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Can Dr. Richard Alley Convince Skeptics of Climate Change? Can Dr. Richard Alley Convince Skeptics of Climate Change?
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Can Dr. Richard Alley Convince Skeptics of Climate Change?

by Ben Jervey

April 9, 2011

Of all the scientists out there trying to communicate the realities of climate change to the public, I'd rank Dr. Richard Alley in the top three. Unlike many others, he succeeds at making the science accessible. So I was excited to learn that he's the star of a new one-hour PBS special about climate change, Earth: The Operators' Manual.

Here's the show's trailer:

Like Carbon Nation, this show will feature characters that speak directly to America's right—the military hawks, the Church-goers, the Texas ranchers. Moreover, Alley himself doesn't fit the mold of the liberal, pointy-headed scientist so easily dismissed by skeptics. "I'm a registered Republican," he says. "I play soccer on Saturdays, and go to church on Sundays." And he's sensitive to people's near-term practical concerns: "I'm a parent and a professor. I worry about jobs for my students, and my daughter's future." All this means he might be one of the best possible spokespeople for climate science.

There are lots and lots of people out there who have registered an "ah, now I get it" moment while watching Alley talk about climate change. Hopefully there will be more of them after Earth: The Operators' Manual airs. With public concern about climate and energy waning, we need someone who can explain the science in a way that's both clear and informative and politically neutral.

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