Effective Communication about Global Climate Change

by Riley Hoffman

In the most recent rendition of their article “Communicating climate change: conduits, content, and consensus”, Pearce, Brown, Nerlich, and Koteyko discuss the importance of the way that people like scientists and policy makers are portraying global climate change. In order to be most effective, they must understand how the general population is receiving their information, how they are likely to react based on what is being said, and how likely it is that they will believe it.

Times truly have changed in the world since 2009, when the first edition of their article came out, especially in the way that most people receive their information. People now have of access to finding out about anything at the touch of a button. Social media plays an important roll in the scientific world for scientists, as they are able to confer with one another to further their research and to better understand the findings of others. On the down side, when the public has access to all of this information, they can draw inaccurate conclusions. Even though there is almost unlimited access to the research being done on global climate change, there are still people who don’t believe in it. This is fueled by social media, combating the necessary fight to help slow down climate change.

Policy makers, scientists and government employees need to be better at providing information in a way that will be accepted and effective. An important aspect of relaying information to the public is what to say. While most people will agree with the conclusions that the IPCC have found, some will not. By adjusting small words like “global warming” to “climate change” more people may accept the information given. Similarly, if the speaker redirects the focus to something like policy or bettering the lives of many people as apposed to lecturing on the scary effects of climate change more people are likely to believe what is being said.

The article also discusses the importance of increasing the amount of information being given to the public about climate change. Using the information in the article about understanding the audience, speakers will gain more trust and thus, be able to effectively communicate the severity of the effects of global climate change. To conclude their article, the authors discuss looking into the future, and note that it is hard to foresee what people will do, although it is imperative to do everything possible now in hopes that they will start changing their actions in respect to helping the environment.

Pearce, W., Brown B., Nerlich, B., Koteyko, N., 2015. Communicating climate change: conduits, content, and consensus. WIREs Climate Change. 613-626.


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