Category: Communicating science

Not just the weather: How TV meteorologists influence the public’s views on climate

Read the full story at Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists.

Television weathercasters are more than local news celebrities. Broadcast meteorologists are generally trusted sources of information. When you allow us to enter your living room in the early evening, and your bedroom late at night, to help plan your child’s wardrobe for the coming day or decide whether the weekend barbecue or camping trip is a go, you put your trust in us. For better or for worse, given our knowledge, platform, reputation, and value-added actionable information and forecasts, we are viewed as highly credible public intellectuals.

Don’t just watch: Team behind ‘Don’t Look Up’ urges climate action

Read the full story in the New York Times. See also:

The satirical film about a comet hurtling toward Earth is a metaphor for climate change. It has broken a Netflix record and its director hopes it will mobilize public action.

Sustainability needs a new narrative

Read the full story in GreenBiz.

The world’s sustainability community has advanced a number of important proposals in recent decades to forestall accelerating climate change, slow deforestation, provide clean water and sanitation, generate clean energy and practice responsible consumption and production. Limited progress has occurred as measured by concrete outcomes rather than aspirational statements and pledges at international conferences and by corporations.

While opposition from the fossil-fuel industry and its political supporters are primarily responsible for this result, the inability of global sustainability proponents to persuade enough people to support their agenda merits a re-examination of their arguments and strategies. A look back at the recent COP26 gathering and its inability to galvanize world leaders into making substantive, verifiable commitments to protect the planet leads to a conclusion that the current sustainability narrative and its coalition of supporters have already reached their peak influence.

Protecting the Integrity of Government Science

Download the document and read Nature’s take on it.

This report is the first product of the SI-FTAC. As called for in the 2021 Presidential Memorandum, it assesses scientific integrity policies of Federal departments and agencies and instances in which they have not been followed or enforced, and it identifies effective practices for strengthening scientific integrity in specific areas, including training and transparency in scientific integrity, handling scientific disagreements, supporting professional development of Federal scientists, addressing emerging challenges to scientific integrity, and effective communication of the results of Federal scientific activities. The report is intended to assist Federal departments and agencies in creating or updating scientific integrity policies and implementing effective practices. It was developed by the SI-FTAC with contributions from other Federal Government staff, extensive public engagement, and support from the IDA Science and Technology Policy Institute.

Misled on lead: The campaign to keep toxic lead in hunting ammo and fishing tackle

EHN investigated hundreds of claims from webpages, documents, and testimony, and found that groups including the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF), the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), and the National Rifle Association (NRA) spread misinformation and engage in science denialism most of the time they communicate about lead ammunition or fishing tackle.

Lead poisoning “is killing large numbers of animals in a manner that is often prolonged, painful, and cruel. Whether it causes heart, kidney, reproductive, or nervous system problems, there is strong scientific evidence to show that any quantity of lead can be harmful,” said Mark Pokras, a wildlife veterinarian and Associate Professor Emeritus at Tufts Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine.

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New website evaluates the effectiveness of science communication activities

Read the full story from Leiden University.

Scientists regularly appear in the media. They participate in science cafés, write a popular-science book or visit school classes. In that way, they want to convey their knowledge and enthusiasm to society. But do they succeed? To answer that question, a new website is launched, with a toolbox full of instruments to evaluate the effect of science communication activities.

On Twitter, fossil fuel companies’ climate misinformation is subtle

Read the full story from NiemanLab.

This subtle form of misinformation, which scholars have called “fossil fuel solutionism,” involves cherry-picking data and talking points.

Aspen Institute issues Final Report of the Commission on Information Disorder

Download the document.

Information disorder makes any health crisis more deadly. It slows down our response time on climate change. It undermines democracy. It creates a culture in which racist, ethnic, and gender attacks are seen as solutions, not problems. Today, mis- and disinformation have become a force multiplier for exacerbating our worst problems as a society. Hundreds of millions of people pay the price, every single day, for a world disordered by lies.

In the face of this challenge, we would expect information disorder to be a central concern for anyone in society who bears the title of “leader.” Proactive leadership, rising from within every sector and institution in our society, is our only way out of this crisis. And yet it is sorely missing. The committed and powerful leadership we need is not yet the leadership we have. Accordingly, the biggest question we faced as co-chairs of the Aspen Institute’s Commission on Information Disorder was simply this: How can we help increase the breadth, depth, honesty, and efficacy of leadership for tackling information disorder?

WatchDog Opinion: Science integrity is about more than getting EPA interviews

Read the full story from the SEJ WatchDog.

SEJ and other groups have been complaining for years that journalists should be allowed to interview government scientists without interference and censorship by agency press offices. It’s an old story, and it has been chronicled in the WatchDog for many years.

The problem today is different: an assault on, corruption of, and betrayal of the science itself. We are seeing more clearly how government science is co-opted by self-interested industry lobbying. How some politicians and agency officials encourage and enable this corruption. And how some news media (and a wider mediasphere) actually play a major role in corrupting and distorting the science. There is today an “anti-science” movement, and it is getting stronger even as media puzzle over it.

Birds aren’t real, or are they? Inside a Gen Z conspiracy theory.

Read the full story in the New York Times.

Peter McIndoe, the 23-year-old creator of the viral Birds Aren’t Real movement, is ready to reveal what the effort is really about.

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