The ad campaign hints darkly that “what happens in Las Vegas, stays in Las Vegas.”
But they don’t say that about Vermont goings-on.
And they shouldn’t, certainly not when it comes to the innovative climate communications work of independent and unaffiliated atmospheric scientist and researcher Alan K. Betts, of Pittsford.
A frequent speaker around the state, an analyst for Vermont Public Radio, and a regular newspaper columnist for the Sunday environment page of the Rutland Herald and the Barre-Montpelier Times-Argus over the past three years, the one-time atmospheric science prof at Colorado State University is author or co-author of more than 140 reviewed papers. Funded for the past three decades as an independent climate scientist, primarily through the National Science Foundation, Betts from 2005 to 2007 was president of the Vermont Academy of Science & Engineering, and he is a Fellow of the American Meteorological Society (AMS), the American Geophysical Union (AGU), the Royal Meteorological Society, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
Characterizing climate change as “one of the many great challenges humanity faces this century,” the soft-spoken and low-key Betts maintains on his newly posted web page alanbetts.com that “growing global population, growing fossil fuel use and growing consumption all put stresses on the Earth’s resources, environment and ecosystem.”
He writes that “We may have already passed the carrying capacity of the planet — at a reasonable and equitable distribution of material resources. The growth path we have been following, powered by fossil fuel, is unsustainable. So we need to start the great transition to a more efficient society powered by renewable sources of energy.”
Among Betts’ more interesting and unusual climate change outreach efforts is his regularly writing a weekly column for the two newspapers explaining in lay English terminology important principles of climate science. His new web site contains all of his columns.
He offers visitor to his web page advice on how to check-out his own standing and credibility as a “trustworthy guide” on climate change, starting with a suggestion that they check out ak betts at googlescholar.com.
Responding in his column to a recent challenge from a skeptical reader, Betts took his gloves off, declining to “take sides within his fantasy world, where scientists are conspiring to create anthropogenic climate change!”
“Just a new verison of ‘If you don’t like the news, find a way to shoot the messenger(s),'” he replied, pointing to his 30 years of NSF and NASA funding through four Democratic and five Republican administrations.
Among Betts’s current communications priorities: Localizing climate science in a responsible way to his Vermont audience. On that subject, he points to the importance of addressing climate science in ways accessible to audiences concerned about their own back yards … yet doing so in ways loyal to the most vigorous scientific principles.