Tag Archives: Climate Change

Trump and Science: A conversation with Shawn Otto

Shawn Otto

On November 8th, 2016, the entire planet received a punch in the gut. A political worst nightmare happened. The most qualified person to ever run for the office of President of the United States, Hillary Clinton, was defeated by the least qualified person to ever run for President, Donald Trump.

Since that fateful night, we’ve had the opportunity to see if things would end up being as bad as many suspected, as the Trump transition team puts together its future cabinet. It turns out we were wrong. Things are looking like they will be even worse than worst case. For this, there is not even a word.

How Should We Respond to the Election of Trump?

This week we speak with Shawn Otto, author of

The War on Science: Who’s Waging It, Why It Matters, What We Can Do About It, about the implications of the presumed Donald Trump presidency, especially with respect to science policy. Given the way the Trump cabinet is forming up, this becomes an incredibly important conversation.

Shawn is also a co-founder of ScienceDebate.org.

You probably know that Shawn is an excellent writer, a promoter of science and science based policy, and a highly regarded political and social analyst. You might not know that Shawn is an experienced political operative as well, having run difficult but successful campaigns. Both of us (Haubrich and Laden) have experience working on campaigns, and we see Shawn as one of the regional go-to political gurus. During this podcast, we hear some of Shawn’s analysis of what happened in the recent national election in the US. Did Donald Trump win this election, or did Hillary Clinton lose it? And how did that happen? Is this the first Facebook-Twitter election?

In case you are interested in looking at some of the primary literature related to the rise of modern science, check out
Francis Bacon: The Major Works (Oxford World’s Classics).

Shawn’s earlier interview on Ikonokast is here.

We hope you enjoy our conversation with Shawn Otto:

Climate Change and Hurricane Matthew, with Michael Mann

In this iteration of the Ikonokast Podcast we interview Pennsylvania State University Professor Michael Mann.

mann_treeringDr. Michael Mann is Distinguished Professor of Atmospheric Science at Penn State University, with a joint appointment in the Department of Geosciences, and another joint appointment in the Earth and Environmental Systems Institute. He is director of the Penn State Earth System Science Center.

Michael Mann is most famous for his identification of the “Hockey Stick,” the phenomenon of abrupt and dramatic rise of the Earth’s surface temperatures owing to human greenhouse gas pollution. This has made him a target for attacks by science deniers and puppets of the petroleum industry who would prefer that we not notice climate change.

What you might not know is that Dr. Mann is also the leader of one of the teams of scientists that issue annual predictions of the severity and characteristics of the Atlantic Hurricane season. Even as Hurricane Matthew is churning through the Caribbean and the waters off the US Southeast, we discuss the ways in which human caused global warming increases risks from Atlantic hurricanes, as well as some of the unique features of this particular storm. We also check in to see how well Dr. Mann’s team did with their prediction this year!

ikonokast_interview_greg_laden_mike_haubrich_michael_mann_madhouse_effect_book_coverWe also cover the true and very interesting story behind Michael Mann’s discovery of the Hockey Stick. This is an Ikonokast exclusive. In case you’ve ever wondered how major scientific discoveries come about, this story is an excellent, previously untold (on a podcast) example.

Much of this episode focuses on work behind, and meaning within, Professor Mann’s latest book, The Madhouse Effect: How Climate Change Denial Is Threatening Our Planet, Destroying Our Politics, and Driving Us Crazy with cartoonist Tom Toles. From the publisher:

Through satire, “The Madhouse Effect” portrays the intellectual pretzels into which denialists must twist logic to explain away the clear evidence that man-made activity has changed our climate. Toles’s cartoons collapse counter-scientific strategies into their biased components, helping readers see how to best strike at these fallacies. Mann’s expert skills at science communication aim to restore sanity to a debate that continues to rage against widely acknowledged scientific consensus. The synergy of these two commonsense crusaders enlivens the gloom and doom of so many climate-themed books–and may even convert a few of the faithful to the right side of science.

We also discuss Mann’s two other books, Dire Predictions, 2nd Edition: Understanding Climate Change, and The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars: Dispatches from the Front Lines
ikonokast_interview_mann_dire_predictionsMuch of our discussion covers the nature of climate change denial, and we talk about its decline as a factor in policy making and politics. Very few politicians today call climate change a hoax. (There are some, though.) This change has come about in part because of the tireless efforts of scientists like Dr. Mann who expend significant effort effectively communicating the causes and consequences of climate change to the general public and the press.

We also discuss the potential outcomes of the collapse of the Atlantic Conveyor current, the current rapid heating of the Earth’s surface, with record breaking year after record breaking year, and the likely heating to happen over the next several years.

Learn how to become an effective science communicator, which can include the use of humor, and what the key problems are that have to be overcome to address climate change, and much much more, in this information packed episode of our podcast.

What About Water? Peter Gleick on the California Drought

The status of the California drought, and other matters

What is the current status of the California Drought? How does the California Drought compare to the drought in Syria? How does the drought affect agriculture and the economy in California, and how does climate change affect the food supply globally?

A Conversation with Peter Gleick of California’s Pacific Institute

The water in Arizona runs through canals in the desert to get to Phoenix. It travels in the summer through heat and sun, with temperatures often higher than 100 ° Fahrenheit. A large portion of that water must evaporate. This brings home the value of water to Arizonans.

The California drought is in its fourth year. Agriculture is having to adapt. Gardeners see the need to adapt to the new reality. The current El Niño event is not likely to make up for the deficit and reservoirs are running dry as the snow in the mountains is not going to make up for the shortage of rainfall.

Dr. Peter GleickDr. Peter Gleick of the Pacific Institute is our guest for this show. We talked about how our society needs to reshape our policies and practices in order to meet the increasing demands for water. Dr. Gleick is a leading scientist, innovator and communicator on global water and climate issues. Elected to the U.S. National Academy of Sciences in 2006, he is the author and editor of many published papers as well as ten books on the subject of water.

Among the topics covered in this episode are the role of drought in numerous conflicts around the world, the concept of virtual water, using local and state policy to fight climate change and whether or not saving water in Seattle is as important as it is in Sacramento.

Please take the opportunity to look through Peter’s books as listed on Amazon. Purchases that you make through these links help to support Ikonokast and, of course, Peter’s work at the Pacific Institute.

Bottled and Sold: The Story Behind Our Obsession with Bottled Water

Water in Crisis: A Guide to the World’s Fresh Water Resources

Significant Figures on ScienceBlogs