Commentary calls for new 'science of climate diversity'

rain
Image: Wikipedia.

There is cloud hanging over climate science, but one Cornell University expert on communication and environmental issues says he knows how to help clear the air.

In the December issue of Nature Climate Change, Jonathon Schuldt, assistant professor of communication, argues that only by creating a "science of diversity" can climate science and the larger movement overcome a crippling lack of ethnic and racial diversity.

"There is an invisible, but very real barrier to climate engagement," Schuldt said. "We need to engage with all kinds of diverse folks if we're going to face this challenge. It will be a problem if the perception, and the reality, is that it's a bunch of white male scientists at the table."

The commentary, "Facing the diversity crisis on climate science," was born when Schuldt and co-author Adam Pearson, an assistant professor of psychology at Pomona College, began talking about University of Michigan Professor Dorceta Taylor report, "The State of Diversity in Environmental Organizations." In the report, Taylor examined non-profits, government agencies and grant-making foundations and found that non-white minorities comprised no more than 16 percent of staff in these institutions, in spite of constituting 29 percent of the U.S. science and engineering workforce and 38 percent of the American population. The report found that this "white Green Insiders club" narrows research and limits public engagement.

Schuldt agrees, but thinks more than just institutional changes are needed.

"What is missing is science-based solutions that focus on the fundamentally social nature of this problem," the authors state. "Research from social psychology offers insight into factors that can powerfully influence participation."

Schuldt and Pearson argue that early successes in diversifying other STEM research fields, and expanding the role women play in the environmental movement, point to three immediate and essential steps for climate research and outreach organizations.

First, boosting racial and in and outreach leadership can have an instant impact - provided this leadership is represented in how institutions present themselves. Put simply, Schuldt said, climate science "needs to present a more diverse face."

Next, the authors urge all those who communicate around climate science to confront lingering stereotypes about environmentalism and minority engagement. Schuldt said one of the most pernicious fallacies needs to quickly be dismantled: that concern for is lacking in America's non-white population. He notes recent work by social science researchers has shown this "underrepresentation by choice" idea to be false, and said climate leaders need to highlight the reality of deep minority community concern.

Lastly, the authors insist organizational messages can help bridge this gap. Among the most destructive ideas that needs to be abandoned, Schuldt said, is that communication around climate science should be "color blind."

"Color-blind communications are, paradoxically, ineffective," Schuldt said. "What it implies to minority individuals is that their unique perspectives and experiences don't matter."

Instead, Schuldt suggested, messages that highlight diversity while pointing toward a common goal are key: "We are all different, but we're all in this together."

The long-range goal, Schuldt and Pearson state, needs to be the creation of a new science of climate diversity. Climate scientists must collaborate with psychology and the social sciences, and these research partnerships need to be supported by academic, public and private institutions alike. Once that is done and a "new nexus of research" begins to form around how and the climate change movement can increase racial and ethnic diversity, those fact-based findings can be used to guide public climate advocacy and policy reform efforts. That, Schuldt said, is the only way a problem as complex and far-reaching as climate change can effectively, and equitably, be addressed.

"Diverse teams are better at solving complex problems, and there's every reason to believe this is the same, if not more important, when facing climate change," Schuldt said.


Explore further

How do we talk about climate change? The need for strategic conversations

Journal information: Nature Climate Change

Provided by Cornell University
Citation: Commentary calls for new 'science of climate diversity' (2014, December 8) retrieved 21 August 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2014-12-commentary-science-climate-diversity.html
This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.
0 shares

Feedback to editors

User comments

Dec 08, 2014
Throwing out the race card for global warming and climate science, I love it.

Dec 08, 2014
Shark jumping time.

Dec 08, 2014
Logic usually loses against political prejudice in the United States. I think it is because of religion and Reagan, both of which say every opinion is just as good as any other one, despite education or intellect or experience.

Dec 08, 2014
Striving to get all people educated and engaged is a worthy goal. Trying to get people engaged for the appearance of diversity, not so much.

Dec 08, 2014
"Trying to get people engaged for the appearance of diversity, not so much."
-----------------------------------------

It has nothing to do with appearance, but how to reach folk in their own vernacular and situations.

Dec 08, 2014
You bet. Everybody knows the teams that win the titles in the NFL and NBA are those that hire with an eye to achieving diversity rather than just getting the best jocks when they're recruiting. Why hire the best when you can be diverse? It makes the team come together to overcome adversity or something. I'm sure it would work the same way in science. The hell with degrees and accomplishments and getting the people with the drive to do the science. If they tried they could hire an incredibly diverse climate science team through some form of scientific affirmative action. Then we would have fair science with true social justice . . . and peace will guide the planets and truth will rule the stars.

Dec 08, 2014
Ha ha ha haaaa! "Climate diversity" as science. Ha ha ha haaaa! Thanks for the laughs, The Onion! Oh...wait...that was in Nature Climate Change. Bwa ha ha HAAA!

It's wonderful to live in a country with such incredible prosperity that people have to invent fake problems...that other people actually believe!

Dec 08, 2014
If you can't pass the math and physics. You can't advance onto a hard science such as this...


Dec 08, 2014
And here I thought the article would be about a diversity of viewpoints and approaches to actually creating predictive climate models that might be of practical use to science rather than politics... I should have known. Can we just officially shift climatology over to one of the humanities departments, poly-sci even.

Dec 08, 2014
Yes, coal is hazardous to mine, costly to transport, and generates fine respirable ash containing trace heavy metals. But the Sierra Club has no answer for the small coal-burning cooking fires spread across India and many developing nations as well as their need for reliable electricity. Let's thrust these billions of people back into dark subsistence living. All European nations, including Germany, are finally walking away from the massive government subsidies to prop up wind and solar. CO2 causing Global Warming is a First World conceit. Start talking to INDEPENDENT geoscientists and the variable geothermal heat coming from within the planet, as well as all the simple molecules generated to support life -- Abiotic Methane, etc.

Dec 08, 2014
Yes, climate science - chuckle - is a "hard science." Hard to compete with the government grants to properly-profiled "experts" who will profitably "evaluate" climate change; hard to get papers through politicized editorial boards; hard to catch your breath to not die laughing at all the celebrities and politicians and basket-weaving "scientists" whose imagination is taxed (while we pay the real tax) inventing new ways to explain why climate change science has not successfully - as required by any legitimate science - made quantitative predictions that have been subsequently verified in detail (with the original data prior to "modulation").

Dec 08, 2014
Yes, coal is hazardous to mine, costly to transport, and generates fine respirable ash containing trace heavy metals. But the Sierra Club has no answer for the small coal-burning cooking fires spread across India and many developing nations as well as their need for reliable electricity. Let's thrust these billions of people back into dark subsistence living. All European nations, including Germany, are finally walking away from the massive government subsidies to prop up wind and solar. CO2 causing Global Warming is a First World conceit. Start talking to INDEPENDENT geoscientists and the variable geothermal heat coming from within the planet, as well as all the simple molecules generated to support life -- Abiotic Methane, etc.

Dec 08, 2014
This comment has been removed by a moderator.

Dec 09, 2014
"white Green Insiders club", "bunch of white male scientists", "crippling lack of ethnic and racial diversity"--contradicted by his figures which put non-white minorities at 15-16% ie one in seven. Jonathon Schuldt from his Cornell university picture looks a bald "white man". What right does a white person have to write "Color-blind communications ... implies to minority individuals is that their unique perspectives and experiences don't matter." IMPLIES! -- so we have this non-white male telling non-white people that his reasoning informs him--ie "implies"--that they only appreciate scientific issues if presented by non-whites. That is raciest since Schuldt stigmatizes on the basis of his reasoning (no evidence, not even the experience of being a nonwhite minority) that non-white people lack the ability to understand an issue that has nothing to do with race (which is the case for climate change in the US) as that--an issue that has nothing to do with being white or non-white.


Dec 09, 2014
When I was in school they called it Pop-ecology, Schulty2012. I am more convinced that it hasn't changed since then every time some idiots like these open their mouths.

Dec 09, 2014
How far did you get in school?

And I'll bet it was really good at science, judging by the nomenclature.

You illustrate the problem of teaching complex topics to those with no background to understand them.

Dec 09, 2014
"The mainstream scientists managed to ignore many important findings (like the cold fusion) from solely egoistic economical reasons: for to maintain their alternative research for ever."
--------------------------------------------------------

You can't really believe that.

If you are so hot on cold fusion, go work with it!! We could really use it.

Dec 14, 2014
It is not surprising to see a propaganda expert believe that building a consensus proves a theory that ignores the evidence.
This has been standard practice in modern science.


Dec 14, 2014
This comment has been removed by a moderator.

Dec 14, 2014
imido, what are you whining about? GO DO IT!!

I am serious. If you believe in it, go do it!!

Surely you have some talent they can use. Go do it.


Dec 14, 2014
...mainstream scientists...plays no role here at all
@ZEPHIR AKA imido AKA selena AKA etc etc etc

you've harped on this for years...

problem is NOT that there is no science out there addressing the issue... because science is looking into A LOT of alternatives

the problem is that there is NO LEGITIMATE REAL SCIENCE out there that has built a working model, regardless of your personal claims

ANYONE can set up a web page and spout some science-y sounding bullsnot which, as i've noticed, always catches YOUR eye... (take aw/daw- falsified here: http://arxiv.org/...1284.pdf REGARDLESS of your belief or faith in it... it is falsified, so it is NOT a theory, it is a RELIGION now )

and your continual postings don't help promote the ACTUAL science!

especially when (typically) your cold fusion study you posted to me a few months back was RETRACTED from the reputable journal for being PSEUDOSCIENCE
but he still kept the real looking titles, i noticed!


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more