The ‘New AGU’ … Talking Up Its Policy Backbone

AGU leadership professes its willingness to head-up an aggressive public policy and ‘education’ campaign directed at congressional skeptics.

SAN FRANCISCO, Dec. 3, 2012 — The “new AGU.”

The term arose from a questioner in the audience. A Rutgers University scientist was responding to comments by Chris McEntee, AGU executive director.

McEntee had spoken formally during her presentation about having AGU lead an effort involving major scientific societies in “educating” Congress on what unquestionably is an overwhelming consensus among climate scientists on a full range of issues. AGU earlier had led the groups in bringing leading society officials to Washington on climate change issues, but the new effort seems destined to go beyond that in intensity and duration, including strategic targeting of specific legislators.

“It’s not something the old AGU would do,” Rutgers’ Alan Robock said from the floor, but McEntee’s statements received overwhelmingly favorable reaction from those in attendance.

Having and showing a stiff backbone can pose daunting challenges for membership organizations such as AGU. Whether the group has the spine to withstand the heat in the kitchen will be well worth watching in coming months.

One question worth considering: If not AGU … then who? The only other conceivable entity potentially having the chops (resources and leadership potential) might be AAAS. For now, AGU has, says it wants, and can shoulder the burden. Lots of climate scientists hope that’s so, but few are suggesting it will be a smooth and easy road.

Bud Ward

Bud Ward is editor of Yale Climate Connections. (E-mail:
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5 Responses to The ‘New AGU’ … Talking Up Its Policy Backbone

  1. Willis Eschenbach says:

    Man, I’ve heard some dumb ideas in my time, but this one takes the prize. Sure, boys and girls, turn the AGU into a lobbying organization. Because everyone trusts lobbyists and knows that they are independent, high minded people who are scrupulous about telling the truth.

    And because lobbyists are so well liked and have such a sterling reputation for honesty, transparency, and independence, there won’t be any hit to the authority or independence of the AGU. It won’t make any difference when folks say “AGU? That’s the organization of lobbyists, right?”.

    Are there any adults left in the AGU? If so, could you talk some sense into these folks? There is already a big problem with the public trust in science, particularly climate science. This will only make things worse.

    We do not need more and better climate science communication.

    We need more and better climate science … because far too often, what passes for science in the climate world is nothing of the sort.