The climate change industry appears to remain convinced that there is nothing wrong with climate science, but there is a problem with “climate science communication”. Or at least this is the line they are trying to maintain.
There was the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee report on climate communication a couple of months back, to which the government responded yesterday.
Today sees the launch of the latest blockbuster in the field, Time for Change? Climate Science Reconsidered. It’s a glossy 156-page tome written by a team of scientists and social scientists mostly from UCL, headed by Chris Rapley, author of “Time to Raft Up“. I wrote to Rapley following that article, explaining his prejudices, false assumptions and lack of self-awareness, but he does not seem to have improved his understanding very much since then.
The main conclusions of the new report are
- Climate scientists are not well prepared to explain their work to the public
- A meta-narrative is required (not sure what that means)
- Policy is complicated, many factors play a role, not just science
- Values – what sort of world we want – are important
- New forum for active discussion needed
- A professional body for climate science should be set up
Despite the talk of ‘change’ and ‘new’, there doesn’t seem to be much new here.
Chapter 1 tries to deal with the complex science/policy interface, citing Hulme, Pielke, but this is an impossible question to deal with.
Chapter 2 is on how people think, cognition, and values, referring to Dan Kahan and others. There is an interesting discussion of alarmism, an aspect of the report picked up by The Times, with a frank statement that this has contributed to loss of trust.
The remaining chapters deal with communication and blogs, telling stories, public opinion, and their proposal to set up yet another organisation and forum for public discussion. It ends with a recognition of the need for self-reflection and humility, but as with the authors of the paper discussed in the previous post, it does not appreciate their own groupthink problem and the need to involve and listen to their critics.
Ultimately, the failure of the document is that it does not seem to realise that this focus on presentation and communication will be seen as spin and propaganda.
Bishop Hill blog – comments on the bias, the navel-gazing and the dullness of the conclusions.
Carbon Brief – says “Academics urge scientists to do more to engage the public on climate change”.
Climate scientists do not seem very impressed by the report. They don’t like the jargon or the dictatorial tone.
The misfiring of the report and the apparent failure to anticipate this illustrates again the lack of self-awareness of the authors.