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Mason scientist Ed Maibach honored for climate change education efforts

November 20, 2017   /   by John Hollis

Ed Maibach

Maibach

The American Association for the Advancement of Science has selected George Mason University’s Ed Maibach as one of its new fellows and will officially honor him in 2018.

Maibach, a professor and the director of George Mason’s Center for Climate Change Communication, was among the 376 scientists selected after spearheading the start of a groundbreaking program called “Climate Matters” that relies on an innate public trust of television meteorologists to better educate the American public about climate change.

“Just knowing that someone cared enough to have nominated me, that made my year,” Maibach said. “To actually be given the honor is really terrific.”

Currently, 25 percent of all the nation’s TV meteorologists take part in the Climate Matters program, Maibach said.

“The purpose of science is to improve our understanding of how the world around us works,” Maibach said. “But the real value of that – the full value of an enhanced understanding of how the world works – requires that we share the knowledge with anybody who wants to know.”

Climate Matters began to take root seven years ago when Maibach and his team first worked with Jim Gandy, a TV meteorologist in South Carolina, to help him report on the local impacts of global climate change. This collaboration led to significant changes in understanding of climate change among Gandy’s viewers.

With support from the National Science Foundation, Maibach expanded that successful pilot test into a thriving, nationwide climate education program involving more than 450 TV meteorologists across America.

“All Americans should be making plans about how to protect themselves and their families from changes in the climate and weather,” he said. “Weathercasters are a terrific group of professionals who are helping Americans come to this realization.”

Future plans include bringing more TV meteorologists on board, as well as offering the Climate Matters reporting resources to other journalists working in America’s newspaper, TV, radio and digital newsrooms.

“Our Climate Change in the American Mind surveys – conducted with our partners at Yale – show that public understanding of climate change is moving in the right direction at a very good pace,” Maibach said.

Founded in 1848, the nonprofit American Association for the Advancement of Science is the world’s largest general scientific society and is the publisher of the journal Science, as well as several other publications.

Maibach will be formally presented with an official certificate and a gold and blue rosette pin at the AAAS Fellows Forum during the organization’s annual meeting in Austin, Texas, on Feb. 17, 2018.