Debunking Climate Lies No Longer Hit and Myth
Climate-change deniers have nowhere to hide thanks to an ingenious piece of software that detects inaccurate statements on global warming that appear on the internet and delivers an automated response on Twitter citing peer- reviewed scientific evidence.
The so-called ‘Twitter-bot’ is the brainchild of Australian webmaster John Cook and software developer Nigel Leck, and is part of an armoury of tools Cook has developed to rebut common myths and inaccuracies about climate change.
A physics graduate from the University of Queensland who majored in solar physics in his postgraduate honours year, Cook launched the Skeptical Science website in 2007 after becoming frustrated at lies and half-truths surrounding global warming. The site provides a scientifically accurate database of climate information and is the engine room of Cook’s campaign to use the web, smartphone apps and social media tools to disseminate climate information.
Having received international acclaim within the science world, the Skeptical Science website receives more than 500,000 visits per month, while the iPhone app has been downloaded more than 72,000 times.
For his work in communicating science to an online audience, Cook has won the 2011 Eureka Prize for Advancement of Climate Change Knowledge.
The prize is part of the Australian Museum Eureka Prizes, the most prestigious awards in Australian science. The winners were announced last night at a star-studded evening for the country’s most inspired minds.
‘The Eurekas’, as they are fondly known, have become the most coveted science awards in this country. Every scientist knows a ‘eureka’ moment comes after decades of singular dedication, deep inquiry and rich collaboration. Receiving an Australian Museum Eureka Prize is regarded as a pinnacle achievement for any Australian scientist.
“Working in his spare time to better explain climate science, John Cook is reaching hundreds of thousands of readers and providing material that has been adopted by scientists and climate communicators around the world,” says Frank Howarth, Director of the Australian Museum. “His unique efforts using web and social media tools come at a time when accurate information is essential in terms of understanding and responding to climate change.”
Written for an international audience, the Skeptical Science website has published rebuttals to more than 150 climate myths featuring explanations in both plain language for the public and more technical versions for science aficionados. The rebuttals have been translated into 19 languages and draw from an online community that provides a steady flow of educational material on climate science.
Blog posts from Cook and his team are available on smartphones as an iPhone, Android or Nokia application, while news content and the latest research is announced via Twitter (to more than 2600 followers) and on Facebook (to more than 3300 friends).
Cook has published the highly popular 12-page booklet The Scientific Guide to Global Warming Skepticism, which has been downloaded more than 550,000 times. He has also co-authored the book Climate Change Denial with environmental scientist Haydn Washington and has published climate articles in mainstream media outlets, including The Guardian, The Huffington Post and ABC Environment, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s online gateway to environmental debates.
The $10,000 New South Wales Government Eureka Prize for Advancement of Climate Change Knowledge is awarded to an Australian individual, group or organisation for communication that motivates action to reduce the impacts of climate change.