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Statisticians Participate in 2nd Annual Climate Science Day

1 April 2012 1,087 views No Comment
From left: Peter Craigmile, Peter Guttorp, Sen. Maria Cantwell, Christopher Gambino, and Kasey White

From left: Peter Craigmile, Peter Guttorp, Sen. Maria Cantwell, Christopher Gambino, and Kasey White

Five ASA members participated in the second annual Climate Science Day (CSD) on Capitol Hill February 1. Co-organized by the ASA and jointly sponsored by the ASA and other professional societies, the event’s primary purpose is for scientists to develop relationships with congressional staff so they will consult the scientists on climate-related questions.

Speaking to the goal of these visits, Peter Craigmile of The Ohio State University and Leonard Smith of the London School of Economics and Pembroke College, Oxford, the two ASA members who participated in the first CSD, noted how much better meetings went with staffers with whom they’d met last year. “It was interesting how substantive our meetings were with the four staffers we met last year; everyone was more comfortable, more relaxed,” said Smith. “I find real value in revisits and look forward to CSD 2013.”

Craigmile added, “Visiting an office for the second time allowed us to build upon the themes that we discussed in the first Climate Science Day. The Members of Congress and staffers we met were receptive and interested in thinking about the local impacts of climate change.”

Michelle Bell of Yale University commented, “CSD seemed a great approach to help provide scientific information, without prescribing a specific policy. I appreciated that this event focused just on the facts, and was not agenda‐driven or political. Our goal was to relay science, not ask for certain policies or for funding. I also liked the range of scientific disciplines.”

Peter Guttorp, chair of the ASA Advisory Committee for Climate Change Policy (ACCCP), commented on how the tenor of the meetings changed once staffers realized the scientists weren’t coming in with a policy agenda. He added, “I was paired with a scientist specializing in livestock manure management, and with my work on estimating global temperature, we almost always could present an angle that interested the staffer.”

Amy Braverman, participating as a member of ACCCP, said “It was an unusual opportunity to be in touch with the national decisionmaking process and to highlight the role that statistics can play.”

Twenty-nine scientists from 12 science societies or organizations—including the American Association for the Advancement of Science, American Geophysical Union, American Meteorological Society, American Society of Agronomy, and National Ecological Observatory Network—participated. They were paired by geography into 14 teams accompanied by professional society staff for 100 meetings with members of Congress and/or their staff.

During the afternoon of preparatory briefings prior to the day of visits on the Hill, participants were told that the meetings were more about establishing a relationship than delivering messages. As part of the preparation, the participants heard from a bipartisan panel of House and Senate staffers and a climate science communications expert. Professional society staff—including Steve Pierson, the ASA’s director of science policy—also spoke to the participants about messaging/objectives, tips for successful meetings, and the current Congress.

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