Challenges and Opportunities for Communicating Climate Change Information Across a “Consensus Gap”

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Tuesday, 4 February 2014: 8:30 AM
Room C105 (The Georgia World Congress Center )
Aneela L. Qureshi, Univ. of Georgia, Athens, GA; and B. Irwin and M. L. Gore

According to a recent review of scientific literature, approximately 97% of published studies taking a stand on climate change are in consensus that global temperatures are warming and this warming has anthropogenic causes. However, according to recent polls, a majority of Americans do not believe in anthropogenic global warming (AGW), and less than 50% of the American public views there to be scientific consensus on AGW. This discrepancy indicates a substantial “consensus gap” between what the scientific community is reporting and what the American public perceives. Even in this age of unprecedented access to information, scientists and science communicators face considerable challenges for engaging or motivating the public, particularly when addressing the uncertainty present in all scientific conclusions. In this presentation, we will summarize perspectives shared at a recent interdisciplinary workshop, which focused on communicating and using uncertain climate change information with an emphasis on conservation decision making. Specifically, we will review several challenges for communicating about uncertainty and provide examples of using modern technology to effectively communicate climate change information.