by Fenja De Silva-Schmidt
How to mobilize citizens, politicians and companies for climate action? Often, knowledge about climate change – or more precisely, a lack of knowledge – is seen as a crucial factor. Basic facts on climate change and climate politics are indeed unknown to a large share of the population. However, ‘educating the public’ is not as easy as one might think – and may even be not that crucial for climate protection. Here’s what I’ve learnt from studying the topic for almost a decade.
When I started my master’s thesis in 2014, I had a traditional model of science communication in my mind: information about scientific and political topics is spread, e.g. by the media, so that the people can learn from it and fill in their “knowledge deficit” (see e.g. Tayeebwa et al 2022). Then, the new knowledge leads them to rethink their attitudes and change their behaviour. Since then, I’ve learnt not only that this model is outdated, but also that human learning and behaviour is much more complex.
Continue reading Do people learn about climate change?
by Felix Schaumann
How do we think about climate futures ahead of us? Different actors tend to use different tools for that. The stream of weather catastrophes in the news media suggests a rather gloomy future. Some recent novels try to paint a more optimistic picture of the decades ahead (see our post on this).
International climate politics, for its part, has mainly based visions of the future on IPCC scenarios and model projections. For example, integrated assessment models (IAMs) played an important role in highlighting the feasibility of limiting global warming to 2 or even 1.5 degrees, and thereby led the way to the Paris Agreement. At the same time, this policy ambition came at the expense of modelling huge quantities of negative emission technologies, which again had a strong influence on the climate policy discourse.
Clearly, model-based climate futures are important for climate politics, but it is far from obvious what goes into them and based on which premises they are devised. Lisette van Beek tried to shine some light on fundamental questions about IAMs by teaming up with artists Ekaterina Volkova and Julien Thomas and writing an IAM manual.
Continue reading Can Art Make (Climate) Models Better?
by Marina Joubert & Lars Guenther
There is a growing demand for public engagement with science. However, many scientists lack training and experience in this form of science communication. Find out more about how and why public engagement may benefit you and your research.
In his book ‘The Engaged Scholar – Expanding the Impact of Academic Research in Today’s World’ (2021, Stanford University Press), Andrew J. Hoffman, Professor of Sustainable Enterprise at the University of Michigan, challenges academics to answer this question: Why did you choose to become a researcher?
Hoffman believes that most researchers want to make a positive difference in the world. This is only possible, he contends, when they value public engagement with science and actively take part in engagement activities. Continue reading Including Public Voices in Scientific Research – Challenges, Prospects, and Pathways
by Felix Schaumann
“Are we screwed?”, “How bad is it gonna get?” – these are the questions that I most frequently get when I mention that I am in climate science. Newspaper coverage of a recent perspective article in PNAS seemed to suggest that we are actually headed towards a global catastrophe with potential extinction and that we know dangerously little about it: “Climate endgame: risk of human extinction ‘dangerously underexplored’ – Scientists say there are ample reasons to suspect global heating could lead to catastrophe”, or “We Are Not Freaking Out Enough About Climate Change”.
This media coverage has led other researchers to criticize the underlying article for being too gloomy – they argue it scares the public and overemphasizes the likelihood of catastrophic climate change. Continue reading Climate Endgame – How to Research and Communicate Extreme Climate Risks?
by Simone Rödder
In recent years, a new wave of climate activist groups, such as Extinction Rebellion, Fridays for Future and the Sunrise Movement have reshaped public debates on climate action. In so doing they refer to scientific evidence. But, how exactly do they understand science’s relationship to society? Drawing on documentary evidence, our recent study argues that the use of evidence by these groups, especially the reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), reflects an effective form of science communication, albeit one that leaves hierarchies of scientific knowledge largely intact.
“Unite behind the Science!” and “Tell the Truth!” are among the familiar slogans of the school-striking young activists inspired by Greta Thunberg and Extinction Rebellion. The new climate movements’ call to listen to science has become almost emblematic; it was printed, for example, on the sailboat Greta Thunberg used to cross the Atlantic in September 2019. But what do they actually mean by “science”? Continue reading Telling the Truth, Uniting Behind the Science – Climate Coalitions and Science’s Place in Society
Not only in photography do choice of angle and frame decide what we see. Photo by Ludovic Charlet, Pixabay.
By Susan Jörges
Framing of climate change in local newspapers considerably influences how citizens perceive climate change in their living environment. A master thesis entitled “Global climate change in local journalism” takes a closer look at the main source of local media frames: cognitive frames from local journalists. This article summarizes the main results and presents six implications for improving local climate change reporting. Continue reading Global Climate Change in Local Journalism: How to Make Local Journalists Rethink Their Framing
(English summary below)
Die aktuelle Ausgabe der Zeitschrift Communicatio Socialis versammelt diverse interessante Beiträge zum Thema Nachhaltigkeitskommunikation. Das Plädoyer darin: Nachhaltigkeit geht alle an, und auch Journalismus und Wissenschaft können sich nicht länger auf einen distanzierten Beobachterstatus zurückziehen.
Die Zeitschrift ist leider nicht frei lesbar. Für alle, die keinen Zugang zum Journal haben, sind hier drei Beiträge verfügbar – siehe hinterlegte Links:
„Plädoyer für eine bescheidene Weltverbesserung. Transformativer Journalismus und transformative Kommunikationswissenschaft“ (Michael Brüggemann)
„Nachhaltigkeit kultivieren. Öffentliche Kommunikation über Umwelt, Klima, nachhaltige Entwicklung und Transformation“ (Franzisca Weder)
„Transformation und Wiederverortung. Herausforderungen angesichts Klimanotstand und Artensterben“ (Torsten Schäfer)
Zur gesamten Ausgabe (Paywall): Communicatio Socialis (ComSoc), Jahrgang 55 (2022), Heft 2
Continue reading Nachhaltigkeit geht alle an – drei Beiträge zum Thema Nachhaltigkeitskommunikation
By Felix Schaumann
RCP-8.5 is not only the arguably most popular climate change scenario, it is also often framed in a very specific manner: as the business-as-usual trajectory that humanity is on if no climate change policies are adopted.
For an academic discipline that actively tries to be policy-relevant, climate science in the context of the IPCC is often weirdly inaccessible. An example of this is the rather cryptic naming of climate scenarios that form the backbone of IPCC reports and many climate modelling studies: names range from SSP1-1.9 to SSP5-8.5. A specific element of these mysterious scenarios – the so-called RCP-8.5 – has been the focus of a rather fierce academic debate.
Yet, more than being a somewhat nerdy scientific debate, the controversy around RCP-8.5 actually points to some fundamental disagreements about the communication of climate futures. Continue reading RCP-8.5: Business-As-Usual or Unrealistic Worst-Case? The contested interpretation of climate change scenarios
By Marina Falke
The 6th IPCC Report of Working Group 3 was published just about two months ago, on April 4, and stated once more and in further detail the urgency to mitigate climate change. As known, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) consists of politicians and scientist of the United Nation, grouped in three working groups focusing on different aspects of climate change. The third working group specializes in climate change mitigation and presents sources of global emissions as well as developments in emission reduction and mitigation efforts. Despite the great importance of the report’s findings, neither sufficient media coverage nor meaningful political reaction have yet materialized. Why is the gap between climate change’s urgency and action on it still so wide? Continue reading Why Don’t We Act Now? The discrepancy between climate change awareness and action
by Amelia Peach
Still very much in the midst of the COVID-19 Pandemic, 2021 saw climate change continue its fight for public attention. Although still not quite able to match 2019’s daily average tweet count of 1429, with an average of only 1237 daily tweets, 2021 did see the top 3 highest peak days yet.
Continue reading Climate Attention on Twitter: 2021 breaks attention records