More heat than light? Climate catastrophe and the Hiroshima bomb

There has been some discussion on Twitter today (14 August) about the wisdom or otherwise of measuring the heat being retained by the Earth in terms of Hiroshima bombs. The analogy is presented by John Cook and Dana Nuccitelli on their Skeptical Science blog, drawing on an academic paper by Church et al to describe the heat …

Debating empty chairs: creationism, climate and public engagement

This week, Making Science Public has been very proud to welcome US film director Jeff Tamblyn during his UK visit. On Wednesday we screened his amazing film, Kansas vs Darwin, a documentary charting the attempts by members of the Kansas School Board to introduce creationism and intelligent design into high school science teaching. The film …

Public understanding of climate change: The deficit fallacy

At the end of February the House of Commons Science and Technology Select Committee launched an inquiry into public understanding of climate change and its implications for policy. The STSC asks for written submissions on various questions, such as: What is the current state of public understanding of what is meant by climate change? How …

Are they really climate deniers? Closing down debate in science and politics.

Just had an interesting back and forth with Vanessa Heggie  about ‘what to call climate deniers/sceptics’? At the bottom of her excellent post on ‘how to debate with sceptics’, Vanessa wonders whether ‘denier‘ or ‘sceptic‘ is the right word to use around climate change. This was a handy reminder that, although I read stuff on …

Weather 1, Climategate 0

A short post sparked by this new paper linking public ‘belief’ in climate change with the weather conditions at the time they were polled (£). From the abstract: Belief that humans are changing the climate is predicted by temperature anomalies on the interview and previous day, controlling for season, survey and individual characteristics. Or, as David …

Abseiling down the climate cliff metaphor

Since its very beginning in the 1980s, public discourse about climate change has been structured by metaphors. We had the greenhouse effect, the carbon footprint, the hockey stick, the tipping point, and we also had climategate; and to these metaphors we can now add the ‘climate cliff’ (which one can almost see as an upside …

Short circuiting the language of Sandy – how to balance literalism and lucidity?

My previous post here at MSP reflected on comments in the BBC’s Climategate Revisited programme, suggesting that uncertainties in climate science have come to the fore in the years following the  publication of scientists’ emails. By being more open about such uncertainties, there may be a hope that some of the public trust lost after …

Echoes of Climategate: focusing on uncertainty?

The ever-lively climate blogosphere was given an extra jolt recently by a new BBC Radio 4 documentary – Climategate Revisited. The programme assessed the fallout from the infamous publication of emails from the University of East Anglia (UEA) server, rather than attempting to adjudicate on scientific claims or the contents of the emails. The programme …

Communicating climate change on the right (report)

This is a guest blog by Warren Pearce who will be starting work on the Making Science Public project in October this year. Warren reports on an event organised by the Policy Exchange: A greener shade of blue? Communicating climate change on the right. The blog was originally published here. ‘A grit in the oyster’ …

Languages of uncertainty

Communicating scientific uncertainty There has recently been a lot of discussion about communicating uncertainty in science in general and climate change/climate science in particular. Many scientists, including Sir Robert May and Sir John Beddington have talked about how uncertainty is intrinsic to science and have advocated being more open about uncertainty, with the latter stressing …