Over the last year or so, a group of us – including academics from the National Centre for Atmospheric Science (NCAS) and Leeds, Manchester Met and Cardiff Universities, as well as the climate charities 10:10 and Climate Outreach – have been taking stock of what we know about public engagement with climate change, and how to communicate about it in the most effective way, through the ‘Climate Communication Project (CCP)’. Continue reading “What’s next for the Climate Communication Project?”
Everyone likes a story. Stories have a uniquely captivating effect on the mind that transcends the boundaries of language and culture; if two people from opposite sides of the world read the same story translated into completely different languages, their brains undergo the same patterns of activity as they visualise the story and are carried through its emotional ups and downs. Research, on the other hand, operates in a language that is far from universal. It’s a major barrier to communication between researchers and the public, making people feel shut out from vital discussions. If we are to tackle global issues like climate change, we need ways to break down these barriers and engage people in a language they understand.
An interesting article in Nature last year, by scientist and journalist Anita Makri, described how science communicated in the popular media sometimes leaves the public confused, and that in the ‘post-truth’ world, scientists are increasingly being ignored. Makri criticised what’s known as the ‘deficit model’ of the public understanding of science concluding that it’s partly scientists’ fault that they are being ignored. The message is clear. Scientists need to be less technical and perhaps even a bit more humble when putting over their messages. Over the last year at the British Geological Survey (BGS), we’ve been putting this theory into practice communicating our major UK Geoenergy Observatories investment to the public.