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Climate change Guide: how to win hearts and minds

Posted in Research by Kate Archdeacon on December 8th, 2009

Source: Environmental Research Web

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From “Climate change: how to win hearts and minds“, by Liz Kalaugher

Despite the fact that in 2007 the scientists compiling the IPCC report were 90% certain that human activities are causing climate change, climate scepticism amongst the public is on the rise. In the US there has been a sharp decline over the last year in the percentage of the population who say there is solid evidence that global temperatures are rising, while in the UK the number of people believing that claims about the effects of climate change have been exaggerated rose from 15% to 29% between 2003 and 2008.

So how can a climate scientist best communicate their work to a sceptical audience?

With that in mind, the Center for Research on Environmental Decisions (CRED) at Columbia University has issued a guide on the psychology of climate change communication that brings together the latest social science research in the field. Although it’s a serious topic, the guide is easy to read and contains many a cartoon and case study to illustrate its points.  “Gaining public support for climate change policies and encouraging environmentally responsible behaviour depends on a clear understanding of how people process information and make decisions,” says the report. “Social science research provides an essential part of this puzzle but there is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to the challenges of communicating about climate change. Rather, each of the many barriers presents a new opportunity to improve the way we present information.”

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