To deny the deniers, champion the cause of science — Christopher Knittel

MIT Sloan Prof. Christopher Knittel

From WBUR Cognoscenti

When a group of students recently met with me about getting MIT to divest from fossil fuels, I suggested a more effective approach: If they really want to mitigate climate change, I suggested, start by calling out politicians and others who continue to deny the scientific consensus about climate change and its causes. And as I thought about the need to hold people accountable for the consequences of their science denial, I realized that institutions such as my own — not just our students — also need to get off the sidelines. We need to do a better job of defending and championing scientific truth.

And we cannot wait. The title for a Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works that opened on July 18 gets it right:“Climate Change: It’s Happening Now.” But so, too, is denial, and not just of the manmade causes of climate change.

In our classes and otherwise, professors often note that science deniers are out there. But we don’t acknowledge how pervasive they have become beyond our ivory towers. We take for granted how much people actually understand and that it takes time to expand awareness of science, especially when you’re up against the easy soundbites and well-packaged disinformation that fills the Web. Indeed, even some of my own Facebook friends believe that climate change is still an open question.

Read the full post at WBUR Cognoscenti.

Christopher Knittel is the William Barton Rogers Professor of Energy Economics in the Sloan School of Management and the Co-Director of the Center for Energy and Environmental Policy Research at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

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