By me, hoisted from the comments, about communicating climate science.
The scientific community has stood firm with climate science throughout, but this fact has had very limited recognition. The preponderance of evidence that CO2 accumulation must be not just slowed but essentially halted becomes more inescapable every year.
Yet many people believe exactly the reverse, largely under the influence of organized PR efforts intended to obscure the evidence.
Scientists have constraints on the time they have to devote to public communication and the ways in which they are expected to communicate. At present the most effective communication seems to come from a few climate bloggers, some anonymous, or from amateurs like Greg Craven or Peter Sinclair. These efforts only arose to fill a gaping vaccuum in professional communication.
However we got to this state, it has to be reversed.
I don't know as preventing the public from having or stating opinions is even possible, and its certainly not a good idea. But people who are not experts should at least keep in mind the possibility that there are other people who understand things better than they do. So that's a shift in the culture that even precedes the shift in consumption habits.
At least it is a shift back to a condition that existed when I was young, when the opinions of scientists really did carry a lot of weight in public discourse, and when real expertise was respected.
The effort to communicate real science in good faith has to be doubled, redoubled, and redoubled again. We really need for people to understand the basic ideas. It needs to be seen as unhip to have your eyes glaze over as soon as argument from evidence begins.
People need to understand that what they "feel" about something is not decisive.
I don't have a single detailed answer for how to get from here to there. I have a dozen ideas, including a couple I am keeping under my hat. I'd be thrilled to dedicate myself to any of them. People I am talking to have dozens more. What we lack is a business model.
Right now, people like Mark Morano or Joe d'Aleo have a career path open to them to muddy the waters. We need ways to create incentives for creative people to make a career advancing, rather than retarding, public understanding of science.
That is not a career in PR as we understand it. There are already environmental advocacy groups out there. I am speaking of something else; the revitalization of conversation between science and the public.
The only thing we can be sure of about the future is that it will be absolutely fantastic. So if what I say now seems to you to be very reasonable, then I have failed completely. Only if what I tell you appears absolutely unbelievable, have we any chance of visualizing the future as it really will happen.
- Arthur C. Clarke (h/t Brin)