What's in a Word?

The Coming Lexicon Challenge: ‘Climate Adaptation’ – Saying What We Mean

Can thoughtful climate lexicon avoid the kind of rhetorical congestion that has so far framed the climate debate?

As the ‘Climategate’ controversy has sent the science and policy community back to the communications drawing board, it’s a good time to return to earlier works on global climate change, or if you like, global warming, or the greenhouse effect, or even the carbon dioxide problem.

The reasons for inaction at the national and international levels are many and complex, but certainly challenges with the language used have contributed to the political deadlock. The situation has implications for how we move forward in the necessary task that our inaction makes more urgent each day: climate change adaptation.


One Constant Remains ... The 'Wow!' Factor

Digital Journalists Confront Unique Opportunities, Challenges in Explaining Climate Change Online

A 3-D spinning globe on the new website TakePart tells a compelling story about the tremendous impacts of climate change.


AGU Exploring Scientists-Journalists Link Developed in Copenhagen to Meet Media Needs

Linking global climate science experts and media electronically.

Several months ago, Stacy Jackson, a Ph.D. student at the University of California, Berkeley’s Energy and Resources Group, had one of those good ideas that most of us set aside and never act on because they require a bit too much work.

But Jackson decided to follow through. What emerged was a unique, successful experiment in connecting reporters with scientists to help them accurately cover science issues underlying negotiations at last December’s Conference of the Parties meeting in Copenhagen.

Hundreds of scientists would ultimately get involved, helping nearly 27 media outlets get their facts straight.


If Scientists Don't Communicate ... Who Will?

New Job Assignment for Climate Scientists: Better Communications with Public, Media

Climate science can be about as complex as it gets, so it’s not surprising that the public at large is often confused about the subject.

Even with broad international scientific agreement on much of the evidence surrounding anthropogenic climate change, public concern has dropped sharply in the past two years – leading some to lament that public concern has decreased while scientific evidence has increased.


Beyond the Catch-All Rhetoric: Making Sense of Clean/Dirty ‘Clean Coal’

The effort to decarbonize the atmosphere in coming decades basically comes down to two grim challenges: drastically reduce carbon emissions, or drastically reduce energy consumption.

Given that the world’s population is expected to increase by a few billion more people by 2050, the energy consumption piece is a bit of a wild card. So experts and policymakers are getting serious about “clean coal,” a catch-all phrase dear to the hearts of industry public relations officials and a term meaning so many things, and different things, to different people. In addition, it’s a concept that exists only in a few places.


Confronting the Terawatts Challenge

Energy Conservation, Gas Prices Fueling Public Interests … But Challenges Persist

The public has cooled in its concern over climate change, recent surveys and polls show. But a strong interest in alternative energy continues, and Americans are keen on improving energy efficiency and saving on gasoline.

As with other issues, the public’s understanding of details is thin. Half of those Americans surveyed could not identify a renewable resource such as wind or solar power, and 39 percent could not name a fossil fuel – oil or coal, for example.

The Public Agenda survey, conducted last year, (see this article for more details) makes studies such as those of Caltech researcher Nathaniel Lewis that much more important. The simple reason: he offers a stark reality check on the nation’s high rhetoric and crawling progress toward alternative energy.


Analyzing Headlines and Lead Sentences In Penn State’s Michael Mann Inquiry

A sampling of media coverage of Pennsylvania State University’s announcement of findings of an inquiry there illustrates how deadline reporting and headline-writing about a single straightforward news event can lead to differing shadings and colorings.

Penn State had named an internal university panel to look into climate scientist Michael Mann in connection with e-mail messages he had sent, part of the hacked e-mail cache from the University of East Anglia’s Climatic Research Unit, CRU.


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