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Let's talk climate science to break climate silence

One of the most important things we can do to actually tackle human-caused climate change is to talk about it whenever an opportunity presents itself(*) - something many of us don't do for many different reasons. As you may already have noticed - i.e. via my recent comment to Svea Becker's Work life balance thread or Jerry Janda's MoM interview with me - I 'm all for ending "climate silence". Which is why it didn't take much encouragement in the form of likes or replies to make me start this thread!

To not make this too long a post, I'll briefly outline - with links - why and how I spend most of my spare time on this important topic. You can then use the comments to ask questions or to let me know where you'd like to get more information.


I've always been interested in the environment and conservation, so after watching Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth in 2007, it wasn't a big step for me to add climate change to my list of interests. I began to read books about the topic and scoured the internet for reliable information, making it ever clearer that this was a topic in dire need to get attention and to tackle. I also got ever more concerned the more I learned about it.


Sometime in 2009 I happened upon the website Skeptical Science (SkS) which had (and still has!) a big list of rebuttals to climate myths neatly sorted in a taxonomy of "It's not happening", '"It's not us", "It's not bad" and "It's too hard". Earlier in 2009, the website's creator John Cook had added translation capabilities to SkS and - even though I don't have a science background - I thought that I could help with translations into German and sent John an email. The rest, as they say, is history.


One thing let to another, like organising the translations into German within a small team and with the help of a wiki, publishing my first blog post in 2011, becoming a co-author on Quantifying the consensus on anthropogenic global warming in the scientific literature one of the most often cited (and attacked!) consensus studies published thus far (just search for "Cook et al. 2013" to see what I mean!), being involved with the development and running of our massive open online course (MOOC) "Denial101x - making sense of climate science denial" from the first idea to its now 12th iteration since 2015 (next run starts on March 5, 2019), mingling with scientists - and meeting SkS team members - at the American Geophysical Union (AGU) Fall Meeting in 2016 to visiting and presenting at the European Geoscience Union (EGU) General Assembly in 2018.

What else?

Through an e-introduction initiated by one of the other volunteers who help with Skeptical Science, I got involved with Citizens' Climate Lobby where I'm now active in the German "Bürgerlobby Klimaschutz" and also liase Europe-wide activities which mostly happens via a weekly conference call on Monday evenings.

Sorry, that got much longer than intended! For even more - like a list of the blog posts I've published on SkS - please check my profile page:


(*) Don't take my word for it, but watch Katharine Hayhoe's engaging TedTalk about this or read what sustainability experts have to say.

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  • Feb 11 at 10:03 PM

    You see a lot of the lists of things we can do to help in terms of climate change but I suspect that works for those who understand it's happening and want to change. The term "climate silence" is a new one for me, are there simple things I can do to point someone at or suggest to them? I've always found you either believe, or don't care I'm not sure I've ever encountered a middle ground but maybe I just did not recognise it. What can we do to help end the silence constructively?

    The debunking items on the SkS site are really interesting, will need to dive into that more.

  • Feb 12 at 12:05 PM

    Here are my thoughts about #FridaysForFuture Joachim Rees asked about in the other thread:

    I‘ve been following this from „inception“ when Greta Thunberg went on „school strike for the climate“ in Sweden last summer before the general elections there. From the beginning, I was fascinated by her stance, way with words and action and was happy to see it spill to other places and countries. One of my friends who is active with CCL in Sweden had joined Greta during her initial school strike days and he also met her parents and talked with her family at length. From his information and from what all I‘ve seen of her since, I‘m convinced that she‘s as authentic as can be. If you like to read more about her - in her own words - here is the link to a recent article based on one of her Facebook posts. She wrote it about a week ago when false claims about her and her family started to make the rounds on social media and elsewhere:

    What Greta started is now not just a European grass-roots movement but it‘s spreading all across the world. Thousands of teenagers go on strike regularly and in quite astonishing numbers in some cities. Here is a link to Greta‘s Instagram-account where she tries to keep up with pictures of strikes as she becomes aware of them (and as her time allows!).

    Since November, school strikes are for example also happening in Canada, where Sophia Mathur was - IIRC - the first kid (she‘s 11) to follow in Greta‘s footsteps. As luck would have it, I know her mother Cathy Orlando well as she‘s with CCL in Canada and also liases with the international CCL-groups and she‘s been telling us about Sophia‘s intention to go on strike one Friday per month and how they organise e.g her Twitter-activities (@SophiaMathur). Sophia recently made an appearance on Canadian broadcast radio and had her first LTE published. Quite an accomplishment for an 11-year old girl!

    As you can tell from this comment, I‘m in awe of what these kids and teenagers are doing and it gives me at least some hope that - if they stay strong and get the support they need and deserve - they‘ll be(come) a force to be reckoned with!

  • Feb 12 at 09:04 PM

    Thanks so much for pointing out the Skeptical Science website, and especially the rebuttal "taxonomy" -- what a great resource! And thanks much, much more for all the work you're doing on this critical issue.

  • Feb 14 at 05:28 PM

    I just happened upon a new video produced by Peter Sinclair for Yale Climate Connections. In it, statements from Greta Thunberg are interspersed with statements from climate scientists and footage of climate change impacts. It sure makes this a compelling plea on climate as the title implies. But don't take my word for it - better watch it yourself!

  • 6 days ago

    This is a great and important subject.

    What I'm seeing is that apart from denial the issue is that even people who agree and understand simply feel overwhelmed and powerless. In addition to offering people facts we also need to offer specific actions a single person could take to help. E.g. in your case you chose to help by contributing to this project. What could others do?

    • 6 days ago

      Thanks for your comment, Jelena!

      The article "16 Sustainability Leaders Weigh In: How YOU Can Help To Reverse Global Warming" (which I linked to in the "footnote" of my OP) contains several suggestions for specific actions somebody could take. Not all of them will work for everybody but everybody could find something in the "list" for themselves.

      Climate scientist Michael Mann for example states "[..]That means we must vote in politicians who favor action, vote out those who don’t, and put as much pressure as possible (in the form of activism, letter-writing, organizing, you name it) on our policymakers to act now.” Stefan Rahmstorf, a German oceaonagrapher, makes the same point: "Always vote for candidates and parties that work for climate protection.”

      Katharine Hayhoe mentions "The single most important thing we can do about climate change is, talk about it!" which is also the tenor of several others quoted in the article, like for example John Cook.

      Last but not least, check out Citizens' Climate Lobby (CCL) which I mentioned somewhat in passing in the OP, but which is a great opportunity for folks like you and me to get actively involved, to lobby for something concrete, namely a price on carbon ideally in combination with a dividend payed back to the citizens on a per capita basis. CCL's effort are behind Canada's new carbon pricing legislation and the bipartisan carbon pricing bill recently introduced in Washington D.C. My blog post from May 2017 Citizens’ Climate Lobby - Pushing for a price on carbon globally provides an overview about CCL and how it works.

      Anything for you in these suggestions and/or do you have any others?

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