What Role for Experts in the Climate Debate?
Balancing Trust, Advocacy, and Social Change
--Guest post by Greg Alvarez
The release this week of the latest United Nations report on climate change has generated renewed debate over the role that scientists should play in mobilizing support for policy action. Some scientists are hesitant to enter this arena, fearing that such advocacy has the potential to undermine their credibility and objectivity, while eroding the public’s confidence in their work.
Others believe that the scope and immediacy of the climate crisis compels them to become advocates for political action, and that if done appropriately, such a role does not conflict with their work as scientists. Bill McKibben even went so far as to argue this week that scientists should “go on strike,” no longer talking about their science. “At this point the white lab coats would be better used drawing attention to sit-ins and protests than drawing yet another set of ignored conclusions,” he wrote.