Giving science a voice amid the confusion of climate change media coverage by Climate Feedback
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Proposal: Giving science a voice amid the confusion of climate change media coverage
Contest: Shifting Attitudes & Behavior
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How will you curate the group of scientists who are allowed to provide annotations?
This* can get big and messy quickly. (*Any scientist who meets minimum academic qualifications criteria will be allowed to annotate.")
Excellent use of existing platform, Hypothesis. Concerns: What happens if Hypothesis goes under. Is Hypothesis a startup? Well-Established? Do you need a plan B for that aspect?
You could partner with a highly regarded entity such as Yale Climate Communication, UN, Union of Concerned Scientists, Climate Central, and/or Metcalfe Institute to create your rockstar panel of experts. Great work so far on assembling a high-level community of scientists.
Will participating scientists need to be incentivized (paid)?
On the Coordinators, who are they? How to be sure they aren’t biased. Perhaps this is a prestigious enough role, for volunteers to be unpaid. (See the MIT Climate CoLab judges for a precedent!)
Concern: How will you select media coverage to include? Doubtful that you can include every single news report, video clip, and podcast that appears.
Will the user be able to view a scientist only version of Climate Feedback? Worried that the platform becomes way too noisy if you welcome non-scientists to comment. Just have a look at the NYTimes online comments for a Justin Gillis piece. It can get noisy quickly.
I certainly support the idea of bringing more scientific accuracy to public information about climate change. I also like the idea of having some kind of educated, informed, and trusted check on what journalists communicate. However, this proposal raises several concerns. For one, it is clear that scientists are trained to communicate primarily with other scientists (or students, or scientists-in-training) and are rarely trained to communicate with the public. The culture and language of scientists is literally foreign and frequently misunderstood by the non-scientists. For example, we (scientists) are rarely willing to state something is entirely certain, nor are we willing to state an outcome is 'better' or 'worse.' I am concerned that scientists who correctly point out uncertainties, use technical jargon, or use terms that have different meaning outside of their field (e.g., 'positive feedback') will not be effective communicators for a public audience. I would be interested to hear what the proposers might do to address this potential issue. Other concerns include defining 'minimum academic qualifications' (this especially after the Global Warming Petition Project, in which >31,000 'scientists' rejected anthropogenic climate change), and enlisting active climate scientists in the project.
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