Duke’s Nicholas School Dean Bill Chameides; From Academia to EDF Activism and Back

DURHAM, N.C. – When it comes to climate communication, many scientists have a “love-hate” relationship with the media.

That’s the assessment of Bill Chameides, dean of the Nicholas School of the Environment at Duke University. Before his appointment at the Nicholas School, Chameides worked for three years – from 2005 through 2007 – as the chief scientist of Environmental Defense Fund. Previously, he had ┬áspent 25 years at the Georgia Institute of Technology, where he served as chair of the atmospheric-sciences department from 1998 to 2005. He was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 1998.

Chameides spoke recently from his campus office about how both journalists and scientists can do a better job of educating the public about climate science.

He said that too-frequent reporting plagued by errors has persuaded many scientists, particularly those who work on climate change, to take a direct approach to climate communication, bypassing media gate-keepers in some cases.

“We scientists need to go directly to the public with our own media and bypass the traditional media,” he said.

Chameides also spoke about the role that scientists play when they become advocates, as he did when he became an EDF employee, and about how the Nicholas School is training future scientists to work with reporters.

Watch the interview below.

Sara Peach

Sara Peach, an environmental journalist, teaches environmental journalism at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She is a regular contributor to Yale Climate Connections. (E-mail: sara@yaleclimateconnections.org, Twitter: @sarapeach)
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