Google Recruits Scientists to Use New Media to Tackle Climate Skeptics


Photo: dannysullivan, CC 2.0

In an effort to help improve communication regarding global warming issues and to counter the rampant 'noise' made by fossil fuel industry-funded climate skepticism, Google's philanthropy arm has launched a new program focused on bringing together scientists, communications experts, and the world of social media. Google has tapped 21 top climate researchers to be fellows on the project, and they plan on mapping out a way to get accurate, scientifically sound information on climate to the masses. SolveClimate News reports:

Climate change skeptics who have created a political megaphone in Washington may finally meet their match in the world's largest search engine ...
"We are seeing very clearly with climate change that our policy choices are currently not grounded in knowledge and understanding," said Paul Higgins, a Google fellow and an associate policy director for the American Meteorological Society.
Details remain sparse about the workings of the effort, but it nonetheless appears to be a worthy attempt to calibrate scientists' messaging. The problem is, we've seen a number of such attempts ramp up with similar aims before, to little avail. The top voices in climate have long called for 'better messaging' from scientists -- just read Joe Romm's Climate Progress on any given day -- but such entreaties have thus far lead to little tangible benefit in the national discourse: Yet another poll is out showing that American's concern for climate is sinking lower and lower.

But the fellows in Google's program understand this, and they're also keenly aware of how the denial machine works:

"The uncertainty argument, that we really don't know what is going on and that climate scientists are corrupt, has been reasonably effective in the last few years," said Andrew Dessler, also a Google fellow and a climate scientist at Texas A&M; University. "We don't know everything about the climate from a scientific standpoint and there are uncertainties, but they are uncertainties over whether climate change is going to either be bad or really, really bad ... People who are opposed to regulation ... [are] not trying to prove that climate change [science] is wrong. They're trying to prove that there is an argument going on," he said. "They're just trying to create noise."
I'm not sure what Google can do to help get better climate info out there -- maybe it'll get it's search engines to stop crawling Fox News and Watts Up With That. Kidding, of course. That said, I am looking forward to seeing what they come up with, and it is, of course, a worthy endeavor.

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Tags: Global Climate Change

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