Climate communications: Laura Helmuth and Susan Hassol talk about language
Posted on 8 May 2023 by Doug Bostrom
Do people hear what we’re saying about climate change and why it’s important? Making sure we’re understood needs displacement— into other sets of ears.
The right words are crucial to solving climate change – but too often the way that scientists share information can be confusing for the general public. How can researchers and other science communicators more clearly get across their findings and potential solutions, to help us together make progress on such important global challenges? Join Laura Helmuth, Editor-in-Chief at Scientific American, in conversation with Susan Hassol Director, Climate Communication.
This interview from Springer Nature’s In Conversation pairs with Hassol’s recent article The Right Words Are Crucial to Solving Climate Change, published in Scientific American.
Helmuth and Hassol explore choosing terminology for better mutual understanding. The same linguistic barriers Helmuth and Hassol tackle lead Skeptical Science to undertake a massive revision project aimed at leveling the hill between climate talk and climate listen— by using plain language. Here are three examples of how language goes amiss, and how to land on target:
|Scientist says||Public hears||Clarity added|
|Climate change||Any change of climate||Climate disruption|
|Positive feedback||Good response||Self-reinforcing cycle|
|Greenhouse gas emissions||Hothouse exhaust||Heat-trapping pollution|