Academy Article
March 2024

Academy Climate Project Reaches New Audiences at AAAS Conference


The Academy highlighted its climate action work at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). For more than a decade, the Academy has participated in this conference, which convenes diverse attendees, from high school students to doctoral candidates, policymakers, science communicators, and science fans of all kinds. This year’s theme, “Toward Science Without Walls,” provided an opportunity to highlight the interdisciplinary, bipartisan approach that guides the Academy’s work and shaped its climate Commission. 

The conference is helmed by Academy members, including outgoing AAAS president Keith Yamamoto (University of California, San Francisco), AAAS board chair Gilda Barabino (Olin College of Engineering), and AAAS CEO Sudip Parikh. Director of AAAS’s SEA Change initiative promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion, Shirley Malcom, also co-chaired the 2021 Academy report Global Connections: Emerging Science Partners. Additionally, Academy member Katharine Hayhoe was in attendance to receive the Mani L. Bhaumik Award for Public Engagement with Science. 

This was the first AAAS conference since the release of the Commission to Accelerate Climate Action’s report Forging Climate Solutions: How to Accelerate Action Across America and it presented an exciting opportunity to bring the report to new audiences. Staff were joined by Commission on Accelerating Climate Action member L. Kealoha Fox (Institute for Climate and Peace) to present the workshop “Finding Consensus for Climate Action and Beyond.” 

Academy Presence at AAAS Conference 2024
Academy staff Carson Bullock (left), Leo Curran (right) and Commission on Accelerating Climate Action member L. Kealoha Fox (center) answered questions on Academy publications on nuclear security, climate change, economic opportunity for all, mental health, and international scientific partnerships. Photo by Kelsey Schuch.

The workshop prepared attendees to take on the role of a commission member, facilitator, or convener to find strategies to prevent common threats to consensus processes like partisanship, miscommunication, and hierarchy. Though the climate project served as a valuable case study in communicating across differences, these struggles are not unique to any one policy domain. Attendees attested from their own experiences in university administration, organized labor, and scientific research that in a polarized political environment, consensus-building is difficult, but may be more vital than ever before. 

The Academy workshop was one of many conference offerings that echoed the Forging Climate Solutions findings. One plenary session was a panel on the rising health impacts of global warming, from stillbirth to dengue to chronic kidney disease. Health is emphasized in the Academy report as a means for communicators to ground climate change messages in relatable, human-centered ways. Other conference presentations centered on supporting co-developing research with Indigenous communities, misinformation, and sustainable farming, all in alignment with the report’s recommendations. 

Participation in AAAS is part of a broader outreach strategy that involves building relationships at all levels of government, industry, and the philanthropic community. Outreach for Forging Climate Solutions and its recommendations will continue through summer 2024.