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Science historian discusses views of climate change

Historian of science at the University of California, San Diego, Naomi Oreskes gave a lecture on the science of climate change and the notion of scientific consensus at 7 p.m. Monday, Oct. 20, in Chase Hall Lounge, 56 Campus Ave.

Oreskes focused on the established agreement within the scientific community on the existence of climate change and the implications of these changes.

Sponsored by the College Lecture Series, her talk offered insight into the involvement and tension of political influence in the scientific community. The event was open to the public free of charge.

Oreskes’ research aims to bring attention to scientific facts about climate change that have been downplayed or ignored by political figures for as long as 30 years, delaying action to deal with greenhouse gases. Her analyses of abstracts published in scientific journals between 1993 and 2003 revealed that nearly 20 percent explicitly say that Earth’s climate has been impacted by human activities, with another 55 percent implicitly endorsing the consensus.

Her essay on science and society “Beyond the Ivory Tower: The Scientific Consensus on Climate Change” was published in the journal Science in December 2004 and cited in Al Gore’s influential documentary “An Inconvenient Truth.”

Oreskes has also taught at Harvard, New York University and Dartmouth, and has worked as a consultant for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. National Academy of Sciences. In 2004, she received the George Sarton Award Lecture from the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and she completed an American Philosophical Society Sabbatical Fellowship in 2002.

She has been cited by National Public Radio, The New Yorker, USA Today, Parade and the Royal Society’s publication, “A guide to facts and fictions about climate change.”

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