Wednesday, November 17, 2021

Fahrenheit v. Celsius and the US Citizen

Environmental & Science Education, STEM, Global Climate Change, Sustainability, Earth & Space Science, Earth Systems

Ed Hessler

I like and welcome the following advice, a plea in the name of more effective communication by Dr. J. Marshall Shepherd, a past president (2013) of the American Meteorological Society (AMS).

Shepherd thinks we speak a "'temperature language' that the American public does not understand. It is not a term that is a part of our everyday thinking for most Americans." Indeed, he notes that the metric system is one that "'Americans generally loathe."

Dr. Shepherd is a scientist "who publishes in the scientific literature where the standard expectation is to use the metric system and the Celsius or even Kelvin scales. Guess what? The American public is not reading the scientific literature or attending our conferences. The purpose of effective science communication is to translate the scholarly information in a manner that the public can consume" (my emphasis).

Dr. Shepherd's essay is found in Forbes which includes one photograph that dramatically shows the power as well as illustrates the confusion the two temperature systems pose for general U. S. readers.

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