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On a rainy Cambridge night, a couple MIT students met up with science writer John Bohannon for an informal “science communications happy hour” at the Miracle of Science near MIT. Amid conversations about how to communicate about climate change to the public, what the greatest science communications challenges are, and how John got to where he’s at (a freelance science journalist who writes for publications including Science Magazine and Discover Magazine), some great ideas emerged. For example: what about developing an online calculator that communities and individuals can use to estimate the costs of climate change damage on their community, based upon real climate change projections and economic data?

It might be a while before we, or anyone else for that matter, invent that tool. But the take away is clear: great ideas can come out of informal conversations among like-minded people with a passion for using science to inform better decision-making.