Thursday, January 2, 2014

The Dake Page Revival


The Dake Page is undergoing a revival in 2014. For a variety of reasons the page didn't receive very many updates in 2013 and focused primarily on reporting of news. As this year unfolds expect to see more emphasis on analysis of key scientific issues, reviews of relevant books, and discussions on how to improve the communication of science between scientists, policymakers, and the public.

That last point is critical. Too often scientists try to talk to the public as if they were talking to their fellow scientists at scientific meetings, only slower. Saying things like "Anthropogenic Climate Change, or AGW, has resulted in a 0.8°C increase in the global average surface temperature...zzzzzz..." really isn't very helpful to the general public looking out their window and seeing the New Year's day snowfall. Especially when there are people out there getting paid to confuse the public. Likewise, to have a policymaker, e.g., a U.S. Senator or Representative, suggest that utter falsehoods created by a British tabloid writer associated with a "think tank" are somehow "science" is doing a disservice to the public.

Two areas along the nexus of science and policy will get special attention because they represent critical scientific issues that need immediate response.

One is man-made climate change. We are warming our planet. This is certain. We know what needs to be done to address this problem. We'll take a look at what we know and how to get beyond the man-made roadblocks to dealing with this critical issue.

The other is modernization of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). We currently have agreement from all parties, all stakeholders, and the public that the law that is supposed to ensure "protection of human health and the environment" needs to be updated. We have a proposed bill on the table. It isn't perfect. We'll discuss why it could pass anyway, and perhaps why it should.

There will be other topics as well, but these two will be the primary focus, along with their corollaries. Expect some unexpected connections as well.

So for those who have loyally followed The Dake Page for the last 7 years, thank you and welcome to the rejuvenation. For those just discovering the site, welcome. I hope we all can learn something about how how scientists and policy interact, and how both can better communicate with the public.