Framing Science from Rome, Italy: Climate Change Communication in Urban Environments

I am in Italy until Wednesday of next week participating in an expert workshop on the scientific and societal dimensions of climate change. Organized by the Earth Institute's Urban Design Lab at Columbia University and the Adriano Olivetti Foundation, the workshop will turn into an edited volume released as part of the Ecopolis conference to be held in Rome in April, 2009.

The workshop features experts analyzing almost every major dimension of climate change. I am on a panel that kicks the workshop off by focusing on "Politics, Public Opinion, and Communication." Here are the questions that were posed to me in advance and that I will eventually be crafting a paper around:

What we are hoping that you can explore is the public communication side of the climate-change phenomenon; and its role in adaptation strategies. This of course begs the question as to whether or not public opinion is important at all, and if the growing immediacy of the problem will require a more drastic approach rather than normative "consensus-building." In other words, are we at a different kind of communication crossroads, in comparison to smoking bans, stem cell ethics, and other recent science policy debates? In this regard, because our focus is on the "urban," would you see important distinctions between urban and other contexts? Is there something different about this kind of science? And if, indeed, this kind of science is producing public consensus - as your work seems to indicate, what is lacking on the public side of the equation? In this regard could we get into the power politics side? And in what capacity do you see the formation of global capital as a cause or effect in terms of unified strategies for climate change communication? On a big hypothetical, if all were to be a "go" in terms of mitigation and adaptation, with huge global resources at the ready, where might it best be deployed - or better stated, where are the huge gaps in knowledge and technique?

Car culture and suburban sprawl create rifts in society, claims study

New research links urban planning and political polarization.

Politics & Current Affairs
  • Canadian researchers find that excessive reliance on cars changes political views.
  • Decades of car-centric urban planning normalized unsustainable lifestyles.
  • People who prefer personal comfort elect politicians who represent such views.
Keep reading Show less

How to split the USA into two countries: Red and Blue

Progressive America would be half as big, but twice as populated as its conservative twin.

Image: Dicken Schrader
Strange Maps
  • America's two political tribes have consolidated into 'red' and 'blue' nations, with seemingly irreconcilable differences.
  • Perhaps the best way to stop the infighting is to go for a divorce and give the two nations a country each
  • Based on the UN's partition plan for Israel/Palestine, this proposal provides territorial contiguity and sea access to both 'red' and 'blue' America
Keep reading Show less

NASA astronomer Michelle Thaller on ​the multiple dimensions of space and human sexuality

Science and the squishiness of the human mind. The joys of wearing whatever the hell you want, and so much more.

Flickr / 13winds
Think Again Podcasts
  • Why can't we have a human-sized cat tree?
  • What would happen if you got a spoonful of a neutron star?
  • Why do we insist on dividing our wonderfully complex selves into boring little boxes
Keep reading Show less