May 1, 2018
I have recently been participating in more local climate activism, including two climate teach ins and a climate hackathon. It's been very inspiring to see so many people who are not climate scientists but who care a lot about climate change. However, it has made me realize how big of a gap we have between scientists and the general public. One of the best examples is that 58% of Miami-Dade residents are living below the poverty line. Educating them about hurricane preparation isn't that helpful if they can't afford to buy a few days worth of food or to evacuate. How do we help those people? And a hurricane is a short, one time event, arguably easier to deal with than climate change. How do we help them deal with long term sea level rise, climate gentrification, sunny day flooding? This is what keeps me up at night...<\p>
Communication with the public
I find it interesting that when we discuss scientists communicating with the public, it is rarely framed in the way of "what can science take from *the public* in order to better communicate?" Not just to the public, but to each other as well. Take for example, emojis. A form of communication that you would never use in a formal scientific presentation, and probably wouldn't use much even in a conversation with the public. And yet.... I truly I would be more effective at reading papers if Mendeley let me insert emojis into my comments. I can remember specific moments of reading papers when I rolled my eyes at an assumption, or laughed at interesting vocabulary choice. And I remember those moments. When I am looking back at the paper, I'm frequently like "shit, where was that section where I rolled my eyes?" We (even scientists) remember emotion. I am much more likely to remember something if I can connect it to a specific emotion: disagreement, disbelief, amazement, the emotion itself doesn't matter. So for now I will continue to advocate for emojis in Mendeley, and maybe even at conferences.
On blogging as a concept, or my meta-blogging
I've never been much of a blog person. I think it takes a certain amount of arrogance to believe that your opinion is important enough to justify blogging on any particular topic. However, I am making a committment to write more and writing by hand was giving me wrist pain so here I am typing up a blog post! This will probably not be so focused on science, but rather on my feelings and experiences of research and oceanography. And maybe, just maybe, 2 years of PhD research has given me the arrogance to think this is a good idea.