Originally published April 3, 2012 at 11:30 a.m., updated April 3, 2012 at 2:34 p.m.
We talk to a USD scientist who is leading the effort to educate the public about San Diego's climate issues.
Michel Boudrias, marine scientist, USD
Most scientists will admit they haven’t always been successful at explaining climate change to the general public. A recent survey found while 62 percent of Americans believe climate change is happening, 26 percent do not. The other 12 percent are unsure.
Michel Boudrias, a University of San Diego marine scientist, hopes to change that. He received $1.25 million in federal funding to increase the public’s understanding of climate change.
Boudrias told KPBS he will tackle this task in a specific way: by targeting key leaders in the community who can spread the word about climate change.
“A part of the reason why we wanted to work with the key influential community leaders, the business leaders, the thought leaders really of San Diego, is to have a situation where they could be a portal to their own community," he said. "Maybe they will be the messenger because their community will respond to them better. Maybe they will be the ones who will work with us to help develop the message that’s more appropriate for the business community, for example, for elected officials.
"The idea is that this will be a ripple effect, that they will therefore be able to approach their communities and then a larger group of people will therefore be educated and will learn more about the facts and be able to make smart decisions.”
Boudrais said he could not disclose who those key leaders will be. He added that another focus of the effort will be to depoliticize climate change.
"As a scientist, I work in a world of facts, I want to present the facts, we want to present them in a very fair way, to try to depoliticize the whole discussion," he said.
The collaborative grant also includes scientists from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, researchers from the Energy Policy Initiative Center at USD, social and behavioral psychologists from California State University San Marcos, community planners from The San Diego Foundation and a strategic communication expert from The Steve Alexander Group.