I don’t entirely agree with the conclusion, but John Nielsen-Gammon makes a brilliant and important case.
At last December’s AGU meeting, I was asked to give a talk in a session on barriers, misconceptions, and progress in climate literacy, from a state climatologist’s perspective. The basic idea behind climate literacy is that, because climate is such a major policy issue these days, people need a better understanding of climate in order to make better decisions.
The solution to this problem is not scientific literacy, but what I call scientific meta-literacy. Forget that dream about enabling the public to independently evaluate scientific claims on their merits – that’s just not going to happen. Instead, enable the public to distinguish between reliable and unreliable sources of scientific information.
John makes a fresh case against my long-held belief that science exposition is a crucial component of dealing with sustainability issues. Advocates of the “deficit model fallacy” position would do well to absorb his presentation rather than parroting the odd social science study.
I’d like to thank “Willard” for pointing this out, in the context of a resent debate he has had with Steve Mosher. Everybody knows I’m not an unalloyed Mosher fan, but in the present case I am more aligned with Steve than with John. I don’t think we can duck the responsibility to make the scientific case as clear and cogent as possible. This includes making the case seem as urgent as it actually is.
I’d suggest that John’s closing call for precision and reliability is crucial, but the implied call for the sort of dispassion that John himself displays may well be past its sell date. We are not in an ideal situation.