TIME FOR CHANGE ? Climate Science Reconsidered

  • Climate science is centre stage and is regularly employed in a selective manner by protagonists seeking to justify their stance and vanquish opposing views. As well as undermining the ability of society to address effectively the climate change issue, this is proving detrimental to the standing of science and to the reputation of scientists, and threatens to weaken the role of scientific evidence in wise, democratic decision-making.

    What is going on? Why is it that the results of multiple lines of scientific enquiry regarded as robust by specialists are dismissed – even ridiculed – with determination and contempt? How can climate scientists communicate their messages more effectively? How can their contribution to the climate change discourse and policy formulation be improved to benefit the public good?

    This report considers these and related questions. We explore the intersection of science and societal decision-making, and summarise recent thinking on the roles and obligations of researchers carrying out ‘policy-relevant’ scienceiii. We draw on the insights of the social and behavioural sciences to demonstrate the need for active critical reflection on the part of climate scientists, as well as all others involved in the public discourse on climate science. We discuss the forces at work in the formation of societal reactions to the results and implications of climate science, and especially the propensity for widely differing interpretations of evidence and antagonism to others. We identify a number of issues that threaten the public standing of climate scientists, and consider how these can be addressed.

  • UCL Policy Commission on Communicating Climate Science

  • See URL for document

  • Report

  • 2014

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