Scientists used to think that sharing the facts and evidence of an issue was enough to sway policy makers and the general public. Unfortunately, with many issues facing us today there are vested interests looking to derail civil discourse around topics like climate change and vaccines. Today Evidence for Democracy launched a toolkit for scientists to better advocate for evidence based policy decisions. The idea now is to provide scientists with guides on how to share facts and evidence so that the general public can benefit from their research and not be manipulated by lobbying campaigns and the like.
Whether you want to dip your toes into advocacy for the first time, or are looking to fine-tune your skills, this guide will help you expand your toolbox of advocacy strategies, and build and nurture relationships with decision-makers.
Fostering a better relationship between scientists and policy-makers is not just about enabling ground-breaking discoveries or strengthening the economy. It’s also about how science can serve the collective good — for a healthier, more prosperous, and just society.
Within the guide, you will also find firsthand experiences from parliamentarians reflecting on their experiences interacting with the science community. Personally, I’m still thinking about this quote:
“Conversations around science are frequently centered around funding. They are less often about how [the] government can make better evidence informed decisions using the research that is being produced by the stakeholders I meet with.” — Member of Parliament
The visual impaired population is getting more support from AI to help them ‘see’ the world around them. The already very successful human-powered app Be My Eyes (we’ve covered it before) has launched Be My AI, an automated tool that can help in certain circumstances. Using an AI trained to identify everyday objects users can use the camera on their phone to quickly identify objects, of course it isn’t perfect and nor can it fully replace the human aspect of Be My Eyes. One user has written up their experience of the tool which you can read here.
You can use Be My AI 24/7 in all those situations when you want quick visual assistance without necessarily calling a human volunteer. Be My AI is perfect for all those circumstances when you want a quick solution or you don’t feel like talking to another person to get visual assistance. You may be amazed that Be My AI knows more than just what’s in the photo – just ask for more context and discover what it can tell you.
Be My AI also will give deaf-blind users a new way to get information if they use, for example, a braille display. Be My AI’s written responses are user-selectable in 29 languages.
For all of its advantages, though, Be My AI does not and should not replace a white cane, guide dog, or other mobility aid that provides for safe travel.
Way back in 2011 we took at a new app that helps to identify the world around, back then it was to help the California redwoods. That app is iNaturalist and it’s had a great decade plus of identifying all sorts of plants and animals. The app, which has a very active and committed user based has been so successful that species that had never been seen before have now been found. The ap started as a research project and will now live on as a nonprofit thanks to a generous donation. Here’s to studying the world through citizen science!
Data from iNaturalist have been used in more than 4,000 research publications, and users have identified new species through browsing its observations. “We have a better understanding of current biodiversity than we have ever had because of iNaturalist—hands down,” says Young. In total, more than 2.8 million observers have uploaded more than 150 million verifiable observations to iNaturalist, and in July, an average of 124 observations were uploaded per minute.
Every month, around 350,000 people record observations. But Loarie recalls a time when he considered 50 regular iNaturalist users a triumph. Like any critter on its site, iNaturalist has gone through a number of life stages.
The people who make decisions to continue us on a path of climate catastrophe have names and addresses. We need to shame people who are actively engage in profiteering off of killing every living thing on the planet, and that’s exactly what Environmental Defence has started to do. They have created a list of the Canada’s climate villains – those in positions of power that delay climate action and/or encouraging more environmental destruction. The good news about this is that Canadians who care about the climate are upping their game to call out those that are profiting from our demise. The more climate action we take the better – we only have one planet so let’s not burn it down!
Canada’s climate villains:
Canada’s Oil and Gas industry has long been the biggest barrier to climate action. Despite the harmful impacts that people in Canada and around the world are suffering daily from the warming climate and lack of action, the oil and gas industry continues to spew pollution and rake in record profits and receive billions in government subsidies. We are done taking the blame as individuals. The time to expose the true climate villains is now!
You’re likely thinking “oh no, not another political thing about snowflakes”, but I assure you this one is different. These snowflakes are conceptual and not the stereotype of a right winger getting mad because they saw a beer commercial. When it comes to organizing people to get a political movement going the snowflake method is one that is tried and true from the time of Obama to just last week in Toronto.
Bowman said Ganz’ method emphasizes “snowflake model organizing” or “engagement organizing” to keep volunteers plugged in.
In the centre of the snowflake is the main organizer, who is surrounded by a handful of people who are “key leads.” Then a ball of people are positioned around each person, and a further ball of people around them, she said.
She said people might come in to do one task, are encouraged, and then moved to another.
“The idea is you move up this ladder of engagement … as people start to demonstrate leadership you move them into leadership positions,” she said.
The importance of less exciting tasks are also explained so people derive meaning from their work, she said.