Extreme event/weather communication

Communication sciences span a large array of fields and issues. We have science communication, risk communication, crisis communication, health communication, and, of course climate change communication. Over the last few years, it has become clear to me that when it comes to climate and weather, all these communication efforts converge and become part of what …

The IPCC report: Impacts, adaptation and vulnerabilities

When I think about the latest IPCC report, which came out on 28 February, these sentences come to my (German) mind: Eintritt streng verboten! Eintritt strengstens verboten!! Eintritt allerstrengstens verboten!!! (Entry strictly forbidden. Entry very strictly forbidden. Entry extremely strictly forbidden.) These words are written on warning signs that adorn three doors in the classic …

IPCC reports, climate change and language work

This blog post is not about climate change communication. It is about what I call the ‘language work’ carried out by scientists when writing the various IPCC reports. Introduction On 9 August 2021 the first part of the Sixth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, namely the Contribution of Working Group 1 …

What is a climate change communicator to do?

In a recent article, social scientists claim that a rhetoric of deadlines to urge action on climate change is ‘dangerous’. While I agree that it might be dangerous to get into a situation where you extend deadlines forever if you cannot achieve them, setting no deadlines at all may make it difficult to talk about …

Are we all alarmists now?

Over the years I have written many posts about extreme weather events on the one hand and quite a few on so-called alarmism on the other. This was in the context of working on issues related to climate change communication. Some years ago, when writing an article on communicating climate change, I included a sentence …

Science/climate communication: A view from reception theory

There has been some controversy recently surrounding a paper published in Nature Geoscience on global warming or, if I understand things correctly, about whether there might be a slightly better chance of avoiding it. This paper appears to have been misunderstood, misrepresented and misreported. One Mail Online headline read: “Fear of global warming is exaggerated, …

Methodological clarity required when publishing social science in natural science journals

This is a joint post with Greg Hollin. The latest issue of Nature Climate Change features a Correspondence from Peter Jacobs and colleagues which concerns a recent Letter that appeared in the same journal; our Reply is also published. We do not wish to deny that there are real and significant differences between ourselves and …

The crucial role of culture in climate change

On Wednesday, I attended the US Ambassador’s ‘digital dialogue’ event on climate change at Winfield House, where policy wonks, journalists, NGO representatives and academics discussed their current hopes and frustrations. Beyond the usual grumbles about ‘bogus arguments’ against climate action, it was pleasing that some attendees outside of the social sciences chose to highlight the key role of cultural …

Improving climate change communications: moving beyond scientific certainty

This is a co-authored post with Gregory Hollin. It is based upon our new paper in Nature Climate Change, which is the first piece of original research from science and technology studies (STS) published in the journal. In the last 25 years scientists have become increasingly certain that humans are responsible for changes to the …