Science communicators propose to fight climate change

Science communicators across the world have proposed more than hundres recommendations for better communicating the dangerous impacts of climate change and the ways to take mitigation measures. Their recommendations will be submitted to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) to fuel further anti-climate change actions.

The project, named Copenhagen Challenge, is part of the 10th conference on the Public Communication of Science and Technology (PCST) held in Malmo of Sweden and Copenhagen of Denmark between 24 and 27 June.

While climate change has become an established fact to the science community, it is still a changing work to persuade industries, politicians and many of the public to take actions, said Mikkel Bohm, director of Danish Science Communication, at the Copenhagen Challenge session on 26 June.

He says that the gathering of science communicators at the PCST meeting has offered a marvelous chance to “build bridges and dialogues in the societies on the issues of climate changes.”

The 14 topics of Copenhagen Challenge were distributed to all of the PCST participants two week before the conference and the attendees – more than 500 – were organised into 73 focus groups at the session to offer their recommendations.

The challenges include topics like how to communicate climate change without modern mass media; how to deal with regional differences of climate change; communicating in order to make people change behaviour; communicating conflicting views and using new electronic media for communicating climate change.

Each of the Copenhagen Challenge focus groups consists of communicators of different regions, background and professions, and is allowed to offer up to three recommendations to one of the 14 challenges plus some key words needed for climate change communication.

The challenge and recommendations were discussed within each group for the whole afternoon and then they were input by organizers to the Copenhagen Challenge website (http://fm.formidling.dk/pcst/rec) as well as submitted to UNFCCC.

Participants have actively joined the discussion, debates and solution designs. In the challenge how to communicate climate change without modern mass media, for example, they have recommended solutions like using the natural meeting places such as schools, shops and hospitals; adopting rich folk art, like folk songs, games, toys, folk theater and dances; and identifying the local problems and needs of the community related to climate change and focusing on these to design particular strategies within relevant communities.

Similarly, they also suggested to “localise both the impacts of climate change and the impacts of people’s activity alternation on the climate” in dealing with the challenge to change people’s behaviours.

“We have had an overweight of recommendations, and they will form a good start for us to deal with climate change through communications,” Bohm told the next day (27 June)’s PCST conference.

He says that all recommendations will be submitted to UNFCCC in their original forms instead of forming a report prioritizing some over others. “All of them will eventually be chosen by some people having relevance,” Bohn told SciDev.Net.

Manoj Patairiya, President of Indian Science Writers’ Association, welcomes the work under Copenhagen Challenge, saying it offers a constructive open platform to discuss communicating climate change issues.

“But there should be more topics related to the communication situation in the developing countries, such as the contradictions between development and tapping climate changes,” Manoj told SciDev.Net.

Jia Hepeng, China Coordinator, SciDev.Net

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