1 January 2015

What should climate scientists advocate for?

Gavin Schmidt

Schmidt is a climate modeler at NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies. Using atmospheric general-circulation models, as well as...


In recent years, with the rise of social media, many more scientists are becoming public communicators. In politicized fields such as climate science, these communications can attract disproportionate attention. The author argues that public statements in such a situation are inevitably advocacy for some position, view, or outcome. However, rather than suggesting that scientists avoid advocacy in a misplaced attempt to remain objective, he recommends that scientists be explicit about the combination of values and science that drives their views, and discusses the ways scientists can ensure that their advocacy remains responsible.