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  Role of Citizen Scientists

Table — Role of Citizen-Scientists (source: Schneider 2003, "Mediarology", this website).

  • Citizens should demand from scientists answers to the 'three questions of environmental literacy': “What can happen?”, “What are the odds of it happening?”, and “How do you estimate all this?”
  • Citizens must get well enough informed to feel comfortable making value judgments — that is, choosing policies — based on the assessed risks and benefits
  • Citizens have to help determine what is a fair burden-sharing among those who pay to implement policies that manage risks
  • Citizens need to be sure the process of assessment is open — that is, that all relevant stakeholders are heard — but citizens should not be put in charge of estimating the credibility of scientific arguments given their lack of training in complex analysis and frequent bias for client’s interests
  • Citizens need to be sure the agenda for scientific assessment matches their views on what topics need credible assessment of probabilities and consequences
  • Citizens should avoid being hypocritical by blaming others while not themselves engaging in climate-friendly practices at the individual level. (For examples of some household "solutions," see Heede (2002).
Copyright 2011, Stephen H. Schneider, Stanford University