The climate is changing - ”We need to understand how people understand

14.07.2012
“Communicating the challenges of climate change should be seen as an interaction process, not as one-way transmission of information.”

Assistant professor Anne Gammelgaard Jensen and professor Michael Goodsite from Aarhus University, talking at Euroscience Open Forum (ESOF) in Dublin, both agreed that scientists working on climate change issues should focus on “what’s in it for me” when talking to the general public.

People are not perceiving the seriousness of climate change

With her background from social sciences and communications, Jensen has been looking into the questions of how climate change information is perceived, and how it can be improved. At ESOF, she was interviewed by BBC science journalist Quentin Cooper.

The public at large see climate change issues as something distant – in time and space  – and of little relevance. There is also a lot of scepticism towards climate sciences in general. The complexitiy of the subject matter represents another major challenge.

Interactive visualization tools can contribute to attitude change

“How can we achieve participation and two-way communication, leading to attitude change and behavior change,” asked Quentin Cooper.


Jensen:  ”The focus of my research is to understand how people understand, in order to provide information that is perceived as relevant and interesting. Therefore, we are now developing interactive visualization tools for home-owners, so that they can see for themselves the future effects of a changing climate. How do these interactive features influence people’s understanding of the climate issues? That is what we are looking into now.”

The NordStar project is a joint effort by nine partners in the Nordic region. It is a five year project now in its second year. Professor Michael Goodsite is the project director. Read more about the project here.

(Text:  Dag Inge Danielsen      Photo:  Terje Heiestad)

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