Ten days ago, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, known as the IPCC, published their latest report. Their findings move us decisively from climate change as “coming soon” to climate change is “here and now”. The planet is changing irrevocably. Even as politicians and industry continue to fumble with mitigation, adaptation is necessarily underway. Many species have already failed to survive in the changing conditions. The report confirms that these changes will accelerate and expand their reach in the years ahead. We can still bend this arc of human history, but decades have been lost to self-interest and denial.
If much harm has been done, we still can make a huge positive difference to the choices our children and grandchildren will face. We need the science and analysis offered by the IPCC to protect those choices. Yet one of the most destructive forms self-interest took in the climate debates was the decision by certain vested interests to systematically undermine the credibility of scientific inquiry, by planting lies, paying for false results and burying evidence. Wealthy individuals, corporations and even some governments colluded to spread doubt and apathy about the fact and consequences of anthropomorphic climate change.
One of the weaknesses that climate deniers exploited was the challenge decisionmakers have in determining best policy when the science is incomplete. The vested interests behind fossil fuels spent millions denying that climate change was real. They gambled, correctly, that it would be enough to sow doubt and confusion about the science to block efforts to impose effective caps on greenhouse gas emissions. That is one of the reasons IATP exists: We are a politically-engaged nonprofit that analyzes and synthesizes current research to improve policy outcomes and recommendations. Even when the science is imperfect, policymakers have choices to make. It is the business of political parties, social movements and civil society organizations to shape those choices. The more access we have to current academic research, the better equipped we are to guide policy decisions.
In 2020, IATP received a grant from the Tiny Beam Fund’s Fueling Advocates Initiative. This grant supported IATP’s program work on the industrial livestock sector, specifically funding staff research and advocacy capacity. The initiative funds nonprofits’ use of critical academic research in their policy work. The program was developed in recognition of the role that organizations like IATP play at the science-policy interface. IATP bridges research with policy analysis and communications. The organization has a long history of research and advocacy built on a rich body of peer-reviewed academic publications. Tiny Beam Fund’s initiative not only supported IATP in continuing that work but encouraged IATP staff to increase our engagement with academic institutions. Learn more about the work that resulted from this partnership.