As I discussed in this post, there’s been a lengthy discussion on Twitter about climate scientists publicly discussing policy/solutions. In response to this, David Roberts tweeted the following:
I think a) the over-reliance on climate scientists to do all the work of climate communication, including policy, has been a disaster, and b) anyone who feels like complaining about that should step the fuck up & do better. Scientists did it b/c no one else was!
— David Roberts (@drvox) June 5, 2018
One of the responses1 to this was that there may well be many people with relevant expertise who are willing to step up, but that being willing to do so doesn’t immediately give them airtime.
I think there may be some merit to this, but I do wonder if there isn’t another issue. When climate scientists communicate publicly, there is a reasonably consistent framework. Most accept the consensus position that humans are causing global warming and, if they do discuss policy/solutions, that we should probably be doing something about this. Hence, there can appear to be this large group of people who have some kind of media platform.
I may well be wrong (I often am) but I don’t think that there is the same level of consensus when it comes to climate policy/economics. Hence, it may be that it just appears as though there are fewer experts given a platform to discuss this because it’s not as obvious that they belong to the same group (i.e.,a group consisting of those who have the expertise to publicly discuss climate policy/economics).
So, maybe one thing to consider is whether or not there some kind of consistent position that those who want to focus on climate policy/economic could present so that it would be more obvious that there is a large group of experts presenting a reasonably consistent picture. My impression is that this may not be possible; that there really is disagreement amongst policy experts and so there isn’t really a simple consensus position2.
I, however, may be wrong about this. Maybe there really are far fewer policy experts getting airtime than climate scientists. If so, maybe climate scientists should help to promote those who would like to engage publicly. Also, maybe there is some kind of consensus position that could be presented to help make clearer what experts regard as the optimal position when it comes to climate policy. If there is, I would be really keen to better understand what it is.
1 This was from Glen Peters, who does – in my view – communicate very effectively about climate policy.
2 There are maybe two relevant consensus positions. (1) Economists regard a carbon tax as the optimal way to address climate change. (2) Addressing climate change will require reducing emissions and, eventually, getting them to zero.