[Coral-List] Climate Change and Communication

David Fisk davefisk at gmail.com
Tue Nov 1 16:07:19 EDT 2016

A recent article from WMO proposes some ways of communicating climate
change and extreme events, which may be useful for coral reef scientists
wanting to communicate impacts like the recent bleaching events with links
to climate change.


They propose several simple guidelines for clear communication around


   Lead with what the science does understand and save the caveats and
   uncertainties for later. For example, start by explaining the impact of
   global warming on heatwaves and then discuss the specifics of an individual

   Use metaphors to explain risk and probabilities. For instance,
   discussion of global warming as “loading the dice toward more rolls of
   extreme events”, or “stacking the deck” in favour of extremes, are examples
   of accessible language.

   Avoid loaded language like “blame” and “fault”.

   Use accessible language for conveying uncertainty and confidence. For
   example, scientists often use the word “uncertainty” to discuss the
   envelope of future climate scenarios, but to the public, “uncertainty”
   means we just don’t know. Instead, use the word “range”.

   Try to avoid language that creates a sense of hopelessness. For example,
   rather than calling further increases in some extreme weather “inevitable”,
   we can discuss the choice we face between a future with increases in
   extreme weather, and one with less.

Cheers Dave Fisk

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