Communication Challenges

Yale Environmental Sustainability Summit

How will our planet provide food, energy, and water for a growing population and as our climate changes? Can we develop more sustainable systems for producing and distributing food; drive towards lower carbon and GHG intensity in our economies; and effectively manage our increasingly scarce fresh water supplies and fragile ecosystems? How can efficiency and innovation help reduce our impact—while increasing our well-being? Can we scale up promising technologies and conservation practices to unlock unprecedented business and environmental opportunities?

Communicating Climate Change Health Impacts

There is overwhelming agreement from the scientific community regarding causes and impacts of climate change, while large segments of the US public still regard climate change as affecting the next generation and of low priority. Climate messaging that has focused on future increases in temperature and impacts such as rising sea levels could be aided by inclusion of direct health impacts and learn from targeted public health campaign strategies. Effectively communicating the health impacts of climate change and health…

Panel on the Papal Encyclical. Sir Peter Crane, John Grim, Douglas Kysar and others

Yale’s Forum on Ecology and Religion, a unique partnership on theology and ecology between the Yale School of Divinity and the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Science, hosts a panel to discuss Pope Francis’s eagerly awaited encyclical, anticipated to call the world’s 1.2BB catholics to action on climate change in anticipation of the UNFCC meeting in Paris December 2015. 

Political Ideology Trumps First-hand Experience on Climate Change

While attributing specific extreme weather events to anthropogenic climate change is always subject to challenge, assertions that climate change has already increased the occurrence of such phenomena is harder to deny. Indeed, extreme weather events such as the 2003 European heat wave, 2010 Russian heat wave, 2012 Superstorm Sandy in the US, or the 2013-14 southward shifts of the North Polar Vortex are consistent with predictions of climate change impacts (McCright et al. 2014). Social scientists increasingly ask to what extent does the general public link…

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.

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