How seriously are we taking climate change? Monitoring climate change communication

Ann Henderson-Sellers

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

    Abstract

    Scientists and now most of our politicians know that climate change is real and requires action but, despite the award of the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize jointly to the IPCC and Al Gore for their communication efforts, global warming still seems to suffer from a credibility shortfall. Those of us who try to disseminate strong messages of urgency and certainty into public arenas can be dismayed by, for example, our national newspaper, The Australian, running anti-greenhouse stories day after day and Robyn Williams, an excellent science journalist and ABC editor, giving two Ockham's Razor programs to a 'should-know-better' warming debater. Here I try to explore some of the reasons why human-caused climate change is still to be acted upon in Australia. I ask - why do greenhouse 'nay-sayers' still get airtime in our mass media and apparently credibility with the general public. One part of the reason for the lack of effective climate change communication may be the 'code' we use: the very terminology we have developed to talk about this diabolical challenge for humanity may be slowing our ability to galvanise action. Another aspect is the extreme difficulty of separating a personal, or citizen's, viewpoint from the scientific voice. Finally, I believe there is an unhealthy polarisation into 'believers' and, the only alternative of 'non-believers', which is excluding scientific scepticism of a type not previously recognised - concern that the IPCC consensus is too conservative. In the light of these reasons for the lack of urgency on greenhouse action, I conclude with a new proposal for monitoring and hence, hopefully, improving climate change communication in Australia.

    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationClimate alert
    Subtitle of host publicationclimate change monitoring and strategy
    EditorsY You, A HendersonSellers
    Place of PublicationSydney, Australia
    PublisherSydney University Press
    Pages28-65
    Number of pages38
    Publication statusPublished - 2010

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