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While climate takes place over much longer periods of time than weather people can still perceive it with some level of accuracy. A range of recent studies have shown that climate knowledge can spread through communities within a number of different settings. Indigenous communities for example, many of whom live most of their lives outdoors, likely experience changes in climate much differently from people who spend most of their time indoors within more controlled settings (see Making indigenous voices on climate change heard).
The context of climate change is important for communicating its impacts on the planet and society. If climate change science can’t relate to people’s everyday lives it makes it seem less important, even though we may have only a small glimpse of what climate change actually means for the planet as a whole and the flora and fauna that inhabit it.
In many cases people’s ideas about climate change may come primarily from the mass media, but to see this problem of climate communication as the responsibility of the media alone seems rather unrealistic. The fact remains that most media organisations have their own values embedded within their respective institutions and they normally succumb to market demands, rather than social or cultural values that are much wider ranging and long-term including those of science. Reportage of climate change is often influenced by political orientation especially for publications that give ‘climate scepticism’ equal footing with scientific consensus on climate change. Read more
An interesting infographic from LearnStuff.com for provoking discussion about climate change and could be used as an educational tool for younger audiences. I think it’s also important to keep in mind that further research, discussion and debate on the degree of environmental change that human-induced climate change plays a role in is imperative to adaptation efforts. How people experience climate change firsthand is an area of research that will likely play a greater role in both climate change mitigation and adaptation throughout the world.
The coming US presidential election without a doubt has implications for economic and environmental policy throughout the world, especially regarding the numerous hazards and risks induced by climate change. Yet the term ‘climate change’ itself appears absent from both candidates’ vocabularies as it has not been mentioned in the presidential debates nor very much in their campaigns. Why is this? The Commission on Presidential Debates which organises the debates is not exactly open about choosing the topics, which it does behind closed doors. The way in which the debates themselves are funded through the commission also appears dubious, accepting sponsorship from the world’s largest brewing company in the world Anheuser-Busch (InBev) who has been involved in the debates since 1992. Read the rest of this entry »
As reported previously on IHRR’s blog (see Recent devastating forest fires in US) wildfires have been a severe environmental hazard for the western US. According to the National Interagency Fire Center 8,828,875 acres have been burnt this year (896,664 if you include current active fires), with around 10 percent of burnt acreage in California. The numbers continue to go up.
The increase in size and frequency of wildfires in the US has been attributed to the effects of climate change which has decreased winter snow cover leading to an early spring and making heat waves more intense. The Bagley fire pictured below near Big Bend, California burned a total of 46,011 acres. It was one of a number of large fires that occurred in the western US.