Here’s the problem. You are a scientist, working on measuring the levels of aragonite in ocean water. It’s not very sexy and nobody beyond a small cadre seems to care. But it’s grant time and you and your team are “figuring out how to make the issue more potent” so that you can bring in the bucks.
How do you do it?
The first thing you should immediately consider these days is “turning up the heat on the issue through the media.” However, convening a press conference on “The Importance of Aragonite in Ocean Water” is unlikely to interest even the New York Times.
You need to be clever. Your job in “expanding awareness” has to start with a snappier moniker. You need a term that is “easy to comprehend” and, if you’re lucky, sounds “alarming.”
Renaming is thus “a critical step.”
So you ponder. Then you recall that aragonite levels are related to the amount of diffused carbon dioxide in ocean water. Some chemistry helps: when CO2 dissolves in water it lowers that water’s pH. And what is lowering pH sometimes called? Acidification!
Success! Not only is this a fantastically frightening term, it drives “home the idea that carbon dioxide [i]s a pollutant.”
Your next step is to find a PR firm whose specialty is to “link researchers with policy-makers and the media.” The good news is that there are no shortage of such places.
Of course, you have to be honest about “the” science and the uncertainties (as you understand them). But if you’re lucky, even the possibility, no matter how small, of risk will be enough to frighten Congress into action.
I think we can agree “the acidification story provides a model of how to get science on the congressional agenda.”
A fuller account of this fascinating and inspirational story may be found here (Nature magazine, again leading the way).