Presentation on theme: "NIEHS, USFS, NOAA Symposium on Teaching Climate Change. NSTA Annual Meeting, Indianapolis, March 29, 2012 Effectively Educating the Public About Climate."— Presentation transcript:
NIEHS, USFS, NOAA Symposium on Teaching Climate Change. NSTA Annual Meeting, Indianapolis, March 29, 2012 Effectively Educating the Public About Climate Change: Five Guiding Principles Edward Maibach, M.P.H., Ph.D.
#1: The less you say, the more you’re heard. Identify the few most important things you want to say. Say them early and often. Encourage other trusted sources in your community – and in your case, other teachers – to say them early and often as well. Make it easy for the people in your target audience – in your case, your students – to say them to each other. This is the formula for public education effectiveness: “Simple clear messages, repeated often, by a variety of trusted sources.”
Trust in Sources of Information about Climate Change: General Public Source: Leiserowitz A, Maibach E, Roser-Renouf, C & Smith N. (2011) Climate change in the American Mind: Americans’ global warming beliefs and attitudes in May 2011.
#2: Audience research is an important asset in determining what is most important to say. What to say should be determined by the needs of your audience – in your case, your students – not by what you are most eager to say. Audience research can be used to identify: a.Which facts about the about climate change, once understood, make the biggest difference in helping audience members grasp the current state of the science? b.Which misperceptions are the biggest impediment to audience members’ understanding of the current state of the science?
Global Warming Key Beliefs: It’s real It’s human caused It’s bad for people It’s solvable Policy Support Injunctive Beliefs + Four key beliefs that are strongly associated with the attitude that society “should do more to address global warming,” and with support for a range of public policies that will help limit global warming Ding, Maibach et al (2011) Support for climate policy and societal action are linked to perceptions about scientific agreement. Nature Climate Change, DOI:10:1038/NCLIMATE1295
In May 2011: Only 39% of American adults believed “Most scientists think global warming is happening” And only 13% believed “ % of climate scientists think global warming is happening.” Leiserowitz A, Maibach E, Roser-Renouf C & Smith N. (2011) Climate change in the American Mind: Americans’ global warming beliefs and attitudes in May 2011.
Perceived Scientific Agreement Global Warming Key Beliefs: It’s real Human caused Bad for people Solvable Policy Support Injunctive Beliefs + Ding, Maibach et al (2011) Support for climate policy and societal action are linked to perceptions about scientific agreement. Nature Climate Change, DOI:10:1038/NCLIMATE A myth that matters: “There’s a lot of disagreement among scientists about global warming”
#3: To engage your audiences’ thoughts and feelings: be concrete, not abstract.
Abstract vs. Concrete
Processing of risk Source: Slovic, Finucane, Peters, & McGregor, 2004 Experiential system Analytic system requires logic and evidence“experiencing is believing” words percents% <= logic Our brains process risk information in two ways
Experiential system “experiencing is believing” Analytic system requires logic and evidence words percents% <= logic
Implications for effective communication: MAKE IT CONCRETE/EXPERIENTIAL Invoke people’s 5 senses; use visualizations MAKE IT LOCAL/REGIONAL Invoke the places people care about Experiential system “experiencing is believing” Analytic system requires logic and evidence words percents% <= logic
Climate scientists agree: Global warming is happening *Results from a survey of over 10,000 Earth Scientists; go to Doran final.pdf to read the full report Doran final.pdf
Source: Yale & George Mason, June 2010 #4: There is no such thing as “the public.” Example: Global Warming’s Six Americas
Source: Yale & George Mason, June 2010 “If you could ask an expert on global warming one question, which question would you ask?” What can the US do to reduce global warming? What harm will global warming cause? How do you know that global warming is occurring?
#5. If failure (of the public education effort) is not an option, create a public education team. Effective public education is a team sport involving collaboration between: Content experts Decision science experts Communication experts Baruch Fischhoff (2007). Non-persuasive Communication about Matters of Greatest Urgency: Climate Change. Environmental Science & Technology Online. 41:
In Summary: 1.Keep it simple: the less you say, the more you’re heard. 2.Use social science research – not your instincts – to determine what information has the most value to your audience. 3.Be concrete (i.e., invoke people’s five senses). 4.When possible, segment your audience, and tailor your education program accordingly. 5.Create a public education team of climate experts, social scientists, and educators/communicators.
All 4C reports can be downloaded at: Climatechangecommunication.org