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Andy Revkin
Dot Earth and Pace University
Andrew C. Revkin is a senior fellow at Pace University’s Pace Academy for Applied Environmental Studies. He has been reporting on the environment for The New York Times since 1995. In 2003, he became the first Times reporter to file stories and photos from the sea ice around the Pole. He spearheaded a three-part Times series and one-hour documentary in 2005 on the transforming Arctic and another series, “The Climate Divide,” on the uneven impacts of climate change. In 2009, he left the to join Pace University, but continues to write the Dot Earth blog. He has written books on the Amazon rain forest, global warming and the once and future Arctic. Before joining The Times, Mr. Revkin was a senior editor of Discover, a staff writer for the Los Angeles Times, and a senior writer at Science Digest. Mr. Revkin has a biology degree from Brown and a Master’s degree in journalism from Columbia. He has taught at Columbia’s Graduate School of Journalism and the Bard College Center for Environmental Policy. (Bio abridged from

#1: Testing Climate Communication Hypotheses
Those who work in the climate communications trenches continue to search for the most compelling strategy for communicating climate change. We’re still learning how best to engage a diverse and ideologically divided public. We’re still asking questions. We’re still testing ideas. Focus groups and polling have yielded some hypotheses to operate from in crafting climate communication, but we need to discuss whether there’s substantial enough evidence to support these hypotheses. People seem to respond to knowing what they can do, in their lives, to reduce their carbon footprint. But does doing that move them to call for political action on climate? For example, we know people care deeply about their health. But do they make the connection between a sick planet and the maladies plaguing its people with growing frequency and range? Polling and brainstorming haven’t yet answered these questions.

Even when our communications strategies receive broad media coverage, how do we measure results? What online tools could help? How do we know we are communicating effectively to generate public interest and engagement around climate change? What will it take to break through the yawning ideological divide in a political culture that discourages a reliance on facts in favor of positions based more on faith? In this panel we will explore lessons learned and hear from others about what works, what doesn’t, and what new models might be next.

Plenary Panel:

Bob Deans, NRDC
Robert Dean spent 30 years in the newspaper industry as a reporter for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and other publications and is a former president of the White House Correspondents’ Association. Currently NRDC’s associate director of communications, Deans is the author of the 2007 book “The River Where America Began: A Journey Along the James” and co-author of “Clean Energy Common Sense” and “In Deep Water: The Anatomy of a Disaster, The Fate of the Gulf, and Ending Our Oil Addiction.”
(Bio from

Lisa Dropkin, Edge Research
Lisa Dropkin, a Principal at Edge Research, works with a diverse array of clients, from Fortune 1000 companies like Intuit (makers of Quicken and TurboTax) to progressive non-profits. She takes the best research practices in branding, marketing, packaging and product development from her clients in the business sector and leverages them for her issue advocacy and membership development work with non-profit organizations. Over the years she has conducted research for a host of conservation organizations, and is often sought out to speak on trends in sustainability and conservation. Prior to joining Edge Research, she served as research director for SeaWeb, an innovative non-profit specializing in ocean conservation communication. Previously she spent seven years (her last year as Vice-President) at the Mellman Group, a national public opinion research and campaign strategy firm. Lisa has a B.A in Political Communications from the George Washington University in Washington, DC. She is Chair of the board of the Green Media Toolshed, an application service provider supporting media communications for environmental organizations. Professional memberships include the Council of American Survey Research Organizations, the Marketing Research Association and the Qualitative Research Consultants Association. (Bio abridged from

Dr. Ed Maibach, George Mason University
Dr. Edward Maibach is a University Professor and Director of Mason’s Center for Climate Change Communication (4C). In the Department of Communication, he teaches seminars in climate change communication, strategic communication, and social marketing. His research currently focuses exclusively on how to mobilize populations to adopt behaviors and support public policies that reduce greenhouse gas emissions and help communities adapt to the unavoidable consequences of climate change. Dr. Maibach holds a BA in social psychology from University of California at San Diego (1980), an MPH in health promotion from San Diego State University (1983), and a PhD in communication research from Stanford University (1990). Dr. Maibach previously had the pleasure to serve as Associate Director of the National Cancer Institute, Worldwide Director of Social Marketing at Porter Novelli, and Chairman of the Board for Kidsave International. He has also held academic positions at George Washington University and Emory University.
(Bio abridged from

#2: Credibility, Trust, Goodwill, and Persuasion
There is a critical need to transition from a ‘community of interest’ to a genuine ‘community of practice’ in science communication. This plenary panel will discuss the latest science of science communication, psychology, sociology, media studies, rhetoric, and more to ask: where are the edges of our current understanding? What are we routinely getting wrong and how can we redirect that effort? How do we bridge cultural divides between scholars and practitioners of science communication? Are there special insights about climate science that we particularly need to understand? This session will emphasize how we can make better use of the best available science ourselves and improve climate science communication.

Plenary Panel:

Dr. Tom Armstrong, U.S. Global Change Research Program Dr. Thomas Armstrong joined the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy as the Director of National Coordination for the U.S. Global Change Research Program in March 2011. Tom previously served as the Department of the Interior’s (DOI) Senior Advisor for Climate Change and was a key figure in the implementation of Secretary Salazar’s Executive Order on climate change (S.O. 3289), as well as in the development of the Department’s climate change-related policies, organizational elements and budget strategies. Dr. Armstrong served as the Vice-Chair for Adaptation Science on the CENRS Subcommittee on Global Change and was the Principal for DOI to the United States Global Change Research Program. Some of his other responsibilities have included serving as the Senior Advisor for Global Change Program at the U.S. Geological Survey, the DOI lead for the World Climate Conference, the United States Head of Delegation for the Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme (AMAP), Associate to the Chair for development of the Committee on Earth Observation Satellites (CEOS) response to Global Climate Observing System (GCOS) Implementation Plan, a United States delegate for the United Nations Framework Council on Climate Change, advisor on DOI’s International Polar Year activities, a DOI principal to the CEQ-OSTP-NOAA Climate Change Adaptation Taskforce, and as Chair of the Science Committee for the Department of the Interior’s Climate Change Task Force. (Bio from

Dr. Dan Kahan, Yale University
Dan Kahan is the Elizabeth K. Dollard Professor of Law and Professor of Psychology at Yale Law School. In addition to risk perception, his areas of research include criminal law and evidence. Prior to coming to Yale in 1999, Professor Kahan was on the faculty of the University of Chicago Law School. He also served as a law clerk to Justice Thurgood Marshall of the U.S. Supreme Court (1990-91) and to Judge Harry Edwards of the United States Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit (1989-90). He received his B.A. from Middlebury College and his J.D. from Harvard University. (Bio from

Dr. Michael Mann, Penn State University
Dr. Michael E. Mann is Distinguished Professor of Meteorology at Penn State University, with joint appointments in the Department ofGeosciences and the Earth and Environmental Systems Institute(EESI). He is also director of the Penn State Earth System Science Center (ESSC). Dr. Mann received his undergraduate degrees in Physics and Applied Math from the University of California at Berkeley, an M.S. degree in Physics from Yale University, and a Ph.D. in Geology & Geophysics from Yale University. His research involves the use of theoretical models and observational data to better understand Earth’s climate system. Dr. Mann was a Lead Author on the Observed Climate Variability and Change chapter of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Third Scientific Assessment Report in 2001 and was organizing committee chair for the National Academy of Sciences Frontiers of Science in 2003. He has received a number of honors and awards including NOAA’s outstanding publication award in 2002 and selection by Scientific American as one of the fifty leading visionaries in science and technology in 2002. He contributed, with other IPCC authors, to the award of the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize. He was awarded the Hans Oeschger Medal of the European Geosciences Union in 2012. He is a Fellow of both the American Geophysical Union and the American Meteorological Society. Dr. Mann is author of more than 150 peer-reviewed and edited publications, and has published two books including Dire Predictions: Understanding Global Warming in 2008 and The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars: Dispatches from the Front Lines in 2012. He is also a co-founder and avid contributor to the award-winning science

A Taxonomy of Climate Media (Session 5C)
moderated by Joseph Davis
The complete list of sources for climate science, policy, news, and opinion is vast, growing, and changing all the time. Can you name all the hashtags related to climate? All the blogs? The key listservs you should be on? This session will be collaborative effort to build and share a list (or really a set of lists ) cataloguing as many as possible of the various “media” focused on climate — traditional and untraditional, online and otherwise, social and anti-social, scientific and lay, public and secret, professional and unprofessional, paid and free, advocacy and objective, wild or wooly… you name it. Participants should come with your own pre-fab lists, then we will collate, add, discuss, and taxonomize. Most importantly: the collaborative product will be shared afterward in the “Information Management” workshop and beyond.

Can Art Provide a Deeper Understanding of Climate Change? (Session 1C)
moderated by Michele Banks
Art is an important way of engaging about climate change on a visceral, intuitive level, connecting with people’s feelings about and relationship with the environment in a way that typical presentations of scientific information cannot. Considering art forms from painting to poetry, sculpture to science fiction, movies and more, we’ll explore the tension between fact and aesthetic. Can art obscure or romanticize climate change? Can we include education and/or advocacy without muddying the artistic waters? The focus in this session is how art aids us in understanding a problem.

Climate Change Effects And Agriculture: Between Hell And Highwater (Session 3A)
moderated by Kathleen Raven
Food is a topic with the power to span incredible distances between our own gut feelings, massive business interests, and shifts in our planetary ecosystems. Shared meals are a fundamental component of human culture, and they can be a way to bring us together to discuss how agriculture is both contributing to, and being affected by, global changes. We have many challenges in front of us: Are GMOs an answer to changing rainfall patterns? What’s the tradeoff of clearing land to grow more food? Does becoming a locavore actually help? People are hungry for answers, but when it comes to issues around food and climate, pseudoscience, non-science, and nonsense abound – from both extremes of the ideological spectrum. Is there an aspect of the intersection between climate and food, scientifically correct, that can be used as a meeting ground?

Climate Problems. Gameful Answers. Using Games for Science (Session 2D)
moderated by Erik Martin
This session will focus on improving climate science engagement and education through the innovative use of games (today’s largest entertainment media!). Topics such as what games and gamifications have been made effectively and successfully in the field, what real world impact they have, and what it takes to make such games. Understanding good game design and the balance of “fun” with “fact” will also be an important part of the discussion! And of course, brainstorming new unexplored applications of games and climate science.

Communicating Climate Change as a Non-Expert (Session 6A)
moderated by Emily Finke
As nice as it would be to stick to discussing things in our own field, or on our own beat, that’s not always possible. So how do those of us trained in other areas effectively communicate the science and the risks of climate change when we might be on shaky ground with some of the in-depth details ourselves. Additionally, how do we help people understand which authorities and resources are trustworthy. How do we explain and model effective information gathering so that people can evaluate sources and news themselves?

Engagement Strategies: The Climate Change Threat Index & Beyond (Session 2C)
moderated by Laura Johnston
From extreme weather and An Inconvenient Truth to fiery op-eds or media coverage of ClimateGate, we often casually speculate as to the causes of shifts in public attitudes around climate. This session will draw from more scientific approaches to measuring the effectiveness of various inputs into the public’s concern about climate change. For example, Brulle et al.’s Climate Change Threat Index (CCTI) paper ( that “US views on climate change are largely affected by the actions of political groups.” Does this mean we should largely rely on political groups to drive public opinion or are there additional lessons to take away from this analysis? How do current activities designed to influence the climate debate relate to CCTI?

How can Arts and Entertainment contribute? (Session 4D)
moderated by Ben Lillie
How can/should/do we think about the role of arts and entertainment in communicating about climate change? There’s the obvious answers with activist art and documentaries, but there are also venues and modes that generally reject explicit activism or didacticism — some by choice, some by constraints of the publisher/broadcaster/etc. This session will explore the role for these programs, whether through building basic support for science, or by reaching people who avoid or are turned off by political arguments. The focus in this session is how art aids us in sharing ideas with new audiences.

In the absence of federal policy… (Session 6B)
moderated by Elke Hodson
The inertia of, and obstacles to, national and international has prompted many to focus on action at the state, municipal, and non-governmental level. Consider state programs (ranging from California to RGGI to the RE and EE regs), to city efficiency and building code programs, to FERC Order 1000 and grid operators management, etc. What’s the best way to generate interest in and momentum for these programs? Are there effective online platforms for engaging or cross-pollination among these groups?

Lamenting Eden – Climate Change Discussions Across Ideologies (Session 4A)
moderated by Zack Baize
This session will focus on identifying non-traditional allies and finding common ground with people where none is apparent. In particular, we’ll explore the role of religious individuals in climate action. For example, evangelical Christians, as one of the largest self-selecting identity groups in the United States, are simultaneously one of the least educated about, and least receptive to, the concept of anthropogenic climate change. Each religious group is a unique epistemic community, with its own indicative language, norms, and implicit meanings. We’ll talk about apocalyptic language, end-of-days beliefs, and more. Rather than assuming religious groups are an audience to be converted, we’ll explore how can we use social media to bring them into the wider climate change discussion as partners and collaborators.

Making the Invisible Visible: Technology to Put Climate Where People Can See It (Session 2E)
moderated by David Bend

Climate activists often bemoan the fact that climate change seems tailored to our weaknesses: people are bad at responding to things that are distant, hard to see, and hard to get feedback on. Yet we’re starting to see technologies that make information immediate and pervasive: Personal sensors that fit on your phone; Billboards that change with the environment around them; Houses that switch energy sources based on the weather. These new technologies have the potential to make changes easy to spot and action easy to take. We’re starting to see technologies that make information immediate and pervasive–which might be expected to bring things into our awareness more quickly and vividly than has been possible before. What does social science tell us about these kinds of informational feedback? What are some early examples, and what new developments along these lines should we expect? And what can we do to support pervasive computing that makes the world a better place?

Open Climate: Making Climate Policy-relevant Information Transparent (Session 4E)
moderated by Megan McVey

President Obama has vowed to create an unprecedented level of openness in government. How can we generate more government support for making climate policy-relevant information available more widely across agencies and to the public? On the one hand, the sausage-making process of policy development is either not appealing to the public or non-transparent to preserve early-stage analysis, but this often occurs at the expense of keeping too much information at a “close hold.” Current activities (e.g., NOAA, NASA, USGCRP communications) suggest and interest in sharing policy-relevant information via social media, but this seems to come up short in practice. Can we articulate what we want, what we need, and how we might get there?

Optimism and hope and the long run (Session 1B)
moderated by Jen Davison
What is the difference between optimism and hope? Emotional responses to climate change are just as important (perhaps much more) than intellectual ones. Experts, activists, and audiences alike experience reactions of rage, fear, and hopelessness. When people argue that changes in emissions won’t make a difference anyway, or when they refuse to make sacrifices today to prevent future damage, where might the conversation turn? We hope this session will bring in perspectives from behavior and social scientists to understand the psychology of climate change.

Problem solving, democracy, and handling climate change (Session 5B)
moderated by Michael Halpern
So-called “wicked problems” are those that cannot be solved by facts because they are driven by values. These values make it difficult for stakeholders to agree on problem definition, among other things. Democracies are fundamentally about we function as a diverse collective of individuals with very different values and priorities. Are climate communicators sufficiently fluent in issues of governance and power, of scale, and of social change? Locally, nationally, and globally, how can we strengthen cultures of problem-solving at the same time as we make society better equipped to handle climate change? How can online engagement shift power dynamics? Can new tools strengthen our social institutions and the links between voters and officeholders making climate policies? Do we know which climate impacts and governance issues are local and which are national? Do we know how they interact?

Social Media 201 (Session 3C)
moderated by Deirdre Lockwood
After you’re familiar with the biggest players in the social media pond, and you have a basic proficiency in how to use the technology, it’s time to tackle questions of “how do we use these best? how do we innovate? what’s the next big thing?” From Pinterest to Tumblr to Snapchat and beyond, some of the most popular social media network among teens and young adults don’t focus on text, but rather images and videos. We’ll share examples of successful climate- and science-focused Tumblr blogs, and talk about content that’s ideal for sharing on this or other image-rich blog networks. We’ll ask, what else is missing from current communication venues, or could/will be done better? As new tools are pulled into the climate conversation, we’ll meet new opportunities and pitfalls, and we’ll need to be prepared.

Lessons from the Other Side (Session 6C)
moderated by Rachel Potter
The science is settled on climate change, but public opinion is not. According to the latest Global Warming’s Six Americas research (September 2012), some 60% of the population is cautious, doubtful, disengaged or dismissive of the issue. Which of this people should we try and engage, and how do we bring them into the conversation? There are many potential answers to these questions, but this session will focus on opponents of climate action, who have seemingly had some remarkable success in sowing seeds of doubt on this issue. How exactly have they done this? What tools and methods have they used? Can social science offer us any guidance? Finally, and most importantly, how can we learn from them?

Talking climate science, talking climate policy (Session 1A)
moderated by Josh Rosenau
Danger lurks when scientists talk about policy. When scientists endorse a particular policy to address the climate change-related problems they study, audiences can question the integrity of their science (as discussed here: But laying out the dangers of climate change without presenting a solution can leave audiences feeling powerless, and makes the science seem powerless, too. How can scientists and science communicators ethically bring their expertise to bear on policy questions, without compromising the integrity or independence of the science they publish and present? Are scientists ethically obliged to share what their research says about policy, or are they ethically bound to steer clear of policy debates when they talk science?

The Role Of Online Communication and the Sharing Economy In Climate-Resilient Communities (Session 4B)
moderated by Chris Somers
Some of the most active climate mitigation and adaptation is taking place at the city  scale. Working at this level, the possible effects of climate change feel local, concrete, and urgent – especially when they overlap with resource use, emergency response, and rebuilding in the wake of natural disasters. This provides an opportunity for local citizens to pursue novel mitigative and adaptive responses. Web-based communities and activities, such as Freecycle, AirBnB and maker spaces, help share resources and reduce consumption.  Are there additional lessons and innovative tools that we can apply to larger-scale climate engagement and response efforts? Finally, what is the role of online communication in mobilizing communities to make long-term adaptation decisions?

Understandings of Uncertainty in a Changing World (Session 5A)
moderated by Chris Terai
Uncertainty is commonly used amongst scientists when talking about scientific findings and issues. On the other hand, uncertainty also carries with it connotations of unknowing, insecurity, and anxiety and has been used to attack the validity of the science. With climate science, there will always be uncertainties, whether associated with our understanding of the Earth system or with how humans will be affected and how we will adapt or react to climate change in the coming future. How can one bring uncertainty into the conversation as a reason for action (and not inaction)? What are effective ways to have conversations and make decisions on climate change in an online setting where conversations are flatter and science more open?

When Change is Hard: Networks of Strong and Weak Ties (Session 3B)
moderated by David Rabkin
Substantially changing how our economies produce and use energy, land, water, and other resources will be extremely difficult. The vast scale of these challenges means that individual action is not enough; we must activate and work within large networks of people, which raises an entirely new set of problems. Instead of being able to rely on strong ties between people who know and trust each other, we must instead leverage weak ties among loosely connected strangers. Can it be enough? How do we combat ‘slactivism’? What can we pull from social network analysis to help us tackle these problems? How can online communication and engagement tools be best used to support groups as they make hard decisions and then follow through on them?

Workshop – Social Media 101 (Session 1W)
Workshop leader: Jessica Morrison

“OK, you convinced me about the power of social media–now, what do I DO?” Designed for those who are new to using social media, not quite sure where to begin but ready to get your feet wet, this hands-on workshop will introduce you to the basic features and uses for the biggest platforms in social media – Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Google+, and more. The second half of the workshop will walk you through setting up a Twitter account, teaching you the basics, showing you the etiquette, and getting you started. Not only will this help you understand some of the emerging spaces in the climate communication realm, but it will also help you get the most out of your time at ScienceOnline Climate meeting.
Participants leave with: A twitter account and lists of people to follow, basic terminology and best practices in tweeting

Workshop – Science Scribe Climate: Preaching Beyond The Polar Bear (Session 2W)
Workshop leader: Perrin Ireland

The polar bear and the glacier have been, besides clouds, the only memorable climate icons used to augment discussions of climate. It’s time to conjure up some new, accessible imagery that will invite audiences to engage with climate communication. This #sciencescribe workshop will be a group rethink of the visual components of climate messaging and a boot camp for developing visual skills and using them to illuminate climate communication efforts. The workshop will arm participants with basic tools to enhance their visual storytelling abilities, but will also be a collective brainstorming session on how we can visually redefine the climate issue. How is climate’s visual inaccessibility a hindrance to public understanding of climate, and audience interest in engaging with climate? We will cover basic shapes, fonts, spacing and layout, and quick shortcuts for drawing characters. We will review current examples of visual representations of climate science and discuss their efficacy, learn techniques and practices for creating Science Scribe sketchnotes, and have a group visual brainstorming session for new icons, images, and ideas on #sciscribeclimate. Come armed with a notebook and pens, and leave with a new set of skills and confidence for visualizing science.
Participants leave with: The basic tools needed for scribing science conversations; a new, collective vocabulary for communicating visually about climate. We encourage those visually-inclined and those who don’t think they can draw worth a lick to join us.

Workshop – Working With Science Data From Around The Web (Session 3W)
Workshop Leader: Scott Chamberlain

Data is widely available, and often free, on the web. How can you get your hands on all that data? This workshop will run through examples of how to search for and download scientific data from the web (including climate data, taxonomy data, and species occurrence records) in the (open source) R programming environment. Time permitting, we can run through sharing code and results with the public and colleagues, and even how to write your own R package (surprisingly easy) – a great way to organize a set of tasks in R that do similar things. We anticipate that this will likely flow over into mini-sessions over meals and into the evenings to explore related skillsets, such as data visualization.
Participants leave with: Skills to search for and retrieve a variety of data, and share code and results.

Workshop – The Incoming Flood: Information Management Strategies (Session 5W)
workshop leader: Todd Reubold

We tend to think of social media management strategies largely in the context of pushing out information, but managing relationships and information – specifically listening to the ongoing conversation – is essential. How do you make time for dedicated reading? Where do you save files and links? How can you optimize your workflow to make sure you are on top of whatever information sources are important to you? This session will draw from the lists of sources provided by the Taxonomy of Climate Media breakout and will provide a framework for digital information management, and that the participants collaborate on populating the reading lists, essential sources, etc.
Participants leave with: Updated personal feeds and filters – Twitter list(s), RSS feeds, IFTTT recipes, etc.

Workshop – Getting On The Agenda: The Relationship Between News, Lobbying, And Policy (Session 6W)
Workshop leader: Danny Richter

Social media is a powerful tool due to its ability to bring together disparate groups, amplify voices, and get the attention of mainstream media. But social media alone is usually insufficient to achieve political change. In this session, we’ll capitalize on our location in DC to invite lobbying organizations (nonprofits?), policymakers, and others to explain what policymakers are paying attention to, and how citizens can make themselves heard.
Participants leave with: Knowledge about how the system currently works, details on your own individual representatives, suggestions on how to achieve your specific goals.

2 thoughts on “THE PROGRAM

  1. Avatar of Les JohnsonLes Johnson

    Communicate better? Well, you might want to do better than this:

    The sector of the public which is most engaged on climate science is extraordinarily suspicious of the scientific community. How did this happen? What opportunities and models are there for repair? How can supporters of legitimate climate science do a better job in reaching out to the intellectually honest segment of the doubters? Are there lessons and tactics to be learned from the success climate deniers have in getting their messages out, can we learn from how they use the web to do it? What practices could we utilize?

    Let me try to answer the last question. Don’t call them supporters of illegitimate science, intellectually dishonest, or a climate denier.

    Once you get past the grade school name calling, we can work on other, more advanced techniques for effective communication.


    1. Avatar of Jamie VernonJamie Vernon

      Les, thanks for the comment. You make a good point. Use of the word “denier” may undermine the effort to find common ground with good intentioned folks who have concerns about the science. We have planned several sessions where we invite individuals who traditionally find themselves at odds with the science to express their opinions. We welcome your registration and participation.

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