Friday, March 11, 2011

The MVP of climate change communication

The Center for Climate Change Communication at George Mason is giving out the third Climate Change Communicator of the Year award. Voting is open until April 15th.

The award raises a question that comes up around award time in the sporting world. Is the most valuable player the one who produces the most - say, hits the most home runs - regardless of the success of their team? Or is the most valuable player the one who captained or contributed the most to a successful team?

If you believe the former, then the communicator of the year is the one who racked up the most statistics, be it blog posts, policy briefings, public talks, op-eds, etc. Given the rough state of public and political discourse on climate change, maybe this is like voting for the slugger on the last place team. One could argue that the most valuable communicators may not score well using the standard individual metrics, but doing more to advance the "cause".

That raises a second question: for what should we award a climate change communicator? Advancing public understanding of the science? Or influencing public or political opinion on climate change policy or solutions? These are two very different goals. The most valuable communicators might in fact be ones who best help audiences differentiate between science and judgments made based on science. In that view, the most valuable communicator will not be the strongest advocate for action.


John Mashey said...

Good questions.
While parts of George mason U seem pretty dodgy, Ed Maibach there runs this and is a good guy. Emila him and see what he says.

EliRabett said...