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.

8 thoughts on “My VWN Keynote on Science and Journalism

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  1. Hi Roger, I am saddened to read your above article. I’m just a retired lady from Australia and have had an interest in the weather for many years, but one thing I insisted that my sons always research by pros and cons for everything before they made a decision on what they believed, but also said that their beliefs could change as they matured. I did not want them to follow what we as parents thought or believed, but to make their own decisions.
    Why is everybody that may have an alternative view always get ridiculed, made to sound like a crazy radical and never even listened to, there has to be a reason.
    My layman’s view is that the climate has always changed and always will, even if man were not on this earth. We are probably doing a lot of things wrong, like deforestation, building so many concrete high rise buildings with no green space, thousands flying around the world to attend these ‘Climate Change’ conferences – surely if they really believed they would do this by video conference. ‘They’ have to have a reason for this, but I do not believe it is climate change.
    There are many learned people who believe historical weather data has been ‘homogenized’ to suit expected/wanted outcomes. We have a Scientist in Australia Jennifer Marohasy who has at least been listened to by some of our politicians, will post a link to her article.


  2. Thank you for sharing and providing a breath of fresh air through your work. It is appreciated. We certainly need it in the ever growing world of disinformation on climate and extreme weather that we all face.

    Regards Ed


  3. Roger,
    It is good that you took the time to put this all together in a single presentation. When one gets past blinking disbelief of all the blatant mendacity, it becomes clear that disagreement about global warming has little to do with ‘the science’ and everything to do with ‘the politics’. It is, and has always been, a fundamental disagreement about values, priorities, and goals….. and how some try to impose their values, priorities, and goals on everyone else, by whatever means available. I think history will judge this sorry episode, and many involved in it, very harshly.


  4. Thank you, Roger, for all the work you have done on the climate change/disaster issue, and for all the heat you’ve taken for it. I have known you and followed your work for almost ten years, after relocating to CU Boulder from New Orleans, after Hurricane Katrina. One reason my family and I left was the dire warning that anthropogenic global warming (AGC) would cause many future Katrina-scale hurricanes in the Gulf of Mexico. In fact, there has been a long hurricane “drought” in the Gulf. As an environmental philosopher, I decided in 2007 to become more knowledgeable about the science of what was then called “global warming.” After months of intensive research, I began to have a sinking feeling. Could environmentalists have gone overboard once again, this time with predictions about anthropogenic global warming? Could scientists have been politicized, such that they “oversold” their findings in hopes of prompting political action? Roger, your remarkable blog and your careful research proved invaluable for cooler heads trying to make sense of “scenarios” about the future a century from now. You have always maintained that C02 is a greenhouse gas and that we should de-carbonize our economy, but you have also recognized the enormous obstacles standing in the way of such a move, including Green opposition to nuclear power. I wish you all the best in your new endeavor at CU Boulder, which should be proud to count you among its stellar faculty.


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