Seeing Climate, Seeing Change

"It's not all about melting ice sheets in any sense," Cullen said.


“Some people call it the biggest procrastination problem,” says climate expert Dr. Heidi Cullen, “The longer you wait, the trickier it is to deal with.”

She is, of course, talking about climate change, or what the rest of the public refers to as “global warming” – a misnomer since certain areas of the Earth are actually cooling down.

The presentation “Seeing Climate, Seeing Change” introduced four key concepts of communicating the issue:

  1. It’s real
  2. It’s a threat
  3. It’s our fault
  4. We can fix it.

A scientific journalist herself, Dr. Cullen emphasized the rise of new media, non-profit publications, and data journalism as avenues to connecting genuinely with the public.

“Scientists are not necessarily the best communicators. If global warming is a trend in the Earth’s average temperature,” she said, “then media coverage is a cycle.”

Dr. Cullen keeps the message relevant by showing clips from The Onion, The Simpsons, and her own journalistic work.

Dr. Cullen revealed that seen second only to firemen, people view scientists with ‘very great prestige.’

“We are essentially the same, both watching out for the future,” she said. “Scientists have a responsibility.”

Relating the concepts of ‘prospicience’, the act of looking ahead and ‘iterative risk management,’ the idea of ‘get started, keep thinking,’ Dr. Cullen gives examples of green-printing and preparing for natural disasters.

Dr. Cullen closes by encouraging American innovation and investment, quoting¬†“Science is always political, but should never be partisan.”



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