Chastising a scientist for not being a great orator is a bit like moaning at a footballer for not giving enlightening post-math interviews - it's not really their job.
Inherently, scientists don't do rhetoric. They do facts, cold hard facts that can be tested, re-tested and tested again, and what's more we would not have it any other way. It is only through the rigourous application of scentific processes, of hypotheses proposed, tested and refined, that we end up with reliable, accurate evidence from which to make decisions.
Bold predictions, made without a correct assessment of variability and uncertainty are anathema to this process, handing easy wins to those who for whatever reason wish to discredit your research.
And yet, when the research you are undertaking points to a planetary emergency is there not an obligation to frame it in the manner that garners the most attention?
This, in a nutshell, was the argument made yesterday by John Ashton, climate change special envoy to the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office, who warned that if we are to ensure carbon emissions peak within the next six years then there "has to be much better communication between the world of science and politics".
Describing the inability to communicate in a language policymakers understand as an "existential threat" that undermines science's very position within wider society, Ashton said climate scientists had consistently failed to get there message across to politicians, had been occassionally guilty of downplaying threats that they thought would prove politically unpalatable, and had struggled to challenge the perception amongst some policymakers that they are just another lobby.
He advised that climate scientists should increase their focus on time scales that resonate with political leaders, focusing assessments on how people will be impacted over current average lifetimes, and also address the way in which the numerous caveats attached to scientific reports can be used to delay action by including the kinds of "reasonable worst case scenarios" that politicians feel more comfortable acting upon.
After a day with the 1,600 climate scientists at the Climate Congress in Copenhagen you have accept that Ashton has a point.
At one point, one of the panel of scientists behind the latest research showing sea levels could rise by over a metre by 2100 was invited to take up Ashton's challenge and provide a "reasonable worst case scenario". He responded, not unreasonably, that scientists did not do reasonable worst case scenarios, before adding that sea level rises of over one metre were entirely feasible given current rates of ice melt and expected increases in temperature.
This exchange followed a presentation of the latest data that was delivered with such urgency that if you drifted off for a moment, and you'd be forgiven for doing so, you'd be hard pushed to tell from the panel's voices whether you were listening to a discussion of impending global disaster or the launch of a new accountancy standard.
It was only in response to questions that the panel remembered to confirm that the real world implications of their research meant that vast swathes of south east Asia and Africa as well as countless island states were at far greater risk of catastrophic coastal flooding than previously thought. And it was only in the accompanying press release that it was revealed that a sea level rise of one metre would put 600m people or 10 per cent of the global population at risk.
It is slightly unfair to chastise scientists for not having the oratorical skills of Barack Obama, just as it is unfair to ask a profession often dedicated to focusing on minute and complex detail to place their data in a global political, social and economic context - that is ultimately the job of politicians, the media, and wider society.
But while political and business leaders must take the bulk of the blame for ignoring their warnings for so long, climate scientists also need to ask themselves some hard questions over precisely why their warnings have been allowed to go ignored.
It seems Ashton's diagnosis is right, and unless something is done quickly to close the communication gap between scientists and politicians this farcical level of misunderstanding could soon end as tragedy.
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