My VWN Keynote on Science and Journalism


Just over a week ago I gave a keynote lecture to the VWN – de Vereniging voor Wetenschapsjournalistiek en -communicatie, the Dutch Association of Science Journalists.

My talk told the story of some of my experiences over about 20 years working on the subject of disasters and climate change. Over that time, in collaboration with academics around the world, I amassed a pretty swanky academic record, at least according to the sorts of metrics that universities like to tout.

But also over that time my work attracted many critics who did not like what the research showed — in particular, the challenges that peer-reviewed research and the conclusions of the IPCC posed to linking rising disaster costs to human-caused climate change. In particular, more than a few journalists/activists (in collaboration with a few scientists) took it upon themselves to delegitimize my work and work to drive me from participation in the public debate. Ultimately, with the help of politicians like John Holdren and Rep. Raul Grijalva, they succeeded.

I have moved on from research and commentary on climate issues (except for the occasional 140 character Twitter utterance). I am completely happy with the change of topic, as it is good for the scholar and the soul to take on fresh challenges. Nonetheless, the story of my experiences might be of interest to others, from aspiring public scientists to journalists looking to administer hit-jobs on those they don’t welcome in the public space.

Here is the talk in PDF. Feel free to ask any questions in the comments.

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