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Aaron Huertas

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About the author: Aaron Huertas is a science communications officer at UCS with expertise in helping scientists represent their work to the media and the public. He conducts workshops for scientists and other technical experts and has previously worked at the National Air and Space Museum and for Congressman Jim Saxton (R-NJ). See Aaron’s full bio.

How to Prepare for Sea Level Rise: Follow New Hampshire’s Lead

New Hampshire has the nation’s shortest coastline, at less than 20 miles, but don’t let that statistic fool you: when scientists count its bays, tidal rivers, and salt marshes, they tally more than 230 miles of so-called inland tidal shoreline. These areas are vitally important for New Hampshire’s economy, especially when it comes to tourism and shipping. They’re also vulnerable to coastal flooding, which is why the state is using the best available science to plan for the future, including rising seas. Read More

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Esquire Falls into the Despondency Trap—We’re Not “F’d” on Climate Change

John H. Richardson has published a despairing profile of climate researchers in Esquire, where he examines the existential dread they sometimes feel as they study the effects of industrial carbon burning. In particular, he focuses on Jason Box, a climate researcher whose blunt Twitter message went viral last year: Read More

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Exxon Responds to Revelation that Company Recognized Climate Risks as Early as 1981

The Union of Concerned Scientists broke the news yesterday that Exxon employees were considering how climate change should factor into decisions about new fossil fuel extraction as early as 1981. The reactions, especially from ExxonMobil, have been as interesting as the original revelation. Read More

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What Does the Pope’s Climate Encyclical Mean?

Pope Francis released his much-anticipated encyclical on humans’ stewardship of our planet earlier today. While my colleagues and I spend most of our time talking about science and policy, the pope’s message has given us an opportunity to reflect on our own moral reasoning around climate and energy issues as well as the intersection of faith and science.

Update, June 23: My colleague Mike Jacobs, a senior energy analyst, added his thoughts in a separate post about Pope Francis’s plug for electric co-cops and other clean energy issues in the encyclical. Read More

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Jeb Bush on Climate Change: What Do We Really Want Politicians to Debate?

Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush (R) described the certainty of scientific knowledge on climate change as “convoluted” yesterday. Specifically, he said that it’s unclear “what percentage is man-made and what percentage is natural.”

He also claimed that people who say the science is “decided on” are “arrogant.” Read More

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CNN Just Went a Full Year without Debating the Reality of Climate Change

It’s been exactly a year since CNN hosted a misleading debate about established climate science. I hope it was the last one for the network and that CNN and other news outlets can move on to debates about how society is responding to climate risks. Read More

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Dear Humans: Industry is Causing Global Warming, Not Your Activities

Scientists and climate policy wonks usually say global warming is caused by “human activities.” This shorthand obscures an important point: while we humans are certainly responsible for climate change on some level, just a few of us – particularly in industry and government – are a lot more responsible than the rest of us.

After all, I like humans. I like activities, too. And it’s industry practices and government policies that largely determine how much heat-trapping emissions our human activities produce. Read More

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Book Review: How Culture Shapes the Climate Change Debate by Andrew Hoffman

A few years ago, my colleagues and I worked with Andrew Hoffman, the director of the Erb Institute for Global Sustainable Enterprise at the University of Michigan, to host a forum on increasing public understanding of climate change. The event sticks with me because the participants came from so many different backgrounds: environmental justice, Creation care, energy production, social science, media, climate science, and service in Congress.

Hoffman has condensed the myriad approaches to climate communication we discussed that day — and much more — into an indispensable guide. At a slim 100 pages, Hoffman’s book offers a fine distillation of the growing body of social science that explains our curious and conflicting approaches to climate issues. In addition to identifying the problematic ways we often approach climate change, he also suggests several potential ways forward that can restore the climate debate to what he calls a “more civilized plane.” Read More

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Can Republican Politicians Change Their Tune on Climate and Energy?

When former Texas Governor Rick Perry (R) ran for president in 2011, he flatly rejected climate science and even claimed that scientists had manipulated climate data. But last week, in response to a question about climate and energy issues at the Conservative Political Action Conference, he touted his environmental record, instead. Read More

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Willie Soon’s Failure to Disclose Industry Funding for Contrarian Climate Research is Another Reason to Support Transparency

My first job in science communication was as an “Explainer” in the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum. The program helps visitors – particularly students – understand the forces of flight. Our uniforms included red polo shirts that said “The Explainer Program” on the front and had the name of the company that sponsored the program – Cessna Aircraft – on the sleeve.

I recall this old uniform because the Smithsonian is under scrutiny for an entirely different type of sponsorship that was hidden from public view. Read More

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