masters says. “We still have winter even if temperatures have warmed on average, oh, about 1 degree Fahrenheit over the past 100 years.”
Masters say that 1 degree average warming is not enough to eliminate winter. Or storms.
A storm is part of what scientists classify as weather. Weather is largely influenced by local conditions and changes week to week. It’s fickle — fraught with wild ups and downs.
Climate is the long-term trend of atmospheric conditions across large regions, even the whole planet. Changes in climate are slow and measured in decades, not weeks.
Go listen to the full clip by Christopher Joyce here.