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UQ Physics Colloquium this Friday: Communicating Climate Science and Countering Disinformation

Posted on 23 May 2011 by John Cook

The Physics Department at the University of Queensland have a weekly Physics Colloquium and as an alumni of that department, I'll be talking this week on the topic Communicating Climate Science & Countering Disinformation. Here's the abstract and details:

Where: Room 222, Parnell Building (Building 7)

When: 4 to 5pm, 27th May 2011

There are many roadblocks in communicating the realities of climate change to the general public. Climate science has faced one of the best funded disinformation campaigns in history. Mainstream media has portrayed the impression of a 50/50 debate when in reality, 97% of climate scientists are convinced of man-made global warming. On top of these external influences, a number of psychological barriers remain. Ideology, fear of change and the conceptual difficulties of long-term climate trends all make it difficult for people to grasp the threat of global warming. Climate communicators need to navigate all these barriers. As well as explaining the science, countering disinformation requires providing an alternative narrative on how disinformers mislead as well as explaining the science. I outline ways to frame the science in terms the general public understand. I also explain the main rhetorical techniques of climate deniers, and how to rebut common climate myths.

All are welcome to attend. To those who I forgot to invite to the Brisbane launch, you're welcome to drop by and chew me out for my absent mindedness.

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Comments 1 to 7:

  1. I think it would help to communicate the realities of climate change if references to the Doran study were removed. According to the study 82% of participants thought that human activities (without specifying which) were a significant factor in changing global temperatures. CO2 was never mentioned. In fact among climatologists, the number was only 88% (not 97%), and nowhere did it saw they were convinced. Part of the difficulty among those of us who which to communicate climate change effectively is overcoming these types of errors which have been used against us as examples of "exaggerations." It is difficult to counter disinformation from our adversaries, but it is even more difficult when the perpretrators are our own.
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  2. Eric, ??? The study clearly states that the 97% of actively publishing climate scientists comes from:
    ...those who listed climate science as their area of expertise and who also have published more than 50% of their recent peer-reviewed papers on the subject of climate change...
    How is this in any way a problem? The CO2 nitpick is similarly silly. Obviously the problem is more nuanced than just CO2, yet the implication that maybe some of those scientists might subscribe to the Pielke "it's land use" or some other variation, and would have ticked off "no" if the question had explicitly stated CO2 emissions, is absurd. This train of thought is a real stretch in trying to diminish the authority or reach of the Doran study. P.S. Your post has a serious "concern troll" scent to it.
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  3. John, any chance of someone recording and posting a video?
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    Response: [JC] I'll ask but I'm doubtful. Update: turns out people on campus have asked for the talk to be videoed and they'll be posting it online. So a video of the talk will be available.
  4. Bob, What do you take me for a fool? We both know that using that survey to support global warming is fruitless and open to ridicule. I have even seen one person (jokingly) state that half of the observed warming was due to urbanization and a recent survey showed that it was supported by 97% of climatologists. No, this was not on Pielke's website. You may use the results of this survey if you like, but be warned, it will seriously diminish your credibility in the ensuing argument. The conclusion in the survey is a huge stretch (to use your word) from the actual results. P.S. I grew up in lower Michigan, and have been called that by many a Uper.
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    [DB] The results of the survey Bob references still stand, handwaving and personal experiences aside.  Natives of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan are referred to as Yoopers.  And Bob referred to your comment, not to you.

  5. Well, I guess we just have to disagree on the validity of the survey, and yes the actual spelling is Yooper, sometimes abbreviated as UPer. It was not meant to be taken seriously anyway.
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    Response: [JC] Let's not forget there are two separate surveys using completely different methodologies, both finding a 97% consensus. The Doran et al 2009 interview directly asks Earth scientists "are humans significantly changing global temperature?" The Anderegg et al 2010 survey examines publicly signed declarations by climate scientists to see whether then agree with the tenets of AGW. Two independent approaches arriving at the same conclusion.
  6. John, Can I come to rebut what you say? :)
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    Response: [JC] Yes, but you have to wait patiently till the question part of the talk (and if I see you in the audience with a notebook of tricky questions, I'll make sure my talk goes overtime :-)
  7. Sorry, of topic and all, but I have to do it: QUEENSLANDER QUEENSLANDER QUEENSLANDER!!!!
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    Response: [JC] As a Queenslander, I'm going to allow it.

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