Communicating Climate Change: Boundaries Between Scientists and Public Acceptance


  • Gabrielle Burke


Though there is consensus among climate scientists that anthropogenic climate change is happening, public polling does not show the same consensus due to variables like conflicts with personal values or misrepresentation of academic views. The interest of our research was to analyze how scientists communicate global warming findings and determine ways to improve effectiveness. A literature study focused on the overlap of personal values and trust in climate change claims. Results show that individuals will not want to engage in dialogue if they feel that their values are criticized. Values like economic views, religion, experience, and culture are all relevant to views on climate change. A scientific consensus does not translate into acceptance of the issue or policy shifts when portions of the population do not value the basis of the studies. We have found that there is often false controversy from inadequate discourse, a foundational distrust of institutions, and false speech from admired parties. Combating this requires a separation of academia from those within it, so conversations about societal issues are between equally affected citizens. The conclusion is that we cannot respect consensus or accept a contrary idea if we do not respect the origins of the information. To have productive dialogue with a member outside of an academic community like climate science, the focus of the conversation must be a connection in values to the individual's experience.





Earth Sciences