Q&A with UCS President Kevin Knobloch On Climate Science, Policy, Communications


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UCS President
Kevin Knobloch

CAMBRIDGE, MASS. – After eight years of battling the Bush administration to preserve the integrity of science and inform public policy on environmental and nuclear issues, Union of Concerned Scientists President Kevin Knobloch is not taking a rest. Instead, he’s amplifying efforts to communicate about climate change action, especially in the upcoming legislative effort.

Lisa Palmer caught up with Knobloch at UCS headquarters recently for The Yale Forum to talk about climate, the economy, and getting scientists to understand the media.

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EPA Ann Arbor Vehicle Emissions Lab Offers Reporters Fertile Ground for Stories

ANN ARBOR, MI. – A room full of sparkling new silver diesel engines, a car running automatically on its own treadmill, a mammoth truck with its insides displaying a new kind of fuel efficient technology.

These are just a few of the items you’ll find in an unassuming, sprawling government building. With the cumbersome title National Vehicle and Fuel Emissions Laboratory, this building in Ann Arbor, Michigan, is part of the Environmental Protection Agency, and like many government buildings, it appears at first glance to be dull and unexceptional. But under its roof, you can discover some of the nation’s most important measures – and treasures – in the effort to address climate change.

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Notable … and Quotable

Encounter a catchy or “keeper” quotation about climate change and climate change communications over the preceding few weeks? Let us know, and we’ll include it in this new feature we call ‘Notable … and Quotable.’

The quotes have to be on-point, concise, meaty, self-standing … and not so overtly partisan that they would demand clarification, elaboration, or further context. Here are a few examples that we think meet these standards. Do you know the source of the individual quotations, and can you link the quotations with those responsible for the specific quotation?

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Keeping Tabs on Obama’s Climate Push As House Moves Forward with Legislation

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With President Obama and key congressional leaders seeking passage this year of global warming legislation, journalists have a great opportunity to explain the complexities of the issue to their readers.

But reporters must be careful too, as climate policy doesn’t fit neatly into a simple storyline of he said/she said. My editor likes to say that the climate debate is just as contentious as the issues facing the Middle East. Indeed, this is a debate filled with nuance, with more than two sides vying for coverage.

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Geoengineering – Climate Cure? Or a Cure Worse than the Warming Illness?*

 (Editor’s Note:  This piece was slightly edited on May 6, 2009, to correct the reference to the author of the MIT Knight Science Journalism Tracker posting.) 

Geoengineering – intentionally manipulating the climate to counteract the unplanned manipulation of manmade warming – has always been a controversial idea.

Sometimes called climate engineering, it includes concepts for reducing sunlight, like shooting sulfur particles into the atmosphere and creating seawater sprays. Other methods, like seeding oceans with iron and erecting structures called “artificial trees,” would aim at removing carbon from the air.

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Reporter Revkin’s ‘Worst Misstep’: Aftermath of a Climate Reporting Gaffe*

(*Editor’s Note: This piece was lightly edited on May 7 to reflect a correction in a quotation to the original Revkin article pointed out by a reader.) 

Veteran New York Times science writer Andy Revkin calls it “my worst misstep as a journalist in 26 years.”

A vocal and prolific British climate contrarian is less charitable. “Deliberate misrepresentation,” said Christopher Monckton (“Viscount Monckton of Brenchley”) in complaining that Revkin, in an April 24 front-page article, “offends grievously” the newspaper’s journalism ethics guidelines.

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Learning from the Difficult Lessons of Real-World Regional Cap-and-Trade

It’s known as “Reggie” for short. And though it may be small, it’s said to be paving the way for something huge: a federal cap-and-trade program for greenhouse gas emissions.

The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), the country’s first public sector experiment with auctioning carbon permits, is up and running. It is consistently cited as a good “first step” – an example of how green ideals and good old American capitalism can work in harmony.

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