When scientists speak up on climate change
Prof. Naomi Oreskes says that scientists are often reluctant to speak in public on contested issues, for fear that this will “politicize” their science and have a negative impact on their credibility. Herself an outspoken scientist on climate change she explored historical examples of scientists who have spoken up on issues of broad importance, including nuclear weaponry, ozone depletion and climate change. In this talk she addresses issues of professional risk versus a population’s need and right to know. Is there such a thing as an obligation to speak on issues that might not be understood or even recognized; and what may be the limits of what a scientist can accomplish.
Naomi Oreskes is Professor of the History of Science and Affiliated Professor, Earth and Planetary Sciences at Harvard University. Her 2010 book, Merchants of Doubt, How a Handful of Scientists Obscured the Truth on Issues from Tobacco to Global warming, co-authored with Erik M. Conway, received the 2011 Prize from the History of Science Society. Her most recent book, The Collapse of Western Civilization, was published in 2014.
Recorded at Harvard University, March 29, 2017