Who signed on?
John Abraham, University of St. Thomas
Barry Bickmore, Brigham Young University
Gretchen Daily,* Stanford University
G. Brent Dalrymple,* Oregon State University
Andrew Dessler, Texas A&M University
Peter Gleick,* Pacific Institute
John Kutzbach,* University of Wisconsin-Madison
Syukuro Manabe,* Princeton University
Michael Mann, Penn State University
Pamela Matson,* Stanford University
Harold Mooney,* Stanford University
Michael Oppenheimer, Princeton University
Ben Santer, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory
Richard Somerville, Scripps Institution of Oceanography
Kevin Trenberth, National Center for Atmospheric Research
Warren Washington, National Center for Atmospheric Research
Gary Yohe, Wesleyan University
George Woodwell,* The Woods Hole Research Center
*Member of the National Academy of Sciences
A distinguished group of 18 scientists – including several members of the National Academy of Sciences – has written a letter to members of Congress asking them to put aside politics and take a fresh look at climate science. In a twist on the usual scientists-can’t-communicate story line, Chris Mooney says the letter is an example of doing everything right and holds lessons for others:
There are many things that are impressive about the letter, including how eloquent and well-written it is. But I was most struck by its use of framing and other communication techniques to open minds that may have been dismissive. In particular, right out of the gate, the scientists emphasize the military and human health implications of climate change:
Our military recognizes that the consequences of climate change have direct security implications for the country that will only become more acute with time, and it has begun the sort of planning required across the board.
The health of Americans is also at risk. The U.S. Climate Impacts Report, commissioned by the George W. Bush administration, states: “Climate change poses unique challenges to human health. Unlike health threats caused by a particular toxin or disease pathogen, there are many ways that climate change can lead to potentially harmful health effects. There are direct health impacts from heat waves and severe storms, ailments caused or exacerbated by air pollution and airborne allergens, and many climate-sensitive infectious diseases.”
This puts us somewhere we don’t expect—not at all what Congress is used to hearing about global warming. And the surprises continue with an analogy relating our climate problem to the national debt:
Our carbon debt increases each year, just as our national debt increases each year that spending exceeds revenue. And our carbon debt is even longer-lasting; carbon dioxide molecules can last hundreds of years in the atmosphere.
And on it goes. I think it is fair to say that if Republicans in Congress as a group are ever going to listen to a climate change message, they are going to listen to one like this.