The hubris apparent in the notion that the climate is something we can control has found its match in the thought that climate scientists can now understand how to sell a message to the public. Somehow moshpit found himself photoshopped in the middle of this conversation……
ELEANOR HALL: Some of Australia’s top scientists are gathering in Sydney today trying to work out how to “shift public attitudes” on climate change.
MOSHPIT: We do science during the week and PR on our weekends.
The aim, according to organizers, is to publicize the facts of climate science in the face of a so-far highly successful campaign by climate skeptics.
The closed door meeting is being attended by Australia’s Chief Scientist as well as representatives from the CSIRO and the Bureau of Meteorology, as David Mark reports.
MOSHPIT: Ya no press allowed or anybody else who understands communicating with the public
DAVID MARK: There’s nothing new about the greenhouse effect.
MOSHPIT: Perhaps we should sell a greenhouse effect with retsin! that worked for certs. And we need to sell the message with penguins. Polar Bears are so passe’
KARL BRAGANZA: The first sort of credited person with formulating that the earth has a greenhouse effect is probably a Swedish scientist known as Arrhenius. I think that’s how you pronounce his name and that’s in the late 1800’s.
DAVID MARK: That’s Doctor Karl Braganza, the manager of climate monitoring at the Bureau of Meteorology’s National Climate Centre.
MOSHPIT: Dude you butchered his name, the Swedes won’t go for treaties now.
KARL BRAGANZA: But if you actually look back. It was earlier than that, probably in the early 1800’s that European scientists were first proposing the idea that, you know, the earth’s atmosphere does trap heat and warms up the surface.
MOSHPIT: Ya, this one time in band camp…
DAVID MARK: By the middle of the 20th century, scientists were linking the greenhouse effect with measured increases in carbon dioxide.
KARL BRAGANZA: People started actually recording CO2 in the atmosphere at places like Mauna Loa in Hawaii and that was in the late 50s and it was probably by the late 60s that we really realised that yeah, CO2 was really ramping up in the atmosphere.
MOSHPIT: Psst don’t talk about short trends. After 10 years we couldn’t tell anything
DAVID MARK: And as Doctor Braganza explains in the following decades more empirical evidence of rising temperatures firmed up the theory.
KARL BRAGANZA: The science itself is quite basic and quite straight forward and that’s why within scientific circles you’ll often hear people say that there is no debate within the science about the enhanced greenhouse effect and the reality of it.
MOSHPIT: Talk about the ice. Cue the Penguins.
DAVID MARK: And yet there is a debate and many would argue it’s a debate the scientists are losing to so-called climate sceptics.
CATHY FOLEY: What’s gone wrong is that I think scientists have probably had a lot of different people speaking.
MOSHPIT: Worse than that, they had British accents and funny names like Gavin. We need one credible spokesperson. Like Al Gore, only knowledgable. Or like Phil Jones, only credible. How about a talking Penguin with James Earle Jones’ voice!
DAVID MARK: Doctor Cathy Foley is the President of FASTS – the Federation of Australian Scientific and Technological Societies.
CATHY FOLEY: There’s been a bit of mix as to how do you believe one person as opposed to another and in the areas where scientists are talking with people who are well funded sceptics who aren’t necessarily, well aren’t definitely leaders in their field.
MOSHPIT: Maybe we can get those guys who did the polar bear photoshop job to photoshop McIntyre talking money from Shell Oil? Use one of the pictures of the CRU guys with Shell and just graft on McIntyre’s head. If you have problems just ask Mike, he knows the grafting trick
The general public just don’t know, who do I believe in the end if I read a book, which has some supposed specialist as opposed to a peer-reviewed researcher who’s been working in the field for a long time.
That subtlety is not picked up by them and they find it hard to say what’s right and what isn’t.
MOSHPIT: Let’s declare the debate is over so they don’t even get the chance to understand for themselves. The public is so dumb they will never see through that!
DAVID MARK: So today Australian science is hitting back.
MOSHPIT: Psst, you hit like a sheila, mate.
FASTS is holding a closed-door one-day climate change summit to quote “shift public attitudes in support of climate change action.”
MOSHPIT: Penguins. Teenage mutant ninja penguins.
CATHY FOLEY: I think that scientists really do need to try and get their collective might together to make sure that we have a clear and articulated voice that allows us to make sure that the general public actually understands what it is that we’re trying to achieve so that good decisions are made.
MOSHPIT: Penguins. With a clear voice like James Earl Jones.
DAVID MARK: But as we’ve heard, the science has been around for 100 years, so why is it the scientists haven’t been able to convince the lay people in all that time?
Doctor Cathy Foley.
CATHY FOLEY: I think the scientific community has been putting it out in a way, which they are scientists. They put out the information, which is the facts as they understand it. Scientists are focusing on that and trying to make sure that they put things across in a way which isn’t alarmist and I think that there always trying to tread that very delicate pathway.
MOSHPIT: and so like they put it out there in a way that is like factual as they like know it and they never used penguins to sell the message and like penguins are these funny creatures, not like scary polar bears, and so like that. Did I make sense? is this the conference on communicating with the public? I think I’m at the wrong convention. Can I get my teeth whitened here for free?
DAVID MARK: Could it be then that scientists are too focused on the facts; constrained by the scientific method and perhaps not passionate enough to have their message heard through the static of modern media?
MOSHPIT: Angry Penguins. That’s the ticket!
Doctor Karl Braganza.
KARL BRAGANZA: It’s probably been true that what we’ve been best at is giving a science lecture and no matter who we speak to whether it’s farmer groups or community groups or government, our mode of communication is to sort of give more information. If someone doesn’t understand something, well throw even more information at them and that might not be the best way to communicate issues to the general public at large.
MOSHPIT: Ya we need to stop this giving information thing right now. Lets bring in Mann and Jones, they did pretty well with that hiding information thing. People don’t want facts. They want… Penguins. Passionate Penguins.