Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Understanding Science

I have been paying a lot of attention to the comments of journalist Chris Mooney at his blog: intersection (of science and journalism). Mooney and Matthew Nisbet had an article in the Public Forum section of Science Magazine (April 6) in which they challenged scientists to do a better job of "framing" their discourse.

Framing is a serious matter of explaining the facts of science in such a manner as to make them relevant to the audience, be that other scientists, informed journalists or just you and I. They argue that scientists need to do more than repeat Jack Webb's "just the facts,Ma'am." Their article ends with...
Some readers may consider our proposals too Orwellian, preferring the traditional model of safely sticking to the facts. Yet scientists must realize that these facts will be repeatedly misapplied and twisted in direct proportion to their relevance to the political debate and decision-making. In short, as unnatural as it might feel, in many cases, scientists should strategically avoid emphasizing the technical details of science when trying to defend it.
The result was rather blog overload for Mooney and elicited some very fine commentary from other bloggers.

Now, what does this have to do with Dana Rohrabacher? Maybe, it is the fact that he has chosen to frame his opinion of science as a joke, humor for the 5:00 news, or at least for other bloggers share his entertaining video.

The problem is that global warming is not a joke. There are going to be very real consequences for our ignoring this fact. I can think of no area where those consequences are going to be be felt more keenly than in Orange County. With local governments being funded by developer mitigation fees one should pay close attention to where the water is going to come from to support that growth. The forecasts of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report on Climate Change Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability are for ever increasing drought in the American Southwest. That translates directly into less water for the Metropolitan Water District.
Warming in western mountains is projected to cause decreased snowpack, more winter flooding, and reduced summer flows, exacerbating competition for over-allocated water resources.(IPPC Summary p. 12)
If snow does not fall in the Rockies, there will not be water in the Colorado River. If snow does not fall in the Sierra Nevada, there will not be water flowing into the Sacramento - San Joaquin Delta and South to the LA Metropolitan Area. If it falls as rain, the delta will flood.

We have a choice. We can act now to mitigate the effects of the future we know is coming or we can make jokes about dinosaurs. We know what Crazy Dana has done. What will you do when the flow of water becomes a trickle? Will you still be laughing at Rohrabacher's jokes?

One way we can start to mitigate the effects of climate change is to elect a Congressman who takes the problem seriously.

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