As a press secretary at the Union of Concerned Scientists, I’m occasionally quoted in the press. In my ongoing effort to impress friends and relatives and establish Google dominance for “Aaron Huertas,” I will link to those articles here. Occasionally, I may also highlight articles that I did a lot of work to promote as well as citations from other ventures in my capacity as Private Citizen Aaron Huertas.
On October 21, 2013, I was quoted by National Geographic regarding the effects of the government shutdown on scientific work.
On September 25, 2013, I presented findings from a climate change workshop at the National Academy of Sciences second conference on the Science of Science Communication.
On December 21, 2012, I participated in a panel discussion on Thom Hartmann’s “The Big Picture.”
On November 2, 2011, FoxNews.com quoted me regarding a “book” that attacks a climate science body.
Aaron Huertas, spokesman for the Union of Concerned Scientists, told FoxNews.com that age is irrelevant and shouldn’t impact the conclusions of the major scientific work.
“Attacking scientists based on their age instead of their work is misleading and more than a little offensive to younger researchers,” Huertas said. “The IPCC’s materials are thoroughly vetted by many scientists and are open to public comment, too.”
Regardless, scientists agree about climate change, Huertas argued.
On October 6, 2011, I attended a National Archives event about how broken Congress is and asked a question. I felt the panel had done a good job describing the problem and outlining some solutions, but didn’t really address what could be done to make those solutions a reality. Some of the Former Members of Congress and other panelists, it turned out, had some good suggestions.
On August 16, 2011, Scientific American ran a piece by a great independent journalist named Douglas Fischer. He quoted me regarding the cropping up of a new anti-science group on climate change.
“Every country has its own home-grown marriage of folks who are skeptical of the science and the ideological groups who just don’t want regulation,” said Aaron Huertas, spokesman for the Union of Concerned Scientists.
“The playing field is a little bit uneven. To succeed all they have to do is give people an excuse, give them a little grain of doubt, and they’re done.”
On July 2011, the Washington Post published a letter from Private Citizen Aaron Huertas about one of my main gripe with their paper: Their 5 Myths feature.
I found the Business section’s variation on The Post’s popular “5 Myths” feature refreshing [“5 Truths about the deficit and the debt,” July 17]. Communications scholars have found that features like the Outlook section’s “5 Myths” often aren’t the best way to correct misconceptions. By placing the myths in short, bold-face sentences followed by relatively dense paragraphs explaining why those myths are wrong, it’s likely The Post is unintentionally reinforcing those very myths.
The Post’s Shankar Vedantam wrote about a study that quantified the effect of typical myth vs. fact presentations [“Persistence of Myths Could Alter Public Policy Approach,” Sept. 4, 2007]. When a social scientist had subjects read a flier produced by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that took a typical myth-busting approach, 28 percent of the older subjects remembered false statements as true just 30 minutes after reading the flier. “Three days later,” The Post reported, “they remembered 40 percent of the myths as factual.”
The Business desk was right to conspicuously drop the myths and instead focus on “5 Truths” about the debt. That’s the right approach for clearing up disinformation that passes for political discourse.
I hope your other writers will emulate the “truth and only the truth” approach the Business desk took.
Aaron Huertas, Washington
On Dec 3, 2010, I spoke to FoxNews.com for a story in which my views were juxtaposed with those of a few climate contrarians. Definitely one of my favorite headlines.
Even those who believe man’s actions are raising the planet’s temperature admit that the U.N.’s climate group has struggled. “It’s been a tough year for the IPCC,” Aaron Huertas, a spokesman for the Union of Concerned Scientists, told FoxNews.com.
He believes the organization is learning from its mistakes, as well as the suggestions of the group that publicly detailed its flaws just a few month ago. “To its credit, the IPCC is taking recommendations from the InterAcademy Council to heart, and I think their future reports will be better for it,” he said.
And Huertas defended the group and its work with language just as loudly as the climate skeptics criticized it.
“Groups that oppose action on climate change spend a lot of time attacking the IPCC. But they never attack the National Academy of Sciences, even though they are making the same basic points.”
Nevertheless, Huertas said the science is sound … depending on whom you listen to, of course.
“I follow the skeptical blogs, and most of what’s on there I wouldn’t even call science,” he said. “A lot of it is just politics. At the end of the day, I ask people: ‘Who do you trust? A pundit on the radio talking about climate science or the scientists at NASA?'”
“I’m going with the scientists at NASA,” Huertas said.
On November 22, Dan Vergano of USA Today interviewed me regarding the impact of a Congressional report attacking a climate scientist.
“The report was integral to congressional hearings about climate scientists,” says Aaron Huertas of the Union of Concerned Scientists in Washington, D.C. “And it preceded a lot of conspiratorial thinking polluting the public debate today about climate scientists.”
On October 21, I was honored to be interviewed by Public Radio International’s The World regarding a report on automaker emissions my organization released. This was quite rare, since normally the report authors would do all interviews. But they were both unavailable and The World is such an excellent program, so I went for it. One of the nice things about public radio is that skillful editing can make you sound way smarter than you do in person.
On September 23, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette interviewed me regarding Joe Bastardi’s climate change views.
“He’s among a minority of meteorologists, mostly on television, who say these things and who don’t have expertise in what’s happening with our climate from a long-range perspective,” said Aaron Huertas, a spokesman for the Union of Concerned Scientists. “It’s about as valid as a climate scientist criticizing Mr. Bastardi’s annual hurricane predictions.”
On September 11, the Washington Post published a letter I wrote complaining about their uncritical use of the “Face on Mars” picture:
Marc Kaufman’s excellent Sept. 4 front-page article regarding new research into life on Mars [“Not ‘life’ but maybe ‘organics’ on Mars”] was oddly accompanied by a picture of the so-called Face on Mars taken by Viking 1 in 1976. The late Carl Sagan and other scientists long pointed out how shadows cast over the rock formation produced its face-like appearance in the photo. Subsequent higher-resolution photos of the rock formation taken by the Mars Global Surveyor in 2001 and the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter in 2006 reveal that the rock is hardly face-like at all.
While visually interesting, such rock formations reveal more about humans’ intrinsic ability to recognize faces, even when there are none, than they do about the existence of intelligent extraterrestrial life. The rock formation on Mars is more like New Hampshire’s now-collapsed Old Man in the Mountain than like Mount Rushmore.
The prospect of finding microbial life on Mars is exciting enough. The Face on Mars has been long debunked and shouldn’t be mentioned alongside ongoing scientific research into extraterrestrial life.
Aaron Huertas, Washington
On July 19, the San Francisco Chronicle quoted my criticism of media coverage of emails stolen from climate scientists:
“The accusations were on A1, the exonerations are usually on A15,” said Aaron Huertas, press secretary for the Union of Concerned Scientists.
On July 16, a Scripps Howard News article quoted me at a fun event I helped put together where UCS and some other groups melted an ice sculpture near the Capitol:
The press secretary for the Union of Concerned Scientists, Aaron Huertas, compared the recent scandal to tobacco companies’ denial of a link between tobacco and lung cancer.
“People attack the science instead of debating the policies,” Huertas said.
On July 14, I was quoted in the Charlottesville Daily Progress ragging on Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli and climate contrarians generally:
Aaron Huertas, spokesman for the Union of Concerned Scientists, said Cuccinelli’s investigation into Mann is baseless and unnecessary.
“Mike Mann has had his name dragged through the mud for years,” Huertas said. “Every time someone looks into him, he comes back perfectly clean.”
Huertas said it is preposterous to believe that climate change is the result of a conspiracy by scientists such as Mann. “That’s the same type of thinking we see from people who don’t believe we landed on the moon,” he said.
On July 2, 2010, I was quoted in a Charlottesville Daily Progress article criticizing Virgina Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli’s investigation into climate scientist Michael Mann based on a review of one of his court filings I helped write:
“If you’re an attorney general investigating Mike Mann, you think you’d at least have the common courtesy of pinning the right accusation on him,” union spokesman Aaron Huertas said. Cuccinelli’s office declined to comment on the union’s analysis.
In November 2009, Newsweek ran a letter I wrote.
I was surprised to see Al Gore’s essay (“The Plan That Saved the Planet”) on the historic choices we face regarding energy and climate change followed by Karl Rove’s “Scrap Cap-and-Trade” piece attacking the leading legislative proposal to reduce carbon emissions. Rove’s essay repeats debunked claims about cap-and-trade systems and fails to offer an alternative method for significantly reducing carbon emissions to the levels scientists say are necessary. Rove’s opinion piece was an unworthy counterpoint to Gore’s serious call to action.Aaron Huertas Press Secretary, Union of Concerned Scientists Washington, D.C.
In October 2009, I worked with UCS climate scientists to counteract some misinformation in the book SuperFreakonomics.
- On Sunday, October 18, Stephen Dubner posted a response to the claim that he and Levitt misrepresented the views of one scientist, Ken Caldiera. UCS posted a response urging Dubner to publish a more thorough response to the many scientific misrepresentations the book makes. Meanwhile, Joe Romm responds to this particular claim on his blog.
- On October 20, Nathan Myhrvold responded to criticisms of the book and his quotes in it. UCS responded, pointing out that Myhrvold’s blog post, in which he states, “Geoengineering is proposed only as a last resort to try to reduce or cope with the even greater harms of global warming!” directly contradicts the main premise of the book’s chapter and his quotes in it.
- I attended an event at which Levitt and Dubner spoke and solicited a response from Dubner regarding geoengineering and answering their scientific critics. Dubner wrote about this on his blog and I responded accordingly.
In October 2009,Maclean’s quoted me regarding President Obama’s Nobel Peace Prize. It was Columbus Day.
The new standards would cut greenhouse gas emissions from new cars and light trucks 30 per cent by 2016. “This is the single biggest step the United States has ever taken to reduce oil consumption and emissions,” says Aaron Huertas, spokesman for the Union of Concerned Scientists, an environmental non-profit organization based in Cambridge, Mass…
Given that the House of Representatives has already passed a climate change bill, and that Obama has pledged to use the power of the Environmental Protection Agency to regulate major polluters if the Senate does not act, there is hope for a breakthrough. “That sort of progress is completely unprecedented,” says Huertas. But other countries are rightly skeptical of talk and good intentions from a country that produces one-quarter of world emissions. After all, Bill Clinton backed the Kyoto Protocol but never got it through the Senate. “The rest of the world needs to be able to see something concrete to be able to agree to an effective deal,” says Huertas.
In October 2009, ThinkProgress quoted me regarding an ongoing kerfuffle with the authors of SuperFreakonomics.
Melanie Fitzpatrick, one of the climate scientists on the Union of Concerned Scientists’ staff, produced a rebuttal of the SuperFreakonomics chapter which points out the many ways it misrepresents climate science. Our communications team simply passed this critique on to media outlets that were planning on covering the book, including NPR. Our organization believes it is incredibly important for scientists to accurately communicate climate science to the media and the public. UCS’s criticisms are valid and NPR rightfully recognized the value of informing their listeners that the book misrepresents climate science.
In September 2009 the town of Hurricane, Utah adopted a resolution opposing climate change legislation. Unfortunately, the towns’ resolution was based on a flawed understanding of climate science.The Salt Lake City Tribune quoted me in the end of the article:
Aaron Huertas, a spokesman for Union of Concerned Scientists, which is dedicated to finding environmental solutions to world problems, said government studies estimate the cost to the average consumer of proposed cap and trade legislation is about the price of a postage stamp a day.
“At the end of the day [cap and trade] makes polluters responsible for what they are putting in the air, where now they are not,” said Huertas.
He also disputed Hirschi’s characterization of global warming, saying research has shown global temperatures are rising in concert with the emission of greenhouse gases
“It’s an open and shut case with the scientific community,” said Huertas.
In August 2009, News Channel 8 asked vacationing private citizen Aaron Huertas, who was buying gear at Target, about a Bike Ambassador program in DC. He had this to say:
Area riders say it’s about time. “A bike is just the most efficient, the healthiest way to get around the city,” said rider Aaron Huertas.
But some say it’s also the most dangerous. “The more we can do to mitigate that danger, the greener and healthier the city will be,” said Huertas.
In July 2009, I worked with a scientist to rebut a misrepresentation of a climate science paper. Reuters thought this rapid rebuttal was interesting. I was very happy the reporter discussed the difference between being a “skeptic” which is awesome and being a “contrarian” which is decidedly less so.
Aaron Huertas has been in this game for a while, so he figured there might be problems as soon as he saw the headline on the release from Rice University: “Global warming: Our best guess is likely wrong.”…
But Huertas, press secretary at the Union of Concerned Scientists, figured the initial headline from Rice University might be used by those skeptical about climate change — he calls them contrarians because he feels all scientists are skeptical — to argue that the carbon dioxide generated by human activities isn’t to blame for global warming.
“We haven’t heard a member of Congress that opposes climate legislation incorrectly cite this study yet, but it’s probably only a matter of time,” Huertas said in an e-mail accompanying his non-profit group’s analysis of the study.He sees this as a matter of science education, made more difficult when those who oppose acting to curb climate change choose their own facts. “You’re dealing with an opposition movement that literally doesn’t care what the research is, they can just make stuff up,” Huertas told me.
In January 2009, Private Citizen Aaron Huertas submitted an idea to the President’s Briefing Book (pdf) at Change.gov. Thanks to the dedicated forum-goers at TwoPlusTwo.com my entry calling for the legalization of online poker was the top vote-getter in the Technology section. I still have a hard time believing President Obama might actually have read words that I wrote. Perhaps he has.
Boost America’s Economy with Legal Online Poker, 46890 points
Let online poker players in the United States play legally and without fear of prosecution. Reform the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act to exempt poker, a game of skill, from the law. Boost the economy by letting American companies and American players make money and pay taxes instead of sending online poker businesses offshore. Protect online poker players by regulating the industry to ensure that no one is ever cheated.
In August 2008, Clear Channel pulled down some advertisement UCS took out in the airports each political party was using for its national convention. The Rocky Mountain News quoted me on the removal:
Aaron Huertas, spokesman for the scientists group, said it is still “trying to figure out” why the DIA sign was removed.
“Obviously, we think the decision to take down both advertisements in both locations is unfortunate, because we were hoping people going to the conventions would be seeing these advertisements and thinking about nuclear weapons policy,” he said.
In November 2007, the Washington Post published a letter from me in my capacity as Private Citizen Aaron Huertas regarding acupuncture:
Regarding the “Making It” feature in the Nov. 18 Post Magazine:
I was dismayed that The Post would put its spotlight on a practitioner of acupuncture without noting the lack of scientific evidence for acupuncture’s effectiveness. Acupuncture, which involves poking a person with needles, is rooted in Chinese folk medicine and is based on the idea that such therapy “unblocks” spiritual energy in the body.
Scientific studies have not produced clear evidence in favor of acupuncture. Some people who submit themselves to acupuncture probably benefit from a placebo effect. For others, their ailments might have improved without any therapy, but they still attribute their recovery to acupuncture.
The article did note that the featured acupuncturist was frustrated by limitations that insurance companies place on acupuncture. But it failed to note that insurance companies view acupuncture skeptically because there is no clear evidence that it works.
In May 2006, I won a competition to speak at George Washington University’s commencement ceremony. The Washington Post noted the content of my (very short) speech.
GWU’s ceremony was mostly politics-free, despite the storied career of the featured speakers. Aaron Huertas, graduating with a bachelor of arts degree in political communication, gave a speech about the importance of using technology responsibly.
The speech itself is available on ITunes.
In May 2002, I delivered a speech at my highschool graduation in my capacity as senior class president. Friends tell me my Jersey accent tends to fade in and out now.