This week a colleague sent me a private message saying that she was going to block a person on Twitter because he was being rather uncivil in his approach to her. It is unfortunate because I have noticed that some people are particularly aggressive towards my female counterparts on social media. Heck, I was even racially-harassed by scientists that disagreed with something I wrote about climate change. While that is awfully disheartening and frankly a bit pathetic, it is a topic for a different day, and the colleague that I spoke of can more than hold her own. Around the same time of this observation, I was being interviewed for a magazine. The writer remarked that I seemed to have the type of personality able to withstand conflict and allow for engagement in various platforms. In that moment, I thought about both situations. I am a scientist that is able to navigate the traditional grounds of the ivory tower but also engage in social media, host TV shows or podcasts, and have civil disagreement.
But in general, are personality types that typically go into science cut out for contemporary discourse? I want to explore this from the perspective of climate science.
Science and the public. Chicago Museum of Science and IndustryNOAA WEBSITE
After completing my doctoral work in the 1990s at Florida State University, I was a research meteorologist and deputy project scientist at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center for 12 years. For the past 12 years, I have been a professor at a major University, and director of its Atmospheric Sciences program. Along the way, I also served as the president of the American Meteorological Society. I mention all of those things simply to establish that I have been around a lot of scientists in the past 25 years.