Scientist Scripts

I imagine few Australians have missed the debate about whether it was wise fo Cate Blanchett to be included in the ads campaigning for a price on carbon.

All this left me wondering: How would people have responded to a scientist in a campaign like this. Would they have been derided as part of the “elites”, treated like an “ordinary Australian” or something else.

Which took me to thinking how one would use them. Here’s a couple of very rough scripts I came up with. I’d be interested in what people think.

#1 Filmed with a background of slides of graphs and shots of weather patterns and the scientist with their children as appropriate.

“Hi, I’m X, and I’m a climate scientist. I’m also a mother/father. I spend week days looking at the impact carbon emissions are having on our climate. I love my work and find it fascinating. We’ve turned the whole planet into a laboratory to test what happens when you add billions of tonnes of heat-catching gasses to the atmosphere every year. As an Australian I’m proud some of the best climate research in the world is done right here.

But when I get home from work I look at my kids and think about the world we’ll be leaving them. Suddenly this experiment looks more like something Dr Frankenstein would cook up. That’s why I’m supporting a price on pollution. As an Australian I’m embarrassed that we’re the biggest polluters per person of any large nation in the world.

If like me you’d like to change that, say Yes Australia.

#2 Possibly filmed in a lab with Doherty in a labcoat.

“I’m Peter Doherty and I’m a medical scientist. In 1996 I shared the Nobel Prize for Medicine for work on how the body’s immune system fights off viruses. Back then I thought medical science would keep making our lives longer and healthier.

However, at the same time I was doing that work other scientists were uncovering the threat our emissions of gasses like carbon dioxide pose to the planet. Global Warming is not just an environmental issue, it’s a health issue. Already people are dying from tropical diseases in places they couldn’t reach a few decades ago. Disasters like droughts, floods heatwaves and cyclones are getting more frequent, more severe or both. Unless we stop polluting we’ll reach a point where climate change is killing more people than medical research can save. For the first time in centuries children will average shorter lives than their parents.

That’s why I’m supporting putting a price on pollution, and I’m asking Australia to say Yes.”

#3 Filmed on GBR. Scientist surfaces and pulls off mask.

“Hi I’m Y. I used to think I had the best job in the world, getting paid to study the Great Barrier Reef. These days it’s not so much fun. Summers are getting hotter and when they do the reef get’s damaged.

{Image of bleached reef} See this. That’s the result of a long hot summer. The reef is struggling to survive. But it doesn’t have to be like that.

{Image of station} We run our research station on solar power. Twenty years ago that was hard, but today renewable energy is ready to take off. If Australia joins more than 30 other countries that have a price on pollution – and many more that are about to bring one in – we can save places like this,

{scientist with school children doing hands on experiments} and these kids will have a reef to study when they grow up.”

#4 Martin Green standing against some solar panels

“Hi I’m Martin Green. Did you know that many of the breakthroughs that made these solar panels possible were made here in my lab in Sydney? Australians made solar cells affordable. One of my students invented the world’s best solar hot water system, but he had to go to China to get anyone to build it. I used to work with Dr David Mills, whose now designing some of the largest solar thermal plants in the world. Another of my colleagues, Maria Skyllas-Kazacos invented the Vanadium Redox Battery, probably the best way to store the sun’s energy for night time or cloudy days.

Yet with all this research here, and so much sunlight to harvest, Australia is falling further and further behind Europe, China, America and even Canada when it comes to building solar power. A big part of the problem is we don’t charge the companies that burn coal for the pollution they produce.

That’s why I support a price on pollution, and using that money to invest in renewable energy. Say yes Australia.”

I’m sure my readers are much more sympathetic to hearing what scientists have to say than the general public, but what do you think? Might any of these work?




About Stephen Luntz

I am a science journalist, specialising in Australian and New Zealand research across all fields of science. My book, Forensics, Fossils and Fruitbats: A Field Guide to Australian Scientists is out now through CSIRO Publishing. I am also a professional returning officer for non-government organisations. I'm very politically active, but generally try to restrict this blog to scientific matters.
This entry was posted in Enemies of science, Global Warming, Hope. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Scientist Scripts

  1. Justin-Paul Sammons says:

    I think ALL of them would make excellent ads. Seriously. And there wouldn’t be any point in just picking one – the point would be to show that climate change is already having an impact on the work of scientists across several fields.

  2. Thanks Justin-Paul. If running on youtube then yes, I think the combination of several would be good. For TV however, it would be very expensive to run them all. Unless they were only run in Tamworth and Port Maquarie, which might have some merit. If it was a matter of making just one do you have a favourite?

  3. tamino says:

    I’d say that #4 would be my top choice — emphasizing Australia’s innovation and technology will probably have mass appeal.

    #1 would be my second choice.

    #2 has the big advantage of including a Nobel laureate. BIG advantage.

    I think #3 is weakest, because it’s hard to get people to make any kind of sacrifice to save a reef. I would — but the average person is less likely to.

  4. Justin-Paul Sammons says:

    Okay, if I had to choose one, I’d probably go for #4, because it appeals to the hip-pocket nerve: i.e., we’re making all the breakthroughs, but investment and jobs go elsewhere! That counters the whole “a carbon tax will drive Australia into recession” argument.

    #1 is the somewhat emotive, family-oriented appeal, #3 the straightforward environmental one, and #2 the frightening doomsday scenario – which is probably the one that will catch people off-guard the most, but might not be as effective if we’re trying to remain hopeful.

    So if only one were to be filmed and shown on the television, I think it would still be valuable to make the other three and put them on YouTube, if possible.

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