Although that follows below was NOT written by me, I thought this was very pertinent to you fellow blog readers and to my mission of making science more user-friendly. Thanks to Climate Progress for this great blog post!
What do you think of the Union of Concerned Scientists ad campaign, “Scientists are Curious for Life”?
July 14, 2010
The Union of Concerned Scientists has launched a new ad campaign. It is part of their long-standing effort to shine a light on the scientific truth about human-caused global warming.
The thinking behind the ads, according to UCS President Kevin Knobloch, is that “People like science and scientists, but they often don’t have a good idea of who they are as people.”
Of Dr. Inouye, we find out:
Ever since I was a kid, I’ve been asking questions about the birds and the bees. How do they fly? What do they eat?
Now that I’m a trained scientist, my questions may be more sophisticated, but the passion is the same. I wonder what climate change is doing to the life cycle of wildflowers, and how bumblebees and hummingbirds are reacting to those changes. The bug’s-eye view shows me that our world is warming like never before. My name is David Inouye, and I’m a concerned scientist.
To learn more about my work, visit www.ucsusa.org/evidence.
I asked filmmaker/scientist Randy Olson, author of Don’t Be Such a Scientist: Talking Substance in an Age of Style, for his thoughts. He wrote me:
I’m very, very impressed with the Union of Concerned Scientists’ “Meet the Scientists” campaign. It’s the sort of positive messaging for science and scientists that is needed — an effort that simply fuels the fires of the polls that show the public in general has an overall positive impression of science, despite the recent attacks.
This is a crucial element in overcoming the unjustified negativity of the anti-climate science crowd. The most important element for science to work properly is to retain the respect and trust of the general public. A key part of that is effective public relations. These vignettes of scientists are exactly that — they are humanizing, friendly, warm and most importantly are honest — based on true, simple tidbits from their past that people can connect with. They are not “spin” or any sort of deception.
All the campaign needs now is large scale funding (if only we knew someone who recently had raised $300 million for the mass communication of climate change …).
That last sentence was a jibe at the Alliance for Climate Protection, a group that is doing very good work, but whose ads could probably be better.
The ads tell stories of three scientists. Here’s the one about Julia Cole:
I’ve always been an explorer. Just ask my mother. Today, it’s leading me deep into the caves of the American Southwest. My work relates what ’s going on below to what’s going on above: I’ve found that stalagmites hold clues about the climate record of the past. Surprising connections like this one are helping me track how the planet is warming like never before. My name is Julia Cole, and I’m a concerned scientist.
And lastly, Cameron Wake:
In high school I was a romantic—and I still am. Faraway places have always filled me with wonder.
That’s why I chose a career that takes me to our planet’s most inhospitable climates. I get to mountaineer my way to new discoveries. My research on Arctic glaciers has revealed how our world is warming like never before. My name is Cameron Wake, and I’m a concerned scientist.
The ads are fine by me. They aren’t meant to solve the whole problem, though I tend to agree with the findings of Stanford communications expert Jon Krosnick that a large majority of Americans continue to believe global warming is real and trust scientists.
My only quibble with the ads is that the public — or rather the persuadable public — knows that the world is warming. The fact that it is “warming like never before” is a good message. But I would have urged UCS to have one of the three scientists be someone whose work has been on attribution, on the showing how we know that humans are causing this unprecedented warming. That’s where the polling starts to be weaker.
But kudos to UCS for these ads. More groups need to do this.