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Pitch

Work collaboratively to increase Scientific knowledge . No lasting change can occur without an increase in the education of all people.


Description

Summary

Educators at the university level as well as scientist, engineers and other professionals from the business Community could participate in programs to increase education and eradicate superstition; especially erroneous beliefs about science. Without real understanding people are easily misled into counterproductive behaviors. RISE would be a coordination center and clearing house for educational initiatives both in developing countries and in all ready developed countries. The primary objective of RISE is to raise awareness of basic scientific principles, promote critical thinking and civil discourse and combat long standing cultural, racial, political  and religious biases that conflict with the aforementioned.

RISE would hopefully partner nonprofit, government and business to achieve the stated goals. Pace of implementation and methods could vary widely based on levels of cooperation, available resources and local conditions as well as cultural objections. What works in California won't necessarily work in Afghanistan. Successful approaches could be leveraged by using social media, distance learning and broadcast media to reach the widest audiences possible. 

An additional component of RISE would be to have a network of volunteers to rapidly identify and confront "bad science". This network would go after misinformation in all media platforms, concentrating efforts first on widely held erroneous beliefs and then on specific misinformation in entertainment, news, outright propaganda and other sources of scientific misinformation. A key component is getting the public to recognize  the difference between legitimate scientific debate and nonsensical ideas that try to face down questioning with "well you are just closed minded". 

The possible avenues of delivery of education are limited only by the imagination of those involved. I firmly believe no lasting change can happen unless we can get most people to level where they can join the conversation.

 

 


Category of the action

Changing public perceptions on climate change


What actions do you propose?

RISE programs would increase basic understanding of science and effect a shift in thinking among much of society. An increase in understanding will hopefully result in increased acceptance of sound ideas for the improvement of current conditions, particularly those affecting the climate. A secondary effect of RISE programs would be the marginalization of proponents of erroneous or harmful beliefs. To be blunt, much of the worlds population is lacking in understanding of basic science whether by circumstance or by personal choice. In parts of the world restrictions on education are used to manipulate people for political gain. RISE programs would hopefully cause these restrictive forces to identified for what they are; chains that hold people in thrall to the past. RISE would use all available avenues to raise levels of education, encourage critical thought and civil discourse.

An increase in general scientific education and emphasis on civil discourse would result in more effective exchange of productive ideas. Divisive, unsound ideas will be held by some individuals no matter the level of general education, the goal is to make ignorance the exception rather than the rule and to shine the light of science on misinformation and superstition.

As education is increased adoption of policies affecting the climate will be better understood by the public and legislation should be influenced less by special interest and more by carefully considered scientific proposals. Leadership will be better held to account for decisions by a better educated populace.

With increased understanding of the problems humanity faces and the principles involved in proposed solutions support for action will be based on sound decision making rather than emotional or political consideration.

RISE would be a non-profit organization. Initial organizational structure will be a board of directors consisting of members of the academic community as well as scientist and engineers employed in industry. RISE would attempt to bring together already established programs with similar goals in order to streamline and better target programs.

A collaborative Website would be established(domain name to be determined as RISE.org is all ready in use). The website will provide forums for discussion, forms to input proposed programs, forms to allow individuals to volunteer for programs and links to pertinent articles and sites.

Proposed programs would be reviewed by small panels and if deemed worthy of support would be voted on by committee. The goal is to support  as many different programs as possible, even if the support only consist of advice and promotion. As the organization grows local chapters could develop programs suited to local conditions.

Volunteers will be solicited to help monitor media outlets for innacurate or misleading science stories and respond via articles, letters and other media.

Internet based media such as Youtube would be used to establish a learning network based on real science.

A general guideline for development of programs follows:

n March 2003, communicators gathered at a conference sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). Their main purpose was to identify best practices for communicating information about S&T to the public. A related report (NIST 2002) identifies successful communication programs (based on audience size, number of Web hits, and length of support) and attributes their success to several practices:

  • Illustrating both the process and the product of science
     
  • Involving scientists in a substantial way[**]
     
  • Considering the political climate and/or involving decisionmakers[***]
     
  • Using multimedia, illustrations, and interactivity to bring science to life
     
  • Relating science to the everyday environment
     
  • Avoiding parochialism[****]
     
  • Viewing the topic from the audience's point of view, not the institution's
     
  • Using face-to-face methods
     
  • Reaching out beyond the science-attentive public
     
  • Providing information to the commercial media in easily usable form

According to the NIST report, public education campaigns are being carried out by many of the corporations, hospitals, and government agencies that fund and conduct research. The report also notes that many outreach and education programs sponsored by government laboratories and academic institutions are premised on the assumption that the public has a right to know how its tax dollars are being used.

[*]  Science-attentive members of the public are most likely to be male, young, and affluent. They are also likely to vote, be politically active, be savvy about technology, and understand scientific information with minimal explanation (Borchelt 2002).

[**]  Communicators may encounter resistance when they attempt to involve scientists. A recent survey of scientists (Sigma Xi Membership Poll, conducted with Research!America in 2001) found that 42 percent engaged in no public outreach. Asked why, 76 percent said they did not have time, 28 percent did not want to, and 17 percent did not care. Only 12 percent of the surveyed scientists said they were engaged in political outreach, and 20 percent were in contact with the media.

[***]  A well-designed communication campaign can minimize public and political opposition to new technologies. Such a campaign spelled success for The Orange County (California) Water District's plan to use treated wastewater as a source of drinking water, a technology that failed to gain acceptance in other California communities (Ferch 2002).

[****]  Universities tend to limit their Web-based science reporting to their own research activities. But at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, The Why Files website draws on stories from all sources for its popular "science behind the news" coverage (Devitt 2002).

 

Note that it has been hard to engage working scientist in educational initiatives. Programs to develop more interest in public initiatives among science and engineering professionals will be a priority of RISE.

One key element of RISE is to not frame the arguments for climate change solutions solely on the basis of climate change. The basic argument for adoption of proposed solutions is an improved standard of living combined with less impact on the ecosystem.


Who will take these actions?

A consortium of non-profit, business and government agencies will establish, administer and support programs. Volunteers with backgrounds in the sciences and engineering along with educators and those with experience in using mass media will develop and deliver programs.


Where will these actions be taken?

Actions will be worldwide and differ based on local conditions. Resource availability, cultural considerations and other factors will shape how the program proceeds in each area. In some areas progress will be slow and face much opposition. Courage will be required to confront long held cultural and religious beliefs as well as those that use such beliefs to hold power. Local leaders must be approached in a manner that allows them to see what is beneficial to them in any proposed plans.

 


How much will emissions be reduced or sequestered vs. business as usual levels?

This is hard to quantify. The hope is an exponential decrease in emissions as solutions based on sound science are more readily adopted by the public. Broad solutions that are scientifically sound will hopefully gain more public support. Personal impact on the climate will hopefully be reduced as people better understand the impact of their actions. Many currently available solutions are not used due to unfounded and unscientific fears that will hopefully fade with wider knowledge of the science involved.

 

One role of RISE would be confronting propaganda campaigns that are preventing the adoption of safe, viable solutions to climate problems.

 


What are other key benefits?

Increased standard of living as civil discourse and interaction between a better educated populace results in improvements in infrastructure and societal institutions. It is hoped that with increased knowledge the public will hold those in power more accountable and require sound reasons for the implementations of policies.

Better availability of clean energy which will support a better standard of living. More abundant and nutrient rich food resulting in better health. Raised standards of social interaction and less conflict over scarce resources.

Cheap beer! Just kidding, a little humor to lighten up a pretty dry topic.

If people have a growing economy, a raised standard of living and education it is hoped that the folly of long standing cultural, racial and religious disputes will be realized, allowing mankind to focus on more important matters.

 


What are the proposal’s costs?

Cost will vary by area depending on available resources. Cost can be minimized by using in place delivery systems such as social media, online classrooms, film, radio and television. As much as possible volunteers would support programs which will reduce cost. In some countries access to television will be costly while in others it is relatively inexpensive. delivery of media via he internet can greatly reduce cost. The use of already developed educational materials can also reduce cost. Initial website startup and site promotion along with organization establishment is estimated at 5 to 7 thousand USD. As programs expand cost will rise exponentially but will hopefully be kept as minimal as possible via the methods mentioned previously.


Time line

Short Term:

Establish RISE non-profit organization and website. Establish board of directors and review committees. Solicit ideas, funding and volunteers to administer and deliver programs.

Establish priorities; emphasis on establishing programs which will increase knowledge of topics impacting climate change is a top priority with others to be established.

Review, approve and develop submitted ideas; this process is ongoing in all three phases.

Rapidly develop programs to promote and explain the science of nuclear power and the use of GMO crops to gain greater yields with less impact on the environment.

Develop delivery methods for programs, social networks, television, radio and other outlets including establishment of  "boots on the ground" programs where no other effective means is available.

Develop local chapters that can more readily adapt programs that meet local needs and are less likely to conflict with local customs.

Develop and establish media campaigns to promote the organization and it's goals.

Medium term:

As programs reach a wider audience more specific subjects that affect climate can be introduced.

Longterm:

Continuation of successful programs.

Vigilant monitoring of "bad science" and response to misinformation.


Related proposals


References

NSF report on low level of science literacy in the U.S. and Europe. This article discusses methods of delivery scientific education to the public and addresses specific issues that should shape the form of delivery. This article will be a prime source of guidelines in the development of rise programs.http://www.nsf.gov/statistics/seind04/c7/c7s2.htm

MSU article on the lack of scientific knowledge among college students and how it affects understanding of climate issues.http://msutoday.msu.edu/news/2011/college-students-lack-scientific-literacy-study-finds/

Committee on publication ethics discussion on dealing with errors in media.http://publicationethics.org/files/u7140/Poster%202%20Media.pdf