Communicating on Climate Change

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…

For Ecologists, Is Climate Change Research Sufficiently Complex?

Climate change will alter myriad natural processes as precipitation patterns shift and oceanic and atmospheric temperatures and CO2 concentrations rise. Modern ecology and environmental science has already examined the potential effects of climate change on species and ecosystems, allowing us to elucidate the mechanisms and pathways through which it may operate (Tylianakis et al. 2008)…

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.

Climate Change in New England: What's Next? (Keynote Speaker, Senator Chris Murphy)

Senator Chris Murphy, recently returned from tense discussions regarding crisis in the Middle East, suggests to the audience that the turmoil there was triggered by an unprecedented drought which is likely a consequence of climate change.  His keynote presentation was part of a Town Hall Meeting entitled, “Climate Change in New England: What’s Next?” which explored how global warming will affect New England in the 21st century and how the region is preparing for the coming changes.


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