history and that this archive—while not fully understood—is perhaps science’s best tool to understand Earth’s climate future.
Committing to Paleoclimate Education and Outreach
Given the poor state of the public’s understanding of Earth sciences, and climate science in particular, it is time to commit to the ideal that education and outreach (E&O) cannot merely be afterthoughts to scientific research activities. By consigning E&O to a relatively minor role within science institutions and proposals, scientists have inadvertently but effectively cut off the public from understanding scientific research. The result has been that a significant percentage of the U.S. public distrusts or ignores scientific climate change information. Accordingly, rather than promote specific E&O programs, the committee recommends that there be a renewed commitment within every paleoclimate project to the dissemination and communication of results to students, teachers, and the public. The successful E&O activities associated with such programs as ANDRILL, IODP, and the Incorporated Research Institution for Seismology (IRIS) show that with an appropriately funded focal point for scientific interaction—a characteristic of each of these programs—it is possible to effectively convey rather complex scientific issues and scientific accomplishments to a broader audience. This reinforces the call for programmatic and funding support for broad-based interdisciplinary collaborations for deep-time paleoclimate science advanced in this report, because these collaborative focal points could easily include the type of dedicated E&O resources as the successful models noted above. Some existing E&O efforts for deep-time paleoclimatology have been summarized here, but these efforts have to be expanded and more such efforts should be established. In a field that suffers from chronically low resource allocations, education and outreach are suffering far more in the area of paleoclimate than in general climate education. However, students and the public have always had a particular affinity for Earth history and extreme events of the past, and accordingly this is a key area for attracting student and public attention to climate science in general.