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Of Scapegoats and Minefields

Collide-a-ScapeBy Keith KloorMarch 4, 2011 4:42 AM


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Randy Olson, the scientist-turned-filmaker, dares to depart from conventional wisdom among climate advocates, many who would hang the news media in collective effigy over climategate:

The media were irrelevant and largely blameless in Climategate. The whole incident was a case study in the absence of effective leadership in both the science and environmental communities. For science, there are no clear leaders, just countless acronymed organizations who stood, stared, and weeks later put out milquetoast statements about how this sort of stuff shouldn't happen.

In an essay he posted today, Olson also throws down the gauntlet to climate change communicators (but presumably not journalists):

EVERYONE wants to know, "How can we best communicate elements of uncertainty?" My answer is, "Very carefully, if at all."

What exactly does this mean? I don't know. The whole essay reads like a Zen koan to me. But he provides plenty of his own caveats:

I'm not saying you can't do it, or that it won't work. I'm saying that you simply need to know that EVERY time you enter into communicating uncertainty, you are entering dangerous ground. Basically a minefield. And the truth is, you can go dancing through a minefield and never hit a single mine.

So Randy, for the benefit of the activists and bloggers who want to communicate a clear and consise climate change message with just enough wiggle room to remain true to the various uncertainties of climate change, how about some examples of how it's done?

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