Klimagune Workshop 2015
The Klimagune Workshop is a science-policy forum on Climate Change, open to all agents in the Basque Science and Technology Network as well as to other social agents interested in climate change. The aim of this initiative is to share knowledge, new ideas and developments in terms of scientific and policy advancements on climate change. It is aimed at strengthening the synergies and cooperation among research groups, organisations and various administrative bodies that address climate change issues in the Basque Country. Since its first edition four years ago, 400 people have participated in this annual event. To date the Klimagune Workshop has launched five crosscutting themes, including, adaptation strategies in the Basque Country, the Green economy and transitions towards sustainability and the opportunities and challenges for rural areas in the context of climate change.
The sixth edition of the Klimagune will focus on “Communicating climate science: Opportunities and challenges” and will take place on the 23rd of November, at the Bizkaia Aretoa in Bilbao.
The event will consist of various activities. There will be a plenary session where various Keynote speakers, of considerable international renown, will reflect about the main topic.Two round different round-table discussion are organized followed by 3 work-tables .
COMMUNICATING CLIMATE SCIENCE: OPPORTUNITIES AND CHALLENGES
According to a special Eurobarometer published in 2009, Europeans think that climate change is the second biggest threat facing the world, second only to world hunger. However, people still hold erroneous interpretations about the causes of climate change. For instance a majority of the Spanish population links climate change to the depletion of the ozone layer. It also seems that on the last years since the beginning of the 2008 economic crisis hit much of the world, perceptions on the importance of climate change have dropped, even though the scientific evidence on climate change accelerating impacts increased significantly. Misconceptions about climate change is of great concern to the research community. A key question that the Klimagune Workshop 2015 asks is to what extent such erroneous perceptions are related to the role of the mainstream (or mass) media including newspapers, radio and TV.
Contrary to other regions of the world such as the USA, where the mainstream news media has aligned with climate change scepticism, in Europe the media tends to take a sensationalist approach when covering climate change. Neither of the two approaches are based on scientific consensus. In fact, in Europe, too often, almost everything from localized flooding to unusual heat waves are attributed to climate change, often with very little scientific evidence to back up such claims. The way the media creates public opinion on climate change is a key issue that will be analysed in the Klimagune Workshop 2015. We will discuss the way the media uses scientific information sources, as well as the ways it filters scientific information to society. These are aspects that are often seen as falling outside the control of scientists themselves but aspects that nevertheless should be analysed by scientists.
There is a general view that instead of motivating people to action, using facts from science, the mainstream news media tend to use sensational and alarming techniques. This may be because journalists are usually attracted to risk controversies. But this has been shown to create ’denial, paralysis (or) apathy’ rather than motivate people to act towards mitigating and adapting to climate change. Likewise, popular portrayals of climate change by the identification of charismatic victims, such as the polar bear, may be seen as a powerful narrative to combat climate change by some but in reality this may be creating the wrong perception that climate change is something that is geographically too distant and not related to people’s everyday life. Similarly, framing climate change in terms of catastrophes and risks rather than in terms of solutions, may not contribute to fill people’s value-action gap .
There is a general perception by scientists that the current discursive setting of some mainstream media in Europe has clearly generated concern over climate change but not inspired enough bottom up action towards effective climate friendly behaviour. Important questions that the Klimagune Workshop will ask are thus: what is the role of science towards informing the media about climate change? How can mainstream news media improve the dissemination of science to the general public in a way that favour action?
The Klimagune Workshop 2015 will address the challenges and opportunities for more effective communication approaches by climate change scientists through the media. By doing so the objective of the workshop will be to better understand the way climate change needs to be communicated and how this could shapes people´s perceptions and attitudes about climate change.
The Klimagune Workshop 2015 is open to scientists, professionals of communication (journalists, etc.) as well as the general public.
Ikerbasque Research Professor at Basque Centre for Climate Change (BC3)
General Coordinator of Klimagune Workshop