Confidence and certainty in climate science

Ailie Gallant, Sophie Lewis

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The science of the enhanced greenhouse effect is well understood and is based on over 150 years of scientific endeavour. Human-induced global warming is ‘virtually certain’ as we move further into the 21st century (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change 2013). However, the Earth’s climate system is complex. Consequently, the prediction of many aspects of climate change that accompany global warming are uncertain, particularly for those aspects of the climate that people most care about – for example, local changes in weather and climate extremes. It is for these aspects of climate change where communication of the science becomes most difficult, particular when climate scientists themselves are acting as the primary communicators. This chapter will address why pairing messages of certainty with uncertainty in climate change communication can be problematic for effective communication. Further, we will examine the role of climate scientists as communicators and identify those evidence-based practices that are most effective for climate change communication by scientists.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationResearch Handbook on Communicating Climate Change
EditorsDavid C Holmes, Lucy M Richardson
Place of PublicationCheltenham UK
PublisherEdward Elgar Publishing
Number of pages9
ISBN (Electronic)9781789900408
Publication statusPublished - 8 Dec 2020

Publication series

NameElgar Handbooks in Energy, the Environment and Climate Change
PublisherEdward Elgar Publishing

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