Published on Dec 30, 2015
AGU 14 December 2015: If You See Something, Say Something
Speakers: Michael Mann (Pennsylvania State University), Kent Peacock (University of Lethbridge)
Scientists have a collective ethical obligation to communicate the implications of their science and to communicate it as accurately and fully as possible. Nowhere is that obligation more profound than in areas of research, like climate change, where the stakes are so great, and where societal decision-making demands the most accurate assessments of risk.
If scientists remain on the sidelines, they insure that others with an axe to grind will fill the void, game the process of risk assessment, and insure sub-optimal policy decision-making. But simple participation is not adequate either. Scientists, when they communicate climate change risk, must resist the temptation to downplay high-risk and high-cost scenarios in an effort simply to avoid criticism by contrarians.
Otherwise, the net affect is the same, with bad faith actors achieving their goal of minimizing the emphasis placed on mitigation efforts in the policymaking process. We will discuss some examples including the critically important case of ice sheet collapse and sea level rise.