Climate scientists may not be the best communicators of climate threats | 4/18/2018 | Staff
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The American public ranks scientists as some of the most trusted voices in the country. So it made sense for eminent climate scientists, such as James Hansen, Michael Mann, and Peter Kalmus, to sound the alarm about climate change.

"When climate scientists don't speak out, we're inadvertently sending a message that climate change isn't urgent, said Kalmus, a climate scientist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, in a 2017 essay addressed to other climate scientists.

Scientists - Impact - Conversation

But when these scientists do speak out, are they having an impact on the public conversation?

Few studies have examined how effective climate scientists are in influencing the public about climate change. However, other studies suggest that messages delivered by credible and trusted sources may be especially powerful. For example, one recent study found that when the Republican Party was connected to a state ballot measure on climate change, Republican support increased.

Scholars - Change - Communication - Effect - Information

As scholars who study climate change and communication, we recently examined the effect of scientific information about climate change on public opinion to determine if messages attributed to climate scientists made a difference.

Our study shows that climate scientists have relatively little impact on people's views.And it demonstrates how difficult it is to match the message and the messenger to an audience when the issues are complex and politically charged.


Who is a trusted source?

While science is inherently uncertain, the science of climate change—and the role of humans in making it worse – is clear. Many climate controversies today are not about whether the climate is changing, but how should people change their behavior and the causes of climate change itself.

Certainties - Climate - Science - Americans - Lines

Despite the certainties of climate science, Americans remain deeply divided along political lines about climate change.

For more than two decades, the scientific community has made efforts to inform the public about the scientific agreement of human-caused climate change and its...
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