Climate Change Risk Communication

CNS Collaborator Nick Pidgeon and Baruch Fischhoff Propose Science-Based Risk Communication Strategy



  The authors of a recent Perspectives piece in the journal Nature Climate Science say it is not enough to intuit the success of climate communications. They contend the evaluation of climate communication should be met with the same rigor as climate science itself. Here, someone uses the 220 megapixel HiPerWall display at the University of California, San Diego to discuss 10 time varying Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change simulation runs.

Credit: Falko Kuester, California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology (Calit2), University of California, San Diego

The Perspectives piece, "The role of social and decision sciences in communicating uncertain climate risks," appeared in Nature Climate Change on March 29, 2011. In the article, Pidgeon and Fischhoff articulate a strategy for communicating climate science to the public based on "strategic listening" and "strategic organization" as means to providing the public with the tools necessary to understand the nature of scientific uncertainty and the role of disagreements in the practice of science.  Strategic listening involves the use of empirical evaluation and systematic feedback by science communicators in an effort to develop their ability to communicate effectively about potential risks and benefits of various decisions.  Strategic organization brings together disciplinary experts with decision, social, and communication scientists to craft and refine communication of scientific information that the public finds relevant and useful in supporting the decisions they face.

The article is available at, and a press release is available at

Related -- Nick Pidegon also weighs in on public acceptance of nuclear risk and likely impacts of the Fukushima power plant crisis on public perception of this risk:  "A shift in public attitudes to nuclear power", Channel 4 News