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Climate science the focus of new web toolkit


Washington, DC – The American Chemical Society (ACS) today launched a new web-based resource to enhance understanding and communication of the science underpinning global climate change. Intended for ACS’ more than 164,000 members and others, the American Chemical Society Climate Science Toolkit is available at www.acs.org/climatescience.

The project, more than a year in development, was one of the major initiatives that Bassam Z. Shakhashiri, Ph.D., ACS president, put forth for his year in office. Shakhashiri, the William T. Evjue Distinguished Chair for the Wisconsin Idea at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, says the toolkit has a sharp focus on the scientific concepts that determine Earth’s climate.

“The ACS Climate Science Toolkit fills a need for education, and equips scientists with the information and other resources necessary to develop a robust intellectual structure to communicate on this key topic,” said Shakhashiri. “Climate change affects everyone and everything on Earth, and ranks as one of the greatest global challenges of the early 21st century.”

The ACS Climate Science Toolkit discusses greenhouse gases, how the Earth’s heating mechanism works, how the vibrational energy from molecules changes into translational kinetic energy and much more. The toolkit also provides a package of “Climate Science Narratives” that can be adapted and personalized when scientists have the opportunity to speak about climate science to other audiences.

Work on the toolkit began in 2011, when Shakhashiri formed the ACS Presidential Working Group on Climate Science, a panel of distinguished scientists and science communicators chaired by physical chemist and science educator Jerry A. Bell, Ph.D. The panel worked on two tasks. One was to develop a toolkit that ACS members and others could use for self-education on climate science, to understand the fundamental chemical and physical processes that determine Earth’s climate. The second was an ongoing task of developing strategies for using the toolkit in communicating about climate change to other audiences.

Members of the working group include:

  • Bassam Z. Shakhashiri, Ph.D., William T. Evjue Distinguished Chair for the Wisconsin Idea, the University of Wisconsin-Madison
  • Jerry A. Bell, Ph.D., chair, the University of Wisconsin-Madison
  • Joseph S. Francisco, Ph.D., William E. Moore Distinguished Professor of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences and Chemistry, Purdue University
  • Peter Mahaffy, Ph.D., King’s University College in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, and co-director of the King’s Centre for Visualization in Science
  • Kathleen M. Schulz, Ph.D., president of Business Results Inc., Albuquerque, N.M., and a member of the ACS Board of Directors
  • Susan Solomon, Ph.D., Ellen Swallow Richards Professor of Atmospheric Chemistry and Climate Science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • John Wiesenfeld, Ph.D., professor emeritus at Florida Atlantic University
  • Rudy M. Baum, consultant, former editor-in-chief of Chemical & Engineering News
  • Barbara J. Finlayson-Pitts, Ph.D., consultant, University of California-Irvine
  • Mario J. Molina, Ph.D., consultant, University of California-San Diego
  • Michael Woods, ACS staff liaison, assistant director, science communications, ACS Office of Public Affairs
  • Katie Cottingham, Ph.D., ACS staff liaison, senior science writer, science communications, ACS Office of Public Affairs
  • Darcy Gentleman, Ph.D., ACS staff liaison, ACS Science & the Congress Project, ACS Office of Public Affairs