Yesterday's joint meeting of the Royal Meteorological Society and Royal Geographical Society on Communicating Climate Science was held at Imperial College, London.
The meeting focused on the report 'Climate Science, the Public and the News Media' by Emily Shuckburgh , Rosie Robison and Nick Pidgeon.
Many of the nuggets in the report were discussed, and are in my cartoon notes, but one is worth repeating: trust in scientists (communicating about climate change) has fallen from 68% in 2006 to 51% in 2011. Trust in climate scientists is even lower at 38%. This is extraordinary, though perhaps not much of a surprise.
Sadly much of the meeting did not really deal with this at all. Most of the talks were about how to communicate better rather than dealing with the thorny but rather basic problem that the message was not credible. Bob Ward was the only person to raise this and to ask how trust might be regained - much respect to Bob for asking the right question and commiserations for not getting an answer.
There was also a noticeable disconnect between the science and 'the message'. Tim Palmer's talk was excellent but his points about uncertainty (that's the science) did not sit easily with later speakers who wanted to hear something much more alarming. They wanted risk not uncertainty, at least 6 degrees of heat, massive impacts and much more passion, not because it was science but because they wanted to change people's behaviour. More like 6 degrees of separation.
Two other issues came to mind. The first is that none of the speakers seemed to think anything was amiss with climate science. Climategate was mentioned a little but there was no calling out of bad behaviour, no apology for getting some of the science disastrously wrong, in other words they are still 'Hiding the Decline'.
The second issue, as Andy Russell has pointed out, was that there was no mention of the blogs. Again maybe this should not be a surprise given the desparation of some to control the message.
My last thought is the gobsmacking irony of the closing remarks where some of the panel did not think it was worth communicating to the public. Incredible? Indeed it was.
The Cartoon Notes
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Emily Shuckburgh: Welcome and introduction to the report "Climate Science, the Public and the News Media"
Tim Palmer: A scientist's perspective on communicating climate change.
Rosie Robison: Climate science, the public and the news media.