Communication Challenges

Semantics "Very Likely" a Problem in IPCC Communications

The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the leading international organization for assembling and disseminating information about climate change, apparently has a language problem.  Authors of a recent study found that lay people around the world frequently misinterpret IPCC terminology that describes the probability of future climate change.  The IPCC uses probability statements with associated…

Semantics "Very Likely" a Problem in IPCC Communications

The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the leading international organization for assembling and disseminating information about climate change, apparently has a language problem.  Authors of a recent study found that lay people around the world frequently misinterpret IPCC terminology that describes the probability of future climate change.

The IPCC uses probability statements with associated likelihood values ranging from 1% to 99% to describe the strength of their data and conclusions.  Relying on terms like “exceptionally unlikely,” “about as like…

Aerosol Sulfates. A Free Geoengineered Lunch?

In 1896 Svante Arrhenius published On the Influence of Carbonic Acid in the Air upon the Temperature of the Ground which laid out the foundation of how carbon dioxide affects global climate.  His suggestion that global coal production (then 500 million tons per year) could be so disruptive has been verified, hastened by soaring fossil fuel consumption, including a 17-fold increase in coal…

Climate Change: Does Experience Shape Beliefs? Or Is It Vice Versa?

People’s views on climate change, whether believers or deniers, can be strongly entrenched and fiercely defended. But how do people’s views on climate change develop in the first place? Does personal experience with potentially climate change-related events (e.g., hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, droughts) shape people’s views on climate change (“experiential learning”), or do prior beliefs inform people’s interpretations of such events (“motivated reasoning”)? This intriguing chicken-or-egg question has recently been investigated in a paper by Myers and colleagues.

Using Google to Track the Effects of Climate Change

The internet’s vast quantities of information and its popularity among people all over the globe represent a tempting and enormous data pool for researchers. Political strategists, economists, and epidemiologists mine internet usage data to learn about human behaviors and cultural trends, producing interesting results (though sometimes flawed; see Butler 2013). Could scientists who study climate change use similar online data-mining tools to better understand and track the effects of climate change? A recent paper by Proulx and colleagues argues just that.

When Fracking Comes to Town: Pace University's 14th Annual Land Use Conference (Panel Discussion)

Resiliency is the theme of Pace University’s upcoming 15th annual land use conference.   Defined as “ how systems and settlements stand up to shock from the outside…”1, resiliency is an appropriate organizational concept for a panel discussion on how communities might respond to the potentially shocking discovery of rich stores of gas shale beneath their land.

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