Communicating climate science

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The body of scientific evidence showing that the climate is changing due to human activity is so overwhelming that you might expect the facts to speak for themselves. Unfortunately they do not, as some people still do not accept the reality or seriousness of climate change. This means that using the most effective methods of communicating climate science is critical.

One challenge for communicators is that climate science – like any other scientific discipline – will always contain uncertainties. Being honest and open about what scientists do and don’t know about climate change, without undermining the strength of your message, is a real balancing act. Talking Climate contains a guide to communicating uncertainty, a section focusing specifically on communicating uncertainty in IPCC reports, and links to other resources that offer advice on communicating uncertainty in climate science in the most effective way.

Another reason that climate science is so difficult to communicate is that it is complex, and often involves technical terminology and jargon. This guide contains advice on making climate science simple – the best and clearest language to get complex scientific concepts across in an understandable way.

While communicating the science of climate change is an essential component of climate change communication, there is mounting evidence that simply turning up the volume on the scientific facts and figures is not enough to get more people interested and engaged in climate change. Scepticism about the reality and seriousness of climate change is often not based on a lack of scientific knowledge. This guide summarises the social science research that is revealing why some people remain sceptical about climate change despite the strength of the scientific evidence. Talking Climate also offers a roundup of the key messages about public attitudes towards climate change – essential to understand for overcoming scepticism.

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This website, a project of Climate Outreach (COIN), has been integrated into the new Climate Outreach website. Any updates since 21 October 2015 have been made to the new website only, not here, and this website will soon be deleted. Please bookmark our new website – we look forward to continuing to share the latest in climate communication research with you. We are now tweeting from @climateoutreach so please follow us there.