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“It’s startling to know there are individuals on the brink of adulthood who have spent their entire lives in a climate that, largely due to human activity, is vastly different from the one their parents experienced growing up.” – RACHEL LICKER, a senior climate scientist at the Union of Concerned Scientists, a research and advocacy group, after learning that last year was one of the warmest on record. (New York Times quote of the day, Friday, January 18, 2018.


These days, most of us get our news from trusted sources, and the New York Times is of course at the top of many lists. But in the 21st century, on-line is the preferred means of access. As a result, I might perhaps buy at most 3-4 print editions of the New York Times a year. Can’t ever remember looking at the third page… or ever, ever looking at the quote of the day. But I did all three of those things this particular morning – and happened across today’s entry, this from one of the AMS Summer Policy Colloquium alums, from our 2012 group.

2014 Colloquium participants

What are the odds?

And what a great statement! Take the time to parse it; let it sink in. Dr. Licker introduces the climate change topic as science, but couches it in terms of human agency and impact. Her words reach out to all generations, remind us of our individual responsibility and role, yet in a compelling but non-pejorative way[1]. Whether this was a carefully crafted, rehearsed statement she’s used many times, not just with the reporter, or whether the words came to her in an inspired instant, this is definitely quote-of-the-day stuff. We’re all better off for having heard it.

And speaking of the AMS Summer Policy Colloquium, perhaps this is the year you should participate. Are you an early- to mid-career scientist? Do you aspire to do great science, but also take your science a step further? Effectively engage in the policy process and the public conversation about the implications of science and how science adds to the world’s store of coping strategies?

Numerous groups and organizations stand ready to give you quick half-day instruction on messaging to policymakers and various publics as a manipulative technique, maybe take you for a brief round of Congressional visits.

The AMS Summer Policy Colloquium takes a different approach. We put you and some 30-40 of your peers in a setting where you meet for a ten day-and-night experience with scientists who have embedded themselves for years in the policy process – who are working as staffers on the Hill, or serving as members of Congress, or leading federal agencies at the policy level. They’ll invest in you, help you understand before you seek to be understood, put you on the path to building the personal and professional relationships that are the most effective foundation in the policy process. Your peers will be scientists like Rachel (who came as a graduate student), or university faculty, or engineers from aerospace companies, or government scientists, weather forecasters, geologists, hydrologists, climatologists, and more. You’ll join a network of over 600 scientists who have taken this step as a means for being more effective in their job, or as a step for following in the footsteps of Colloquium speakers: working at NGO’s like UCS, or on the Hill, or in government agencies. Interested in something a bit more unusual? Some have worked in an embassy here in DC, or at Brookings, or gone on to found the Capital Weather Gang; to take jobs as emergency managers, at the National Academies of Science, in state-level environmental protection agencies; to start their own firms, or work abroad. You’ll meet special people like Rachel, and they’ll meet special people like you.

Get the idea? Find it energizing? Want to join us June 3-12, 2018 here in Washington, DC? Now is the time to sign up. Look for more detail, including how to register, and possibilities for financial support on the Colloquium page of the AMS website. We’re still coming up to speed on some of the 2018 details, so if you don’t find the answer to a question, or want some clarification, reach out to me at hooke@ametsoc.org. Want to do a bit more checking first? Work through the list of our prior participants to find someone you know; then reach out to them for a critical review.


[1]Those who know Rachel from her Colloquium experience, or subsequent work at the U.S. State Department, or now at UCS, would confirm that this is who she is, this is vintage Rachel: positive, thoughtful, useful.

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