Wednesday, October 26 at 4 p.m.
Boyd Science Center, Room 001
Environmental Science Colloquium with Dr. Lisa Doner, Environmental Science and Policy Department and Center for the Environment, Plymouth State University.
As resident scientists for most news stations and news programs, broadcast meteorologists both interpret and explain a broad spectrum of science stories, but rarely any related to climate change. Our study investigated possible reasons for this reticence, including: 1) a survey of climate literacy in students enrolled in 11, four-year, U.S. undergraduate meteorology degree programs; 2) a review of course offerings at 80 U.S. universities that offer undergraduate degrees in meteorology or a closely-related field; and 3) an assessment of climate change content in popular introductory textbooks. The study found significant deficiencies in core climate literacy, including topics highly applicable to atmospheric science fields, such as aerosols, atmospheric chemistry, the hydrologic cycle, and predictive modeling. Although 89% of the surveyed academic programs offer classes on climate, only 75% require them, and less than 15% of these are specific to climate change. Just 5% of these programs require coursework in geography, geology, or other disciplines that offer climate science content. In addition, while seven of eight introductory meteorology textbooks include a chapter on climate change, in every instance these chapters are at the end of the textbook and commonly fail to integrate climate change with coverage of other atmospheric science topics. Improved training in climate science might empower broadcast meteorologists, in particular, to be more engaged in climate change communication to the public.
Lisa Doner holds PhD, MS, and BS degrees in geological sciences, as well as a BS in Ecology. All her research has focused on aspects of climate change and the environment. The work being presented here is the result of a three-year effort in collaboration with Bentley University and PSU's meteorology faculty to understand the factors that influence climate change communication by meteorologists.