Improving climate change communications: moving beyond scientific certainty

The University of Nottingham has just blogged a great piece which reaffirms the challenge of engaging more effectively on the causes and effects of climate change and how to help people understand what they can do to mitigate and adapt to climate change now and in the future. My experience is this is a really tough thing to achieve. Unless somebody has direct experience of the effects of climate change (such as a flood, or heatwave or similar) they fail to believe it will have any effect in their lifetime.

Dr Pearce says: “Climate science draws on evidence over hundreds of years, way outside of our everyday experience. During the press conference, scientists attempted to supplement this rather abstract knowledge by emphasising a short-term example: that the decade from 2001 onwards was the warmest that had ever been seen. On the surface, this appeared a reasonable communications strategy.

“Unfortunately, a switch to shorter periods of time made it harder to dismiss media questions about short-term uncertainties in climate science, such as the so-called ‘pause’ in the rate of increase in global mean surface temperature since the late 1990s. The fact that scientists go on to dismiss the journalists’ concerns about the pause – when they themselves drew upon a similar short-term example – made their position inconsistent and led to confusion within the press conference.”

This short termism and, for want of a better expression, disbelief, meant it was incredibly difficult to engage decision makers, let alone the general public, in this debate. DEFRA, for the UK Government, has plenty of evidence and data about the causes and effects of climate change but they have been unable to help people understand what it means for them as individuals, communities, businesses.

Expertise in the field of social marketing does exist. The last Government’s ‘Nudge Unit’ acknowledged this but was often met with a cynical ‘Big Brother’ stance. But look at the good work that has happened in the field of health (@divacreative) and climate change () as examples of where it does work – but you need to take a long term and sustained view to achieve it.

The full press release is here and a blog by Warren Pearce is here:

Parag Khanna: Mapping the future of countries | Talk Video | TED.com

Parag Khanna: Mapping the future of countries | Talk Video | TED.com.

Many people think the lines on the map no longer matter, but Parag Khanna (@paragkhanna ) says they do. Using maps of the past and present, he explains the root causes of border conflicts worldwide and proposes simple yet cunning solutions for each.

This is taking political and economic geograpahy to a new level – you can see examples to illustrate @paragkhanna ‘s talk everyday. Having just spent two weeks in Greece, even there you can see how the German ‘lifeline’ has seen a growth in German cars on the highways of Hellas and a flood of Russian tourists lifting the economy. Between them, Russia and Germany, are running Greece.

I’d highly recommend you watch this excellent Ted.com talk – it will change your view on political boundaries and solutions to conflicts.

Simon Anholt: Which country does the most good for the world?

Simon Anholt: Which country does the most good for the world? | Talk Video | TED.com.

Just got round to watching the policy advisor, Simon Anholt, on TED.COM who has dreamed up an unusual scale to get governments thinking outwardly: The Good Country Index. In a riveting and funny talk, he answers the question, “Which country does the most good?”

Globalisation means a greater need for global solutions to global challenges underpinned by collaboration. Will you vote for politicians who will support this agenda?

Simon Anholt: Which country does the most good for the world? | Talk Video | TED.com.