Skeptical Science’s Founder John Cook: A Leader in Climate Change Communication

John Cook - Skeptical Science

When people don’t realize (or don’t believe) that 97% of scientists are in agreement that humans are causing climate change, they are less likely to support taking action.

It is crucial that misinformation campaigns funded by fossil fuel special interests are put in their place – their lies brought to rest. For too long they’ve instilled doubt and confusion in the public on the reality of climate change by spending millions of dollars to support false claims.

This is straight out of the playbook of big tobacco. For years they confused the public to protect their profits.

“We are more sure that greenhouse gas emissions are causing climate change than we are that smoking causes cancer.” – Kate Marvel, NASA

John Cook is working to change all of this.

He has worked diligently to clearly explain what scientists know about climate change to us non-scientists. Two of John’s most impressive pieces of work are an influential paper substantiating the 97% consensus claim and the Skeptical Science website.

Consensus Gap - Skeptical Science97% Consensus Paper: John was the lead author of an award-winning paper that analyzed the expert consensus on climate change by examining the nearly 12,000 peer-reviewed scientific papers from 1991-2011 that contained “global climate change” or “global warming”. The paper concluded that 97% of scientists agree that humans are causing global warming. It made huge waves and was even highlighted by Barack Obama and David Cameron. Not too shabby.

Skeptical Science is an award-winning and highly respected website that clearly explains the peer-reviewed scientific literature on climate change in an unbiased, straightforward way. Starting in 2007 with just John writing, it has now grown into a global site run by volunteers around the world. This site is fantastic – definitely check it out if you have any questions on the science of climate change.

I was fortunate enough to speak with John – he’s a gem! I found the following to be particularly powerful:

(To make the following more realistic, imagine an easy-going Australian accent for ‘JC’ and a somewhat star-struck ‘RH’ trying to play it cool)

RH: Why do you do what you do? What motivates you?

JC: People. Climate change is about people. Especially the people who have contributed the least to causing it. It’s not just an environmental issue, but a social justice issue.”

RH: Is there anything you’d like to tell readers directly?

JC: Breaking the climate silence is key to building social momentum. This will lead to political momentum, which in turn, will lead to larger climate action…Every action we do today, every little bit of progress now will help down the line.

This post originally featured in the Crowdsourcing Sustainability newsletter. Sign up for the newsletter below!

“Strikes the perfect balance between smart, understandable, funny, and compelling.” – Jackie

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