I wrote an exciting and insightful comment there, which like everything I write anywhere got misinterpreted. So I’ve cleaned it up and put it here:
“Scientists should talk more” is (I think) just excuse making. In much the same way that you can be sure that when GW really starts causing trouble [see folks, I do believe really, I haven’t quite gone over to the Dark Side yet, and I still don’t understand RF], all the right-wing conservative folk will be laying into the scientists for failing to warn them loudly enough that there was a problem.
The clue is in the job title. Scientists do science. They are good at it (well, the good ones are. Just like anything else, there is a wide spectrum). They usually aren’t good at communication (do *you* remember the science-types at school?). People who are good at communication are the despised PR-types, journalists (ahem. sorry about that one), marketroids, etc. etc.. In fact, we science-types got an excellent lesson in the value of journalists communication skills when putting together the “global cooling” paper, which John Fleck immeasurably improved. But he didn’t do the science for it (well, to be fair, it was a historical-review type paper not science anyway).
What the scientists are saying is well known. You can find it in IPCC if you want. All govts employ enough speechwriters and tame semi-scientists to translate it into politician-speak if they want to hear. Generally govts don’t want to, because they know full well what the answer is: slow down, less economic frenzy, less bloated consumption. You see it written in minature in fisheries policy, where the science is if anything even clearer, and ignored.
I’m not saying that scientists shouldn’t talk. When I was one, I did, though in venues of my choice (and a couple of times on the radio, though that was uncomfortable). Anyone who wants to should. But don’t expect any upsurge in talking to lead to a change in policy, because lack of words isn’t what is holding policy back.
While I’m here, and in an attempt to distract you from my illogic, this reminds me of something I heard on the radio today: yet another report, this time to the UK govt, about how to prevent the banking crisis blah blah wibble, and how boards need better non-execs, blah. It is all nonsense. They are companies, dedicated to making money – that is capitalism. If they think taking risks is going to make them piles of dosh, they will find a way to do so. If you don’t want them to take risks, you need to find a way to make it unprofitable – perhaps by not propping the fools up when they collapse in a heap. But to do that you then need to make it possible to allow them to fail, which takes vigorous careful action, not something govts are over-fond of.