Score two for science communicators.

Check out this terrific ad campaign from the Union of Concerned Scientists (the same organization that, in the past, has over-employed fear as a centerpiece of its messaging tactics). Here we are able to connect on a personal level to individual scientists as we learn more about their work and how it directly relates to climate change. I, for one, was drawn to this picture largely because my four young kids play baseball and, much like the child pictured here, one of them also seems “just as interested in catching butterflies” in the outfield.  Bravo UCS! (Thanks to the king of effective science communication strategies, Randy Olson , for the heads-up.)

david-small_sciencecheerleader Ever since I was a kid, I’ve been asking questions about the birds and the bees. How do they fly? What do they eat? Now that I’m a trained scientist, my questions may be more sophisticated, but the passion is the same. I wonder what climate change is doing to the life cycle of wildflowers, and how bumblebees and hummingbirds are reacting to those changes. The bug’s-eye view shows me that our world is warming like never before. My name is David Inouye, and I’m a concerned scientist.
To learn more about my work, visit http://www.ucsusa.org/evidence

The careful tracking of bloom times over many years provides an important indicator of climate change. Consider volunteering to help researchers observe and record bloom times around the country by joining one of several “citizen science” projects. Learn more about these projects and how how you can get involved on SciCheer’s sister site: Science For Citizens.

While we’re talking about effective science communications, let me ask this: What do you envision when I say: “a National Academy of Engineering Communications Officer”…?

Think again. Check out this short, entertaining video starring the NAE’s communications team! It was used during last week’s Communications Conference at the National Academies as a preamble to the team’s introduction. Clever way to, again, connect to “real” people. Bye-bye-bye!

  • Ahuertas

    I appreciate you highlighting what we did with the ad campaign. I'm definitely proud of it and I hope science communicators can continue to put a human face on science.

    However, I take exception to characterizing our past work as being based on “fear.” Instead, we've sought to highlight the idea that we actually have a choice when it comes to the severity of climate change: stay addicted to fossil fuels or switch to cleaner energy use. We highlight problems, but we always focus on solutions, too. You can see this in our climate impact analyses, which spell out the consequences of both a lower-emissions and higher-emissions futures for various regions of the United States. We've compiled two of our major analyses at climatechoices.org.

    Thanks,
    Aaron Huertas
    Union of Concerned Scientists

  • Thanks for writing, Aaron. I'm on your mailing list so I receive all the emails urging me to act (immediately?) on a variety of issues. I have to say (again, as I said this all before here: http://www.sciencecheerleader.com/2008/09/some_… ) the hint of hysteria embedded in the calls to action cause me to tune out the emails. One or two sequential emails like that wouldn't be a problem. It seemed, however, every message I received was more urgent than the former one. That negative experience made my recent reintroduction to UCS all the sweeter. Those ads are terrific and they strike a perfect chord. Someone in your communications/PR office deserves an award.

  • BD

    Sent my mother the baseball picture and she replied, “Funny, that looks like my son.” 😉

  • BD

    Sent my mother the baseball picture and she replied, “Funny, that looks like my son.” 😉

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  • Ahuertas

    Thanks for sharing your more nuanced views on this. I do remember the older post to which you link. You'll be happy to know we're still doing the cartoon calendar.

    Generally, we try to differentiate between fear and urgency, as do many other groups that are trying to communicate about the threats climate change, nuclear proliferation and the systematic abuse of science pose to society. We also want to make sure we're providing emails and actions to our members and activists that are effective, so this feedback is helpful.

  • Ahuertas

    Thanks for sharing your more nuanced views on this. I do remember the older post to which you link. You'll be happy to know we're still doing the cartoon calendar.

    Generally, we try to differentiate between fear and urgency, as do many other groups that are trying to communicate about the threats climate change, nuclear proliferation and the systematic abuse of science pose to society. We also want to make sure we're providing emails and actions to our members and activists that are effective, so this feedback is helpful.