Accepted Paper:

Engaging the disengaged with extreme weather events  
Peter Walton (University of Oxford)

Paper short abstract:

Linking high impact weather events with a changing climate could help to engage many of the disengaged Americans, but how best to communicate the science? This paper reports on a study to use local weathercasters to help communicate the science of extreme events and to help engage the disengaged.

Paper long abstract:

The American public is often perceived as being either ambivalent or cynical about climate change. Yet recent studies show that the landscape is far more nuanced with a spectrum of attitudes existing from alarmist to denialist. Whilst the extreme groups will always be hard to reach, the middle groups who are currently disengaged have the potential to be engaged.

Extreme weather events and their subsequent impacts have been seen as providing a context with which to bridge the gap between future climate change with the recognition that climate change is happening now. What is not clear though is how best to communicate the science in a way that is trusted, informative and provides the ability to act.

This paper reports on a recent project that tested the use of local weathercasters as mechanisms to communicate information about recent extreme weather events in the United States. Scripts and visuals were generated to ensure scientific accuracy whilst still being accessible to the public. The resulting weathercasts were then tested on focus groups in Chicago and Miami.

Panel P32
Visualizing Climate - Changing Futures?