As many as 400,000 people voiced their concern about climate change during the People’s Climate March in New York City on September 21. Held just before the United Nations Climate Summit, the march was one of many events held around the world. It was the largest climate march in history and gave the impression that we are much more on the same page than we were a decade or two ago in terms of understanding the threat posed by climate change.
However, there are still a large number of people who do not understand the science of climate change. And, no, these are not all head-in-sand-ignore-the-situation folks who don’t want to understand. Many would like to know more. Two thirds of Americans say they would like more information about climate change according to a survey by the Yale Project on Climate Change Communication.
There is enough misinformation out in the world that even thoughtful, intelligent people can become mighty confused. When people find out where I work and what I do, I get all sorts of questions from, “What are greenhouse gases?” to, “Couldn’t the sun be causing all the warming?” I answer questions like these in elevators, in airplanes, at cocktail parties, at wedding receptions, and once even in a sauna (where the heat may have added a sense of urgency to the climate information.)
Now there is a better way for scientists who know about climate change and its impacts to connect with communities who want to understand the science.
Climate Voices – Science Speakers Network is pairing scientists with communities who want to learn more. The project is a collaboration of the United Nations Foundation and University Corporation for Atmospheric Research.
Do you want to find a climate scientist who will speak with your community? Then head online to Climate Voices and click the “Find a Speaker” button. There are more than 280 scientists so far in all 50 U.S. states that are willing to talk about climate change with your town, school, religious group, club or other group.
Are you a scientist who can help inform your fellow citizens about the science of climate change? Join the network as a volunteer climate expert and share the science of climate with communities near you. The program provides coaching to help you communicate clearly to non-technical audiences.
Sure, by telling you about Climate Voices I am hoping to get fewer science questions in the sauna. But also, I am hoping that it encourages more conversations about the science of climate change so that everyone can understand.
I’m also telling you about Climate Voices because I recently learned about a scientist who was asked to keep quiet. He was planning to volunteer as a Climate Voices expert but was told by his boss that talking about climate science was too controversial.
There’s a misconception that climate science is controversial. The science is a diagnosis. What we do with that diagnosis – how we take action, or if we take action at all – that’s the controversial part that we citizens need to sort out. But we can’t decide what to do until we all understand what we are facing.