A Balanced View: Climate Scientists in the Press

As project managers, we often find ourselves at the fulcrum of decisions in which we must take diverse viewpoints into account and make key project decisions, sometimes in the ‘heat of battle’.

For example, does this sound familiar?

Quality Engineer: “We need 5 weeks to do this verification test!”

Product Manager: “They can do that testing in 2 weeks.”

Quality Engineer: “Actually, now it looks like we need 6 weeks!”

Product Manager: “Let’s skip that test altogether, it adds no value!”

So you know this to be true.  We constantly have to make our best judgments based on what we hear, what we benchmark, and we always try to base decisions on facts and not emotion.  That is ‘the way’ for a good PM to work.

A few months ago, the press was pretty bad for climate scientists.  From what you were hearing, it sounded like they made up the whole of climate change.  They were fudging results, sending fake emails, and if you believed some people, were the devil incarnate.

The problem is that now many folks have ‘written off’ the warnings of climate scientists because of that bad press.

Now it turns out that several independent agencies have – with the exceptions of a few minor mistakes of judgment – cleared the findings of the scientists.

In this story, from the BBC, for example, the conclusion of a Dutch government panel was that there were “no errors that would undermine the main conclusions” on probable impacts of climate change.

We urge you to make up your own mind.  One way to do that is to get informed.  And one way to do that is to check out this very well-researched, and heavily hypertexed “history of global warming” by physicist turned historian Spencer Weart.

One other resource we’d like you to check out is “The Six Americas”

It’s all about audience.  And whether it’s regarding climate change or scope creep, project managers need to know their audience.  In this case (well, this is EarthPM after all) it is indeed about climate change.

Studies at George Mason University determined that there are really six different audiences – or mindsets – about climate change:

  • The Alarmed
  • The Concerned
  • The Cautious
  • The Unconcerned
  • The Doubtful
  • The Dismissive

The full report is summarized in this compact PDF.

But you can see in the image below that the audience is split along these six mindsets and if you wanted to get your green project message across you should understand each audience.  Again, this could be true for ANY message.


So consider your audience, collect facts, and look at aspects of your project – including green aspects – in a fair and balanced way.

July 26, 2010 by RichMaltzman

Scott's Contracting

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