Naomi Oreskes: The Scientist as Sentinel (TWO of TWO)

When scientists speak up on climate change
This is the conclusion of Prof. Naomi Oreskes talk about the relationship between science and politics in the age of climate change denial. Most scientists today express a great deal of reluctance to take on any role beyond simply presenting factual information. And those who do, often speak up only after having been attacked.

Naomi Oreskes is Professor of the History of Science and Affiliated Professor, Earth and Planetary Sciences at Harvard University. As historian Oreskes showed that in the past scientists did not lose their standing after going public – and she used nuclear scientists who spoke out in favor of disarmament as example. And she said there is a need to speak up because: “facts don’t speak for themselves” and society needs scientists to speak up to alert the public to challenges that, without their research and expertise, we would not understand and might not even recognize.

Naomi Oreskes holds a special place in climate studies. As academic she has been highly influential for over a decade. Her 2004 essay “The Scientific Consensus on Climate Change” has been widely cited, both in the United States and abroad. That includes the Royal Society’s publication, “A Guide to Facts and Fictions about Climate Change.” Recently she was a contributor to Pope Francis encyclical on climate change Laudato Si.

In popular culture and media her work became part of the Academy-award winning film, An Inconvenient Truth, and in Ian McEwan’s novel, Solar.
She spoke on March 29, 2017, at Harvard.

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