Communication Will Be Key for Climate Scientists Under the Trump Administration

While communications majors frequently end up working for PR and advertising firms to promote products and businesses, the world of science also offers opportunities.

Ever wonder how top scientists always seem to describe their work so lucidly in such simple terms? The answer is that writers often write the quotes for them after they have thoroughly studied the research they communicate. Science communications specialists can wield a great deal of power.

Noted climate scientist Ben Santer of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory concluded an interview with the Los Angeles Times by analyzing what made Trump’s message so successful: “A simple message, repeated again and again and again.”

Santer added that Trump’s success provides an important lesson for climate scientists. He thinks that the scientific community must find an equally effective way of communicating the message that climate change is real.

Scientists consider the topic to have been decided in the 1990s, yet doubt and denial remain in spades.

Ironically, a recent study found that the disbelief in climate change correlates with a poor understanding of the process of science overall.

Santer, a MacArthur Fellow and member of the National Academy of Sciences, has the stellar scientific credentials to weigh in on the topic. While soft spoken in person, he is known for the rigor of his research and comments on climate change.

Fame has not been kind to Santer. After he helped to write the landmark international report that linked global warming with human activity, he faced a barrage of criticism and even a dead rat on his doorstep.

Federal climate scientists fear a return of the McCarthy era as the new administration made a request that the Department of Energy provide the names of employees who had conducted climate research or gone to international conferences in the field.

The LA Times points out that national labs could prove to be a flashpoint in the tug-of-war between the President-Elect and California. Representative Eric Swalwell said there was concern that climate scientists and Livermore “could be blacklisted.”

Swalwell wrote a joint letter with 26 other congressmen and women to protect scientists in national labs.

Santer plans on remaining outspoken and mobilizing fellow scientists to communicate what is known about climate change in hopes of resisting the current client of denial.