Accepted Paper:

Engaging different publics in climate change blogs  

Author:

Jenni Metcalfe (University of Queensland)

Paper long abstract:

Online tools are now a common means of scientists and science communications 'engaging' with the public. Some believe such tools may even engage people who are not otherwise engaged in science. The Australian National Audit of Science Engagement Activities (2012) showed that almost 60% of the 416 activities recorded used social media as a tool for engaging the public.

When there is public controversy about science, such as climate change, views become polarised and the blogosphere offers a 'soapbox' for such views. In the context of the climate change science controversy, it is interesting to investigate how open people are to learn from and interact with each other through social media outlets such as blogs. This case study has selected blogs set up by two Australians with polarised views on climate science: www.joannenova.com.au and www.skepticalscience.com. Both blogs, while being written in Australia and often coloured by local political and social debates on climate change, purport to have a global reach.

This paper reports on analysis of recent (Nov 15 2013-March 15 2014) blogs that are about the links between climate extremes (such as floods, droughts, heat waves and cyclones) and climate change science. The reason for this topic is that it is controversial to link climate extremes to climate change and this topic if of high public interest in Australia which, except for Antarctica, has the world's most variable climate and is used to droughts, heat waves and floods.

Panel C2
Solidarity and plurality: Dimensions of 'the public' in scientific engagement