“Never say ‘Climategate.’ I mean, I just let that word come out of my mouth, it may be one of the first times I have ever said that word. I’ve been very distressed at how even the folks who were attacked because of this use that term, just totally accepting this terrible framing.”

In 2009, someone hacked a major climate research center and released thousands of private emails. One word in particular was key to the controversy that followed: “trick.” A look at how climate denialists exploit the differences between how scientists talk to each other, and to the public, to deliberately sow confusion.

Written and presented by Chiquita Paschal and Ian Steadman
Produced by Sarah Myles


Featured guests


Show notes

Some additional information and resources not directly linked to within the transcript (below):

  • Michael Mann, one of the recipients of the “trick” email, explains its meaning in his own words:

  • Here are some examples (1,2) of David Adam’s reporting for The Guardian on the hacked emails scandal from 2010
  • The paper’s live blog from the day of the release of the independent report that cleared the scientists involved is interesting to look back on for a flavor of the public debate and response at the time.
  • Here’s Susan Joy Hassol’s table of terms which mean different things to scientists and to the public:


Transcript

IAN STEADMAN: What do you think about when you hear the word “trick”?

CHIQUITA PASCHAL: I mean, deception, and lies?

IAN STEADMAN: That is the natural reaction, I think, and that’s the reaction that a lot of people had to the word “trick” back in 2009. Something happened in 2009, there was this thing called Climategate. Does that ring a bell?

CHIQUITA PASCHAL: No, but it sounds like it should.

IAN STEADMAN: Well, it was a very, very big news story for a very short period of time, and it’s a very interesting case study in what happens when you have a bunch of people who want to change our minds for the worse. They want to manipulate what we think about climate change in a way that makes us doubt the science and doubt what scientists say about the science, and the word “trick” is absolutely essential to this story.

CHIQUITA PASCHAL: Wait, who are these people? What’s the aim of not believing in climate science?

IAN STEADMAN: You have a difference here between normal people who aren’t experts and people who should know better and have malicious intent. Most people who are skeptical about climate change do so because they’re not experts, they aren’t familiar with the science, but they’ve heard somewhere or read somewhere at some point that the science is controversial, the science is maybe “not settled.”

But there is a much smaller group of people who are responsible for that skepticism. There are people out there who have a vested interest, for whatever reason, in making people doubt, or at least be skeptical about climate science. And Climategate, this thing that happened in 2009, is it really clear example of this. It all started with some hacked emails.

CHIQUITA PASCHAL: Ooh.

[INTRO THEME]

IAN STEADMAN: I’m Ian Steadman.

CHIQUITA PASCHAL: And I’m Chiquita Paschal.

IAN STEADMAN: And this is This Will Change Your Mind.

ALEX JONES CLIP: In these emails they talk about trying to suppress the real data and they talk about working with government to not release the documents to Freedom of Information Act request.

NEWS CLIP: By far the most embarrassing email is from 1999, in which CRU’s director Phil Jones brags that he’s used a “trick” to “hide the decline.” “Hide the decline” meaning hiding studies from tree rings that show the Earth cooling since 1960 when actual temperatures show a trend toward warming.

IAN STEADMAN: They started finding these emails between scientists, scientists discussing their research, and it was full of the kind of shop talk that you associate with, like, any internal communications. Like, just imagine how terrible it would be if our Slack conversations leaked.

CHIQUITA PASCHAL: Oh no.

IAN STEADMAN: But there was this one word in particular, “trick,” this one word. One email in particular was at the centre of Climategate. You have the director of the Climate Research Unit, a guy called Phil Jones, a climate scientist with many decades of experience. He’s emailing on a group thread with a bunch of other climate scientists around the world including one guy, Mike Mann, who is a very prominent climate scientists in the United States. He, in this email, there’s this one sentence. I’m going to read it for you now.

CHIQUITA PASCHAL: OK.

IAN STEADMAN: “I’ve just completed Mike’s Nature trick of adding in the real temps to each series the last 20 years to hide the decline.” What does that sound like to you?

CHIQUITA PASCHAL: I mean, hide the decline of what? There’s not enough context. I mean, it doesn’t sound great, I’ll be honest with that, like, “I did a trick to hide something.” I think it’s not just the word “trick,” it’s the word “trick” in conjunction with the word “hide” in the same sentence.

IAN STEADMAN: Yes.

CHIQUITA PASCHAL: Just sort of, like, alarm bells of sketchiness.

IAN STEADMAN: Well, this email became, was referred to as a smoking gun. It was like, “These are scientists who’ve been caught in the act of trying to hide science, they’re trying to lie to us.” People like Sarah Palin would talk about this in speeches, that there are climate scientists and they’ve been caught talking to each other about how they’re lying.

NEWS CLIP: Today, Sarah Palin, in a Washington Post op-ed wrote, “stolen emails from climate scientists reveal a highly politicized scientific circle pushing policies that won’t change the weather but they would change our economy for the worse.”

IAN STEADMAN: And very quickly you had polls showing that there were rises in skepticism about climate change across the English-speaking world.

CHIQUITA PASCHAL: What strikes me, though, what worries me, frankly, is the fact that this may have been targeted at the scientist who were working specifically on climate change issues, but in a sense the language and the rhetoric that was being used by the politicians almost seems like it’s trying to discredit all of science. Like, the scientific process and science in general, so it feels like this is something that could have been harmful even beyond the scope of just these emails.

So, like, what happened?

IAN STEADMAN: Well the good news is, as the fact that you barely remember this is probably testament to, it didn’t last very long. Long term, the spike in skepticism that was found by public polling dipped away. But it’s still a really interesting case study in just how easy it is to change people’s minds en masse by taking advantage of these very specific twists of language.

So, coming up, we’re going to talk with Phil Jones, the director of the Climate Research Unit, the guy who had his emails hacked, the guy who wrote the word “trick,” about what we can learn about twisting public opinion from Climategate.

PHIL JONES: It was in November 2009. I came into work one day and sat down, turned my computer on, and the phone rang, and it was a reporter from the radio station in New Zealand. He obviously had a time advantage on me because they’re way ahead of the U.K. in time, and I found out, later in the day I talked to someone called Gavin Schmidt. He works for NASA in New York and has the RealClimate website, and this is where the emails were dumped onto, and he took them down. He telephoned me later in the day.

IAN STEADMAN: But by then it was too late.

PHIL JONES: Yes. I’m professor Phil Jones and I used be director of the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia in the U.K. The Climatic Research Unit was set up in 1972, and I was the director from the late 1990s to 2016. At the biggest we were at was probably about 30 people, and one of the things we were most well-known for is producing the global temperature record, which we first published in 1982 and we update this every month, and we produce a summary every year, and we were looking at trying to extend the climate records back before we’d invented the thermometer using proxy records about the past from sources like trees, ice cores, corals, historical records, etc.

IAN STEADMAN: Yeah. I just wanted to read out the sentence from the email, and I want to clarify here this is an email from 1999. So this is a leak in 2009 of an email from 1999, which you wrote to Mike Mann, and this one sentence was quoted over and over again. “I’ve just completed Mike’s Nature trick of adding in the real temps to each series for the last 20 years to hide the decline.” What does the phrase “Mike’s Nature trick” mean to you?

PHIL JONES: Trick, you see, the use of the word trick is common usage in physics and maths, it’s not a trick as in a confidence trick, it was just a clever way of showing some bit of analysis. I could understand why it was seized upon.

It was about a report that was produced in the beginning of 2000 for the World Meteorological Organization, which was to try and produce a diagram for them showing temperature change over the last thousand years. So the records go back to the late 17th century, and there is a long record from central England which goes back to 1659, and there are other long records in Europe. Obviously the record are shorter in some parts of the world, in the interior parts of Africa and the Antarctic. It’s just where Europeans have got to in the past. So it was combining the instrumental data back to 1850 with the reconstruction we had then in 1999 for the temperatures over the period before that back to 1000.

IAN STEADMAN: And what does the decline refer to?

PHIL JONES: The decline relates to the slight mismatch between temperature reconstructions from trees and temperatures in high northern latitudes. So these are conifers, they’re pines, spruces, and larch.

If you want to produce a reconstruction from a temperature somewhere, you will combine instrumental temperatures with your reconstruction of temperatures from proxy sources, and in one diagram you might show the proxy sources going the whole way from 1000 to the present, and then you will show the instrumental temperatures with them. But then you might, for simplicity, combine them together. That’s what we were doing and you still see these diagrams of the time they want you

CHIQUITA PASCHAL: As a lay person, that sounds reasonable.

PHIL JONES: Yeah, and the reason we were doing it, they wanted to have this for the cover of this WMO report. They only wanted one curve, they didn’t want more than one curve, so instead of showing both we showed the one that combine the instrumental data with the proxy reconstructions.

IAN STEADMAN: So this is a report by specialists for other specialists?

PHIL JONES: Yeah, and no one looked at it between 2000 and 2010.

CHIQUITA PASCHAL: Had you had interactions with climate skeptics in the past or over the course of your research?

PHIL JONES: Some of them, they had emailed me and I responded and tried to help them but it just became too onerous to do.

IAN STEADMAN: What kind of questions did they ask?

PHIL JONES: Well, they wanted data and I couldn’t give them some data, I said, “I can’t give you that data,” because that person, and I gave them the email of that person to contact instead.

CHIQUITA PASCHAL: Good move, I like to do that, too.

PHIL JONES: This is the thing about access to data, it’s not all freely available. People will write a scientific paper about it, but you ask them for the data and they just don’t respond to you. Just because countries collect data doesn’t mean they should make it freely available.

A lot of countries don’t want to be a collection agency for European and American scientists to write scientific papers. What they want to do is to get their scientists to improve, and do the work themselves. And that’s also the case in China, and it’s happening in China, they are doing a lot of good science there now, and similarly in every country, they don’t want just to collect data, hand it over to someone else who then writes some key paper and gets all the credit.

CHIQUITA PASCHAL: Yeah, it’s like colonialism in science.

PHIL JONES: Yeah. And people think that this sort of data is free, even today.

CHIQUITA PASCHAL: And when you found out about this leak, about this email from ten years ago, do you have questions about who would do this and what their motivations were?

PHIL JONES: Well, we speculated, yeah, but we never come up with any conclusions. I mean the only thing related to the timing that it was a few weeks before the big United Nations framework convention meeting in Copenhagen. So, we informed some people at the University who then decided, and all the media coverage, to set up a couple of inquiries to see whether we’d done anything wrong. This was in late November, early December, 2009.

IAN STEADMAN: But by then, of course, the wider public discourse about this, it was already underway, I imagine.

PHIL JONES: Yes, if you look at the amount of reporting in 2009, and when the reports came out exonerating us in April and July, there was hardly any media interest in those reports.

IAN STEADMAN: It’s really interesting to me, like, the fact that you bring this up that the reports the investigations the inquiries into what happened have exonerated you and your colleagues, but that did not get the media coverage that initial leaks did. Why do you think that is?

PHIL JONES: I don’t know, it happens in numerous things. You see a lot of press coverage about something and then when some report comes in a year or two later it gets hardly any column inches at all.

I just think the Guardian’s an interesting want to talk to because they had this change of heart during events, and now they’re back the same as they were before. The person to talk to is a guy called David Adam. You got the impression that they had second thoughts for a while.

DAVID ADAM: Well, I suppose I was being a bit of a pain in the neck because I was the person saying, “I’m not sure about this, and I’m not sure about that, and that isn’t really true, and, you know, we should be really quite careful about repeating these things because I think when they are investigated it will be shown to be not true.”

Hi, I’m David Adam. I am now a freelance journalist, but until quite recently I was on the staff at Nature, and, before that, I was on the staff at The Guardian newspaper.

IAN STEADMAN: What was the first kind of heads-up on the news desk that day that something was happening?

DAVID ADAM: The timing of it was difficult. I think it all happened on a Friday or something like that, and the university kind of went into denial mode, and the people involved, Phil Jones and the others, as well as all their emails being released, they had lots of financial information, credit card numbers that kind of stuff so, as I understand it, they were all just focused on the personal sort of side of it. But I think the university’s attitude was, you know, “We’ll worry about it when we hear it on Radio Four.”

CHIQUITA PASCHAL: Uh.

DAVID ADAM: And they didn’t have to wait very long but, you know, a blog, stuff that appeared on blogs didn’t matter to university press officers in the way that if it appears on the front page of The Sunday Times.

IAN STEADMAN: What was happening when you go back to work on Monday? What was happening with you and your colleagues?

DAVID ADAM: I think there was just a general sense that this is a story, we need to cover it. And the easiest way to cover it was just to report the claims in the emails as they will be made, and then to have some scientists quoted as saying, “Climate change is a serious problem’.

And there was an awful lot of very strange political-style coverage. And at the time climate change was one of the hottest stories around to be honest, because, politically, it had been ramped up. You know, it was like, the allegation, or the accusations, whatever, they were so thin, all you had to do was sort of poke your finger and they just dissolved.

IAN STEADMAN: So, when it comes to these blogs, though, what was the landscape of climate skepticism like online at that time?

DAVID ADAM: It was marginal. I gave up writing about climate skepticism, sort of a year or two before, because I just thought it was dead. There was no attempt to engage in the actual content. People who didn’t know anything about it who just very, very clearly had a political stance, and to me that was just boring. And the climate skeptics were just in it for themselves really, they just wanted publicity. It was a bit like any other special interest group.

The scientists used to say that, not just in climate change, but by the time a scientific controversy, a scientific dispute turns up in the newspapers, it’s already been settled for a decade. You know, by the time some of these climate skeptics were trying to agitate about this that and the other, it had been done, it had been settled. But of course politics doesn’t work like that. People have their minds changed and influenced. Look I’m a journalist, OK, I spend my time trying to talk to people and work out what’s going on. Even I tend to just agree with the last person I spoke with.

And they were serious accusations that needed to be investigated, right? And they were investigated, and all the people involved were cleared of any wrongdoing. And it’s a classic example of the initial allegation getting a huge amount of attention based on a sliver of the evidence, and then all of the slow and steady investigations which actually delve into some of the details and test some of those allegations, they’re not interesting are they, they are not newsworthy, are they? They’re only newsworthy because you get to repeat all of the original allegations.

It turns out that there isn’t a massive, really exciting, evildoing conspiracy. It turns out, no, it really is just scientists doing really slow, careful, boring, methodical work about a long-term problem. It just very quickly, it went back to the narrative before. Remember that really, long drawn-out, boring story before we told you about? Well guess what, it’s long, boring and drawn-out. And everyone’s back to square one then, but without the political dimension, which is what had got it really to the point where it was on the front pages. That’s just the nature of news though isn’t it? The clue is in the name, in a way.

IAN STEADMAN: This is something that, I don’t know how you feel about this, Chiquita, but this sounds very familiar to me as a journalist. Trying to find a way to take a constant low-level background noise but try and chop it up in a way that gives it is kind of these firm points of, like, “Something is happening here that you can now react to.”

CHIQUITA PASCHAL: Oh yeah.

IAN STEADMAN: So do you think that is, like, a systemic problem in journalism that really contributed to people getting kind of bored of being told it was a problem?

DAVID ADAM: I think, yeah, absolutely it did. I mean, if you think about the conceit of a newspaper, even before the internet, which compressed all the timescales, is that the world has changed so much since yesterday that you have to pay us to tell you just how much it’s changed. And that’s why stuff like politics and sport is perfect for the newspapers because it does move on those timescales.

And climate change doesn’t. And so I think that’s what happened when Climategate broke. There was a real demand among the media to move the story on somehow and there was a sense that the message and the story and the claims became news in themselves.

IAN STEADMAN: So it sounds like, essentially, you have a story that is perfectly designed to exploit the nature of journalism to present both sides as equal. Do you think that it was like a deliberate strategy?

DAVID ADAM: I don’t think they’re aiming to exploit the media, I think it was far cruder than that. I just got the impression that someone had pressed download on a big file, and then pressed upload, and there it was, and then other people then went into it and took from it what they wanted to spin.

CHIQUITA PASCHAL: Was it clear at the time who had perpetrated the email leak?

DAVID ADAM: No, and I don’t think it’s clear now. There was talk about the Russians and, oh, how we laughed. My reaction at the time was that, you know, if you take anyone’s emails and sift them, you will find phrases that can be taken out of context. I do think that there was an unhealthy defensive attitude among many of the climate scientists, not that that was their fault, but it was unhealthy. Because, if you look through the specialist literature it was quite well covered that there was this row over need to access and the fact that these climate scientists were being reluctant for, perhaps good reason, to share that information, and it created a dynamic where they felt, I think, under attack, and also, therefore, in any kind of siege you just become tighter with your colleagues who are on your side.

To start with, people thought that the scientific argument would be enough to convince, and it did look as if that was going to happen for a while, but then the scientific case just never seemed to change. So there was a generation of scientists who just don’t think it’s their place to talk about the political implications of what they do. “Nothing to do with me, I’m just going to do the science.” And I think that time and time again history has shown us that that just isn’t a sensible strategy.

SUSAN JOY HASSOL: I do think that after this episode, many in the scientific community were put on notice that this was now a street fight that we were in, and we were going to have to become a lot more savvy in our communication.

My name is Susan Joy Hassol, I’ve been working in climate change communication for 30 years, and I started out trying to help scientists communicate more clearly what they know, and I also speak directly to policymakers, to journalists, to the public. I live in that netherworld between science and everyone else and try and help make the connections where I can.

CHIQUITA PASCHAL: So, in the course of this episode we use the term Climategate, like, 100 times or something, and when we reached out to you, the first thing you told us was…

SUSAN JOY HASSOL: “Never say Climategate.” I mean, I just let that word come out of my mouth, it may be one of the first times I have ever say that word. I’ve been very distressed at how, even the folks whose work, who were harmed by this, who were attacked because of this, use that term, just totally accepting this terrible framing.

When you put the suffix “gate” on anything, what does it mean? It means scandal, and that’s not what it is at all. There was no scandal involving climate change, the scandal was these emails that were hacked and stolen, taken out of context, put in false context, and if you accept the frame of contrarians, the people who want nothing but to stop action on climate change, and that’s the worst thing you can ever do in any communication, is to accept bad framing from your enemy and use the term. So, I would call it “the stolen emails.”

CHIQUITA PASCHAL: Pretty straightforward, I like it, I know what I’m getting.

SUSAN JOY HASSOL: I’ll tell you something else, the people that you’re talking about here do not have their minds changed my evidence, they are contrarians, they are deniers of the science, and you are doing them again a big favor by assigning them a name like skeptics. It’s way too good for what they are.

So I firmly believe that words matter and, in this case, these are terms that have been used not well, and I think it hurt our, everybody’s understanding, the public’s understanding, of what went on in this so-called controversy, this so-called scandal.

IAN STEADMAN: I feel good about that, of course you’re right when you say that they’re not really skeptics but, again, I feel like saying “this debate has been so shaped by them”…

CHIQUITA PASCHAL: It’s not a debate.

IAN STEADMAN: …but it shouldn’t really be called a debate either should it? Yeah.

SUSAN JOY HASSOL: I always tell scientists not to use the term “debate” when talking about climate change, because there is not a debate, there is not a debate in the climate science community whatsoever. It is a political controversy, but it certainly, I will just never use that term to be debate.

So, now I’m very happy, I’m now sitting on your shoulder and I can give you lots of other examples that really make a difference, and you’ll see it in these stolen emails, how they were taken out of context and manipulated to manipulate public opinion, and a great one since I just said the word is “manipulation.” Scientists use the term “manipulation” to talk about what they do with data, right? But, to the public, the word “manipulation” is illicit tampering. People go, “Oh, see, we knew they were manipulating the data, we knew they were biased.” And there’s another time that scientists use that means something entirely different to the public, the word “bias.”

CHIQUITA PASCHAL: All of our words are wrong.

SUSAN JOY HASSOL: Actually if you follow me on Twitter, I tweet @climatecomms, and if you go to @climatecomms you’ll see the pinned tweet is the table of some of these words, and they have different meanings to scientists and they do to the public. So scientists, we’ll go back to that word, “bias.” Another one of that’s sort of in that ballpark is the word “error.”

CHIQUITA PASCHAL: I see in here that you also have the term “theory,” which seems like a pretty huge one.

SUSAN JOY HASSOL: Right, because when the public uses that word, “Oh that’s just a theory,” but in the context of the stolen emails and how certain phrases and terms were taken out of context often words with these different meanings and then, you know, put in a false context, really fooled people. A great example of that is the word “trick.”

CHIQUITA PASCHAL: Aha.

SUSAN JOY HASSOL: It was about this dataset of Siberian tree rings, and they tracked, the growth of these trees tracked with temperature. Over time, the warmer it got, the longer these trees grew. But then, at a certain point, they went in the opposite direction, as it continued to get warm, the growth of the trees went down. So, that was the decline that they were talking about, quote, “hiding the decline.” It was the decline in the growth of this particular tree, not a decline in temperature. The temperature didn’t decline, the temperature kept going up because it was no longer a good proxy.

That’s what they were talking about when they talked about using “Mike’s Nature trick to hide the decline,” but people took it out of context, put it in the words “in temperature,” that was not in the email, the decline in temperature, that wasn’t there, false context, not just out of context, and so because of the different use of this word “trick,” people said, “oh, see, he was trying to trick you.”

IAN STEADMAN: That explanation is so clear to me, but it still took you a good minute to, kind of, run through exactly what was happening there, but it’s a lot quicker to just tell people look they’ve use this word trick and they are lying to you. I remember the old phrase, you know, “a lie is halfway around the world before the truth has got his boots on.”

It feels like the energy required to kind of explain exactly what’s happening here with these climate ideologues, there’s so much more energy required, and so much more time required to explain the deception that’s underway. How do you handle that, as a communicator?

SUSAN JOY HASSOL: You are so right about that, and it’s an endless frustration. Their job is very easy. All they have to do is introduce a kernel of doubt, and then you, in your explanation back, have a much harder job to do. You’ve got to take what hey said, explain why it’s wrong, explain what the truth is, and it’s just a much harder job, and it’s much harder to do quickly and succinctly, and I can probably do that explanation faster but it’s, you’re right, it just takes more time. You can see that I have a big job to do.

CHIQUITA PASCHAL: Yeah.

IAN STEADMAN: That is a huge job.

CHIQUITA PASCHAL: What were some of the biggest lessons or takeaways from the stolen emails that really changed how science communication functioned?

SUSAN JOY HASSOL: I think there are some good things and some bad things that happened as a result. I think the scientific commune was really caught flat-footed, was not ready with immediate responses. Didn’t want to talk, you know, for a long time or, you know, people did try and get out there with the explanation but as you’ve pointed out, the explanation is a lot longer and a lot harder to get across than the simple deception.

And, I guess that’s sort of on the good side of what happened, is that the community woke up to the fact that we are in a street fight, and we have got to learn how to defend ourselves and maybe also to sometimes go on the offense. You know, I think, on the downside, there really was, I hate to say it, but these contrarians, these ideologues, were effective in reducing public trust in climate science and climate scientists, and it’s just another example of really how effective the disinformation campaign has been. You know, they’re willing to just make stuff up.

And, so, my colleague Ed Maibach like to say that the secret of good communication is this. Simple clear messages, repeated often, by a variety of trusted sources. That’s it. So, the bad guys, the deniers, are quite good at that. They come up with a simple, clear message, they repeat it seven ways to Sunday, and they use trusted sources for their community, and they have been largely successful.

IAN STEADMAN: If the stolen email thing happened again today, or something similar, do you think that the community will be better equipped to respond?

SUSAN JOY HASSOL: I do think so, yes, I think that we have responded, I’ve seen the community respond to other attacks of this nature, and one of the things that happened after the stolen email incident, this spilled out from these crazy, right wing sources, spilled over into the mainstream media, and so, you had mainstream media doing a very poor job of reporting on this as if it were a scandal about climate science, and so I think that’s why I did so much damage. Some of these other attacks have, I think, remind contained to these outlier sources and not spilled over.

CHIQUITA PASCHAL: Let’s talk about the media for a second because me and because Ian and I are both journalists, and so this is a broader conversation that is happening amongst our peers and colleagues, I think, about trying to be more responsible in these ways. What are some of the things journalists can do to improve how we disseminate this sort of information?

SUSAN JOY HASSOL: There are a few things I would say. I would say to talk about it more. Climate change is the most important topic of our time, and it gets very scant coverage, right? It’s just not talked about very much. When it is talked about, it’s often framed as a political issue. It’s got much better, but it’s still a problem, where journalists will give voice to people who are just anti-science and are just spouting disinformation and making it seem like that there is still debate about questions which have long been settled.

You know, there are some things for which there is no other side. Journalists can do a much better job at connecting the dots between climate change and the extreme weather that we’re seeing now. They’re being influenced by climate change, by us. So, the new abnormal is that there is no new normal, and it’s going to keep getting worse until we do something about it. And this problem is too big to solve with voluntary action, one person at a time. We need structural, economic change. We need to start having the conversations, not about whether this is real or human-caused or whether it’s affecting us, all of that is well settled. We should be having the conversations and the political debates, yes, about what to do about, what are the most effective policies. To me, one of the most important things individuals can do is to get engaged in the political process.

So, you know, I’ve said we have to do this with policy but people can get engaged in that policy, and I think that’s one of the kinds of things that we should be dealing with in the political realm, how do we do this in a just way? How do we help people who will be harmed by this? How do we help poor people who are going to have to pay more for energy? We have to have a way to do this in a way that’s just.

CHIQUITA PASCHAL: Have you considered running for president in 2020?

SUSAN JOY HASSOL: No, no, I have no plans to run.

CHIQUITA PASCHAL: You heard it here first.

Yeah so, OK, we’ve been doing everything wrong, apparently, this whole time?

IAN STEADMAN: As journalists, absolutely. As people, also absolutely.

CHIQUITA PASCHAL: Cool, cool, cool. Alright.

IAN STEADMAN: But the thing is, I feel better equipped, and I hope people listening to this feel better equipped.

CHIQUITA PASCHAL: Yeah, there are things that we can do better, and it requires, like, being actually active news consumers.

IAN STEADMAN: There are tricks of people are going to try and pull on us, but they are just tricks. And there are techniques to spot them. Just be aware that when you hear from both sides of an issue, sometimes one side is there just because there needs to be two sides, not because they are actually deserving of it. Bear that in mind. These tricks of language are pretty easy to pull off, but they are just tricks of language.

CHIQUITA PASCHAL: I don’t know, Ian, it sounds like this requires a lot of independent, critical thinking and research.

IAN STEADMAN: It does but, you know, what are you going to do? I have no words to say that. It’s like, yes it does, life is hard and requires hard work. Do it. See you.

CHIQUITA PASCHAL: And always, always have a second source.

[END CREDITS]