Growing up in the 1970’s and 1980’s on a farm in a small town, I spent most of my spare time outside playing riding around on my bike with my friends, and also helping out in the family business. I never really watched a lot of television but when I did I loved to watch The Curiosity Show with Rob and Dean. For those unfamiliar, here is a random clip from one of their shows.
It was this show that really got me interested in Science. Rob and Dean had a way of making science exciting and they did this through effective communication. They could explain what they were doing and make it exciting and relevant. What young kid watching the above example wouldn’t get excited about blowing the lid off something? All that nitrogen gas was also cool and creepy.
The other show I never missed was Why is it So? with Professor Julius Sumner Miller. Here was a guy who could have been typecast into any Hollywood movie or television drama as a stereotypical nutty professor. He was brilliant, not so much because he could communicate effectively (which he obviously could) but because he was so passionate about science and self-assured and this really came through. I was left in no doubt about how he was feeling at any given moment. Recently I have become re-acquainted with Miller and have spent many hours on YouTube watching grainy copies of Demonstrations in Physics. One of my favourites was his lecture on Bernoulli. It is classic Sumner Miller and it will leave you in no doubt about his passion for physics and ability to effectively communicate. I particularly enjoy his language. His “common enchantment” is on show.
Fast forward 30 something years to today and one of my biggest laments in science is the unwillingness of scientists to really express their personal feelings about the science they are doing. Scientists are for some reason almost expected to maintain the dispassion they apply to the scientific method throughout all aspects of their life or at least to keep their personal feelings out of the public eye, especially if they are negative. Perhaps I’m generalising a bit here but it is the impression I have gotten over the years, especially where climate science is concerned. I’m not a climate scientist and I am really pissed off about the lack of action. I am really pissed off by the bullshit “arguments” put up by non-experts. I am pissed off with the media giving false balance to these morons. When I see charlatans from fossil fuel funded think-tanks on my television I want to throw something. I will throw my hands up in the air and wonder why the climate scientists are not being heard? Why aren’t they putting a human face on their findings? I know they are all passionate about their science and they have to be tearing their hair out at the prospect of what we are doing to our world.
Well, with our new dysfunctional, fossil fuel funded, climate change denying, anti-science, fossil-filled conservative government destroying renewable energy initiatives, dismantling key climate institutions, removing the only demonstrable method of reducing CO2 emissions, dishing out corporate welfare to billionaire miners and removing environmental impediments to their business interests, it seems some Australian climate experts are finally putting their thoughts in the public domain. Joe Duggan, a master’s student in science communication at the Australian National University’s Centre for the Public Awareness of Science has asked the experts to write down their thoughts and has put them on his blog. It makes for some sobering reading.