Two of the most influential climate scientists in the world would like to raise a glass with you.
Steven Ghan and Phil Rasch, both based in Richland, were named to the latest international list compiled by Clarivate Analytics in the category of scientists whose atmospheric research has been cited most often by other scientists.
They will be the first two speakers in a monthly Tri-City series launching Monday called Climate Science on Tap.
The idea is to allow members of the public to talk and have a beer — or glass of hard cider — with one of the climate scientists the Tri-Cities has in abundance.
The first Climate Science on Tap event will be at 7 p.m. at d's Wicked Cider House, 9312 W. 10th Ave., Kennewick.
Many of the planned speakers for the series, like Ghan and Rasch, work at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. But the conversations they plan at Tri-City breweries are independent of the Department of Energy national lab in Richland.
"The public is clearly quite confused about the science of climate change, even though the dominant human role in the recent warming is widely accepted by the scientific community," Ghan said.
Only about 50 percent of the U.S. public agree that global warming is primarily caused by human activity, Ghan said.
Surprised that more of the public has not accepted the science, Ghan has been working for about five years to increase understanding of climate change and to promote better science literacy.
He blames a disinformation campaign, started by the oil companies and now carried on by the coal companies, for public skepticism.
There also is a contingent of people who prefer not to be regulated, Rasch said.
Ghan says that more information may not persuade people about the human role in climate change, but that building trust may.
That's why they want to meet in the social setting of breweries for a short talk and then a conversation with people who are interested in knowing more.
"One thing I'm sensitive to is ... I don't want to come across as this intellectual scientist wanting to lecture the public," Rasch said. "(But) perhaps where confusion exists, we can try to resolve some of those problems."
He's testified before Congress and served on panels conducting international assessments of climate change.
But it is not enough, he said.
"The only way change will occur is if local citizens care about it enough for politicians to want to pay attention to what they are saying," he said.
There are implications of the science that require changes to energy production and transportation, and that will not happen without establishing federal policy, even though some people will make changes voluntarily, Ghan said.
"It need not be onerous," he said. "Some policies could actually benefit the economy."
He supports a national revenue-neutral carbon fee and dividend.
The proposal would put a price on fossil fuels at the source — whether mines, wells or imports — with the revenue collected returned as an equal dividend to every resident.
When Ghan participated in the Water, Wind and Fire Tour statewide last year to discuss climate change and the economy, he said an analysis of the economic impact of that solution shows that the revenue returned to the economy would stimulate many types of new jobs and grow the economy by 2 million jobs.
As scientific confidence grows that the climate change being observed today is connected to an increase in greenhouse gases, it's a matter of prudence to change policies, Rasch said.
"Just as you take out insurance to guard against fire in your home, you would want to begin to make use of policies that would reduce our dependence on technologies which are certain to be dangerous," he said.
The basic physics that adding carbon dioxide to the atmosphere causes the planet to warm has been known for 100 years, Rasch said.
Where the uncertainty lies is in the many feedbacks in the Earth's system that could counteract the warming. But climate scientists believe those things that amplify the warming are larger than those things that counteract it, he said.
Ghan said he told one doubter that the skeptic might be right and Ghan might be wrong about human-cased climate change.
"But there is a chance I am right and we should take out an insurance policy," Ghan said. "It's a matter of risk management."
For people concerned about climate change, Rasch recommends joining or supporting an organization that cares about climate change.
"If enough people join forces we can do things we cannot do as individuals," he said.
Ghan said that for most people their largest greenhouse gas emissions, unless they fly frequently, is their vehicle. He recommends looking at fuel efficiency and considering a hybrid car when you are ready to replace your car.
The schedule and locations for future Climate on Tap events in the Tri-Cities will be announced after the first meeting.