APA Conference Keynote Focuses on Challenges of Communicating Climate Change

Meghan Stromberg reports on the opening keynote from this year's annual APA national conference, taking place in Los Angeles through April 17th. Dr. Andrew Weaver spoke about the disconnect between climate change science and public perception.
April 16, 2012, 10am PDT | Jonathan Nettler | @nettsj
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One of the lead authors of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's landmark report Climate Change 2007: The Physical Science Basis, Dr. Weaver spoke about the overwhelming scientific consensus behind the human impacts on climate change and divergent public perception of the problem and its causes.

He attributes this disconnect to both "how scientists communicate - including using jargon and failing to present complex issues in a way that nonscientists can understand - and how the media present these issues," writes Stromberg.

"The media, he said, employ sensationalist headlines and cite experts who lack true scientific credentials. Most egregiously, the media distort the facts in the name of providing the appearance of balanced reporting. In doing so, they give disproportionate time and voice to the small group of people who doubt the existence of climate change or the evidence that increased greenhouse gas emissions are the cause."

While the current commitments of the world's nations for reducing emissions by 2050 appear inadequate to head off the 2 degree Celsius threshold for significant impacts, Dr. Weaver was optimistic about the longer-range opportunity to create entirely de-carbonized societies through technological innovation, and implored planners to build the infrastructure to facilitate such a transformation.

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Published on Sunday, April 15, 2012 in Planning.org
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