Effectively Responding to Public Scrutiny When Communicating Climate Science.

Tuesday, 16 December 2014: 2:04 PM
Aaron Huertas, Union of Concerned Scientists Washington DC, Communications, Washington, DC, United States and Michael Halpern, Union of Concerned Scientists Washington DC, Center for Science and Democracy, Washington, DC, United States
Climate researchers face regular scrutiny of their work from groups outside academia. In recent years, interest groups that oppose climate policy have targeted scientists with hate-mail campaigns, invasive document requests, hostile questioning and legal threats. In their day-to-day work, scientists struggle to respond to heated discussions about their research, whether from online commentators, opinion columnists, or special interest groups. Based on decades of experience and interviews with scientists, the Union of Concerned Scientists has developed a guide for communicating science amid heightened scrutiny. Building on the information contained in the UCS guide, this presentation will discuss best practices for climate researchers, including suggestions for when scrutiny can be ignored or when it deserves a response and methods for responding that can uphold scientific integrity while also protecting an individual researcher’s reputation and ability to publicly communicate. Examples include scientists who have responded to bloggers criticizing their research, advocacy groups demanding their personal emails and policymakers targeting them with personal attacks. In understanding how to respond to scrutiny, scientists can bolster their own ability to communicate and curtail the chilling effect that scrutiny can have on other scientists conducting public enegagement.