How to Communicate Climate Risks In Ways That Inspire Action

blog-communicating climate risks-3.31.16As scientists and policymakers work to put together the next National Climate Assessment (due out in 2018), they are striving to find ways to ensure enough people not only read it, but act on it. The answer, according to Alice Hill, the National Security Council’s senior director for resilience policy, is to communicate the risks of climate change “in plain English.”
People respond with greater urgency to threats that are imminent and local, so the authors feel it’s time for an interactive approach that will help government agencies, communities, and businesses understand what specific impacts they can expect, and how soon. This will help people understand the scope of what’s needed and build climate resilience into their planning.
As this ClimateWire article explains, social science is playing an increasingly large role in the new report. The authors are looking for ways to effectively communicate how disruptive it will be. They’re considering using storytelling to make the risks more tangible, along with compelling visual media such as animated videos and graphic novels. The authors also want to include poor communities and other vulnerable groups in the discussion. Though these populations suffer more than others from climate impacts, they have been underrepresented in the climate movement. A more inclusive approach can help make the assessment more personally relevant.
For more tips on making climate action a priority for businesses and communities, download our communications guide, Let’s Talk Climate: Messages to Motivate Americans.

How to Talk Global Warming in Plain English

By Erika Bolsted, contributor to ClimateWire
Scientists struggle to convey the risks of climate change simply
In New Orleans, the city’s planners would love to see block-by-block estimates of how sea-level rise might affect neighborhoods and critical infrastructure. In Seattle, they want to know how to shape their municipal culture so that even basic budgeting decisions factor in evolving climate patterns, and not just the past weather patterns that planners have relied on for decades.
Everyone is looking for something different from the next National Climate Assessment, including the scientists and decisionmakers who put together the current guiding document for climate policy in this country. And as they discuss how to put together the next blueprint, they worry about how to best get their message to the people who need most to hear and heed it.
Is anyone reading the assessment? Will anyone read the next one? And how can they make sure that people do?
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Image credit: Bob McMillan/FEMA Photo

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