CHECK LIST FOR THIS NATIONAL FORUM TO GO LIVE:
- Awesome blogging platform that is search engine optimized to the hilt? Check.
- Google+ Authorship for participants? Check.
- Columnist-run nonprofit to protect the journalistic integrity of the Forum and ensure that the participating scientists and experts are actual scientists and experts? Check.
- Nationally renowned scientists willing to blog and, if necessary, go toe-to-toe on the latest science of climate change and national renowned policy experts willing to discuss and debate the policy implications of that science? Check.
- Site administrator and journalist to make it happen? PENDING FUNDS!
ONCE THE STAFF IS HIRED! WE WILL GO LIVE!! HELP US MAKE THIS HAPPEN!!
This blog, fact checker, forum, and news website will serve as an objective crowd-publishing platform for scientists, subject matter experts, and policy makers to discuss and debate the issue of climate change before millions of Americans. This “National Forum” or “Forum” will run for two years and be administered by the nonprofit Climate Change National Forum and Review (CCNFR) and covered by an independent journalist (the CCNFR board can hire or fire the journalist but cannot otherwise influence the coverage). This sleek, search engine optimized website and Google+ Authorship platform is ready to launch and dominate the online space, but there’s just one problem: WE HAVE NO MONEY FOR A STAFF!
We need to hire a site administrator to manage the site and technically accommodate the CCNFR blogging community and a scrupulously objective journalist to provide on-going coverage of the Forum and constant updates in social media. If we get funding for these two core team members, the Forum will go live and ClimateChangeNationalForum.org could very well become the most viewed website on climate change.
ClimateChangeNationalForum.org is a journalistic and educational project. The first version of the platform was created in 2010 by Michael Quirke, a former Army captain and current web developer and law student at the University of Houston. The project then gained the leadership and future participation of:
- Dr. John Nielsen-Gammon–Texas State Climatologist and Regents Professor of Atmospheric Sciences at Texas A&M University;
- Dr. Barry Lefer–Associate Professor of Atmospheric Science, Atmospheric Chemistry and Associate Chair of the Earth and Atmospheric Sciences Department at the University of Houston; and
- Prof. Tracy Hester–Assistant Professor of Law and Director of the Energy, Environment, and Natural Resources Center at the University of Houston Law Center.
These three incorporated Climate Change National Forum and Review as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit charity in 2012 and comprised the start of the future member-columnist community of ClimateChangeNationalForum.org. This future blogging community has grown to include other nationally renowned scientists and experts, such as: Dr. Kerry Emanuel—professor of atmospheric science and Director of the Program in Atmospheres, Oceans, and Climate at MIT; Dr. John Anderson—W. Maurice Ewing Professor of Oceanography and Director of the Shell Center for Sustainability at Rice University; Dr. Shi-Ling Hsu—professor of environmental law at Florida State University School of Law, economist, and author of “The Case for the Carbon Tax;” and others.
Membership in CCNFR and access with publishing privileges in the “backend” of the WordPress site is open to any scientist or subject matter or policy expert that can meet CCNFR’s baseline criteria. Those that use the platform will become voting members in the nonprofit and elect the board. The board, in turn, will serve as the gatekeeper and hire the journalism, technical, and administrative staff.
CCNFR is currently sending out a national call to climate and physical scientists to join CCNFR and to participate once the Forum goes live. Check out Dr. John Nielsen-Gammon’s Letter to Fellow Physical Scientists, which will appear in the American Meteorological Society (AMS) blog “The Front Page” in September and in other science publications and blogs.
What makes this website so powerful?
This super user-friendly WordPress site and publishing platform can accommodate up to 250 columnists without issues, so it’s built for a crowd. If a CCNFR columnist links ClimateChangeNationalForum.org with his or her own Google+ account, the blogger’s posts in the Forum will begin appearing in Google search results with the author’s icon and receive what SEO experts have described as “an almost unfair advantage in Google.” Google+ Authorship is a recent development by Google, and we intend to take full advantage of this powerful tool to grow a national audience for our bloggers.
Our nonprofit status also gives ClimateChangeNationalForum.org considerable advantages over for-profit news websites and individual blogs. For instance, the CCNFR journalism staff will be able to post up a wide range of outside articles, book excerpts, and videos for the expert blogging community to fact check and comment on without infringing on copyright (see criteria for the “fair use” of copyrighted material in 17 U.S.C. §107). This fact checker section (currently appearing at the top of the homepage) will enable the community of scientists to publicly debunk false arguments and junk science in the blogosphere and news media. It will also serve as a good catalyst for illuminating discussion and debate, which will increase site activity and translate into our generated content getting higher rankings on Google search results. We also will have the full panoply of Creative Commons Flickr photos (including an amazing and ever growing stock of NASA photos) for columnists to run with their content. These photos will make the site visually rich and even more educational, which will further increase our search engine optimization. Add a large blogging community and one continuously publishing journalist, and we could very well become the most viewed website on climate change science and policy during the life of the Forum.
What is the purpose of ClimateChangeNationalForum.org and Climate Change National Forum and Review?
The purpose is to educate the American public, journalists, and policy makers on the science of climate change and its policy implications. We intend to accomplish this by:
- providing scientists with a search engine optimized platform to blog on and publicly examine the latest science on climate change and, if necessary, go toe-to-toe in a public debate;
- providing subject matter experts and policy makers with a powerful platform to discuss and debate the policy implications of climate change (based on the science discussed and reviewed by the scientists); and
- hiring a scrupulously objective journalist to cover everything, so that average citizens in all facets of the American public can get informed.
Bottom-line, this is a journalism project and objective nonprofit platform for whoever shows up from the scientific and policy communities.
How will this work?
Climate and physical scientists will use ClimateChangeNationalForum.org as a platform for their own individual blogs and to publicly examine, discuss, and debate the latest science on climate change. Science columnists will be able to blog in any science category and in their own individual pages and freely comment under each other’s posts in comment threads that are only open to them. We will have Facebook plug-in that allows the public to comment, but this will be separate and below the scientists’ thread. The science columnists will also be able to fact check a continuous stream of outside media that is currently influencing the public’s understanding or misunderstanding of this issue. The journalist will be the one feeding these outside video clips, editorials, articles, papers, and book excerpts into the fact checker section. We intend to crowdsource climate and physical scientist-members of the American Meteorological Society (AMS) and American Geophysical Union (AGU). We are soliciting this group in the hopes of amassing a blogging community that is representative of the greater climate and physical scientist publishing community.
Once a good foundation in the science is set (not to imply that science can ever be “set”), phase II will kick in, and the Forum will open up to discussion and debate on the policy implications of climate change. During this latter phase, CCNFR’s blogging community of subject matter and policy experts will have publishing access in the Forum. Although examination of the latest science by the scientists will continue throughout the life of the Forum as more studies are published and the scientific knowledge of climate change advances, we intend to focus on crowdsourcing and giving public voice to subject matter experts of all kinds and policy makers on either side of the aisle in phase II. We expect the journalist to challenge this latter group to answer the question of what (if anything) can or should be done about climate change as a nation. It will be a question worth asking and an answer worth seeking.
For this to work, we need a journalist.
The journalist will provide ongoing coverage of the National Forum in a horizontal bar under the (currently named) “Review of Outside Material” section. (Note: the journalist’s section is not currently displayed on the site). It will be incumbent on this journalist to: keep the site active in the early days, when the blogging community is at its smallest; moderate as needed; feed outside material in the fact checker section; conduct interviews; report on the deliberations, exposés, and findings of the blogging community; post his or her own pieces on the material discussed by the scientists and experts; and provide constant updates in social media. The journalist will not drive the content, but he or she will be responsible for reporting on the deliberations and debate (wherever they may lead) and making the weighty and complex content of the Forum accessible to the general public. We also want this journalist to produce educational products from the content generated for lay persons, journalists, and policy makers.
In the event of substantial funding, we have even bigger plans for the platform. For instance, we would like to contract with graphic artists to put the most educational content and illuminating exposés in animated comic form. (See e.g., PHDcomics.com). Bottom-line, we expect this to be a two year project, and we want to make the most of it!
Where did this start?
This is a journalism project and educational initiative with national ambition, but the project idea was spawned–and the attendant nonprofit was founded–in Houston, Texas. Naturally, many of the participating scientists and policy experts are from Texas. We therefore hope that Houston and the greater Texas and Gulf Coast region will help provide a good regional context and lend more local voices to the public examination of this complex, global issue.
Help us make it happen by donating today!
Interested in providing a significant contribution that will enable this national initiative to reach its full potential? Consider becoming a Galileo Capital Sponsor and being thanked as such on our homepage for the entire life of the Forum. See climatechangenationalforum.org/become-a-galileo-capital-sponsor/.
1. Raise $65,000 to hire the staff.
2. Hire the site/organizational administrator to run the site and technically accommodate the blogging community.
3. Hire an objective, energetic journalist that has a knack for breaking down complex science and hasn’t already covered this issue in depth (we want someone fresh).
4. GO LIVE and deploy a robust GoogleAdWords/Social Media/SEO campaign. We have already set the stage for stories on the debut by Houston Public Media, Houston Chronicle, and Texas Climate News and wouldn’t be surprised if we get picked up by national networks. A benefactor has also offered his beautiful restaurant in Houston for a celebratory dinner to generate some buzz.
5. The scientists will begin blogging and beckon others to join. Initially, with the blogging community at its smallest, the journalist will carry more of the weight in keeping the site continuously active. The fact checker section should serve as a good, continuous catalyst for site activity during this crucial growth period. Since the initial group includes nationally renowned climate and physical scientists, we expect a high standard to be set in terms of quality educational content. Columnists are also free to invite temporary guest columnists, even individuals that could never meet the CCNFR columnist criteria, such as an elementary school science teacher or author of a controversial book on climate change. Columnists giving guest columnist access to other non-member scientists should be a good recruitment strategy. At this point, the content generated by columnists (especially those with Google+ accounts) should begin appearing prominently in Google search results for climate science-related keyword searches.
6. Slowly but surely a critical mass will be achieved in terms of site activity. This might take three months with 20 columnists starting out or over a year with five. At this time, content generated by the ClimateChangeNationalForum.org blogging community will begin to dominate the online space. If someone searches for material that has been fact checked by science columnists, CCNFR’s review of the material will often appear above the link for the actual material searched for! We could very well become the most viewed website on climate change. It is at this point that we will serve as a true national forum on climate change and credible source of educational content for millions of Americans.
7. What answers will we find? Who knows? I am just a former infantry officer educated in the liberal arts and creator of a cool WordPress site. I do know that apparently 97.2% of scientists that are currently publishing peer-reviewed scientific literature endorse the position that humans are causing global warming (see Cook et al 2013). The 2.8% of publishing scientists who do not endorse the consensus theory will also be welcome to join and participate in the Forum, so we’ll see what happens. That’s what makes the project so exciting and appealing to ALL facets of our divided, American electorate.
8. After the dust settles, and a good examination and any necessary debate on the science has been had, the Forum will open up to discussion on debate on the policy implications of climate change. At this point the journalist will reach out to and challenge subject matter experts and policy makers on either side of the aisle to participate in an ongoing, national debate on what can or should be done about climate change as a nation. Scientists will continue to examine the science as more studies are published and the scientific knowledge of climate change advances. Scientists will also be encouraged to comment under the policy posts to keep the discussion and debate grounded in science.
That’s the plan. All we need is a staff of two to execute it!
Why we’re doing it
Right now millions of Americans are trying to understand the science of climate change and its policy implications but are inhibited by partisan politics, hyperbole, misinformation, and straight obfuscation. We at CCNFR intend to provide these citizens (and global readers) with a credible and objective source of engaging educational content on climate change.
We at CCNFR believe this search engine optimized/Socratic forum holds the most promise for a true national dialogue that bypasses the rhetoric and ends at a deeper, national understanding of the science on this issue (and how science works in general) and the policy implications of that science. Given that this will be an open and objective forum, we really don’t know where the discussion and debate will lead, but we know that it will be beyond the current, partisan morass.
Help us make it happen. Donate today.
-Michael Quirke, ClimateChangeNationalForum.org platform creator and executive director of CCNFR