Communicating Environmental Geoscience - a new working group of the IUGS  GEM commission Dave Liverman and Ken Lawrie Nott...
Stephenville 2005
Badger 2002
New Orleans 2005
How can we mitigate the effects of natural disasters? <ul><li>Better science? </li></ul><ul><li>Better planning? </li></ul...
Flood risk mapping <ul><li>Comprehensive flood risk mapping in 1980s and 1990s </li></ul><ul><li>Construction and developm...
What went wrong? <ul><li>Science and mapping was in place and of good quality </li></ul><ul><li>Planning decisions apparen...
How to bridge the communication gap <ul><li>Educate the public on geoscience - schools </li></ul><ul><li>Educate politicia...
Who should communicate science? <ul><li>Scientists? </li></ul><ul><li>Journalists? </li></ul><ul><li>Communications/ PR ex...
Trust <ul><li>Who do you trust to tell the truth? (poll in the UK, 2002) </li></ul><ul><li>Doctors - 91% </li></ul><ul><li...
Why does communication  of science often fail? <ul><li>Appropriate language </li></ul><ul><li>Appropriate medium </li></ul>
Medium <ul><li>Scientific results presented in </li></ul><ul><li>Government reports </li></ul><ul><li>Scientific journals ...
Language - risk and probability <ul><li>Hazard maps often use probability of recurrence </li></ul><ul><li>1:20 year (desig...
Media  - challenges <ul><li>Media focus </li></ul><ul><li>- Novelty </li></ul><ul><li>- Drama </li></ul><ul><li>- Conflict...
Scientific American 2001 <ul><li>“ A major hurricane could swamp New Orleans under 20 feet of water, killing thousands. Hu...
<ul><li>Even with excellent communication of science, poor planning decisions can be made </li></ul><ul><li>Scientists nee...
CBS - an example
CBS Real estate listing Magnificent oceanfront home  Dramatically appointed  Watch icebergs,whales, sailboats & the surf  ...
<ul><li>Why have planners allow construction close to an eroding cliff? </li></ul>
Setback regulations <ul><li>Buffer zone : In the absence of specific setback requirements (depending on the activity) the ...
Planner’s problems <ul><li>What is happening and will happen to sea-level? </li></ul><ul><li>What is the maximum 100-year ...
Planner’s answer? High tide mark 1:100 year high water mark?
GEM working group <ul><li>Sept 2005:  IUGS Commission “Geoscience for Environmental Management” approved a new working gro...
GEM working group <ul><li>Learning how to communicate effectively with non-scientists </li></ul><ul><li>Tool development -...
<ul><li>Establishment of management group </li></ul><ul><li>Development of working group </li></ul><ul><li>Programme of ac...
<ul><li>Engaging non-geoscience community </li></ul><ul><li>Effective programmme, global scope </li></ul><ul><li>Flexible ...
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Communicating Environmental Geoscience- Liverman presentation, Keyworth 2006

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Presentation at communicating environmental geoscience workshop, Sept 2006

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Communicating Environmental Geoscience- Liverman presentation, Keyworth 2006

  1. 1. Communicating Environmental Geoscience - a new working group of the IUGS GEM commission Dave Liverman and Ken Lawrie Nottingham, September 2006
  2. 2. Stephenville 2005
  3. 3. Badger 2002
  4. 4. New Orleans 2005
  5. 5. How can we mitigate the effects of natural disasters? <ul><li>Better science? </li></ul><ul><li>Better planning? </li></ul><ul><li>Emergency management? </li></ul>
  6. 6. Flood risk mapping <ul><li>Comprehensive flood risk mapping in 1980s and 1990s </li></ul><ul><li>Construction and development occurred after publication of flood risk maps </li></ul>
  7. 7. What went wrong? <ul><li>Science and mapping was in place and of good quality </li></ul><ul><li>Planning decisions apparently did not use these tools </li></ul><ul><li>Breakdown of communications </li></ul>
  8. 8. How to bridge the communication gap <ul><li>Educate the public on geoscience - schools </li></ul><ul><li>Educate politicians and planners on geoscience </li></ul><ul><li>Educate scientists on how </li></ul><ul><li>to better communicate </li></ul>
  9. 9. Who should communicate science? <ul><li>Scientists? </li></ul><ul><li>Journalists? </li></ul><ul><li>Communications/ PR experts? </li></ul><ul><li>Politicians? </li></ul>
  10. 10. Trust <ul><li>Who do you trust to tell the truth? (poll in the UK, 2002) </li></ul><ul><li>Doctors - 91% </li></ul><ul><li>Teachers - 85% </li></ul><ul><li>Professors - 77% </li></ul><ul><li>Scientists - 64% </li></ul><ul><li>Civil servants - 45% </li></ul><ul><li>Politicians - 19% </li></ul><ul><li>Journalists - 13% </li></ul>
  11. 11. Why does communication of science often fail? <ul><li>Appropriate language </li></ul><ul><li>Appropriate medium </li></ul>
  12. 12. Medium <ul><li>Scientific results presented in </li></ul><ul><li>Government reports </li></ul><ul><li>Scientific journals </li></ul><ul><li>Scientific conferences </li></ul><ul><li>Politicians, public and planners learn about science from </li></ul><ul><li>Newspapers </li></ul><ul><li>TV and radio </li></ul><ul><li>Government/ internal reports </li></ul>
  13. 13. Language - risk and probability <ul><li>Hazard maps often use probability of recurrence </li></ul><ul><li>1:20 year (designated floodway) and 1:100 year (floodway fringe) on Newfoundland maps </li></ul><ul><li>Internal communication, UK Department of Health </li></ul><ul><li>Public reaction to risk sometimes seem bizarre, at least when compared with scientific estimates. Risk is technically defined as “probability times severity of harm”; the suggestion that a hazard poses an annual risk of death of “one chance in x” may cause near-panic or virtual indifference . </li></ul>
  14. 14. Media - challenges <ul><li>Media focus </li></ul><ul><li>- Novelty </li></ul><ul><li>- Drama </li></ul><ul><li>- Conflict </li></ul><ul><li>- Personality </li></ul><ul><li>- Pictures </li></ul><ul><li>- Telling a story </li></ul><ul><li>Can over-emphasise risk, danger, resulting unfounded concerns, “Inappropriate outcomes” </li></ul><ul><li>Rarely portray story or message in scientifically accurate fashion </li></ul>
  15. 15. Scientific American 2001 <ul><li>“ A major hurricane could swamp New Orleans under 20 feet of water, killing thousands. Human activities along the Mississippi River have dramatically increased the risk, and now only massive re-engineering of southeastern Louisiana can save the city” </li></ul>
  16. 16. <ul><li>Even with excellent communication of science, poor planning decisions can be made </li></ul><ul><li>Scientists need to understand economic, political and societal reasons for decision making in order to communicate effectively </li></ul>
  17. 17. CBS - an example
  18. 18. CBS Real estate listing Magnificent oceanfront home Dramatically appointed Watch icebergs,whales, sailboats & the surf Livng room is 100’ (30 m) from the ocean!!! Erosion rates 0.1- 0.5 m/ year over 10 years of measurement 10-50 m of erosion in 100 years
  19. 19. <ul><li>Why have planners allow construction close to an eroding cliff? </li></ul>
  20. 20. Setback regulations <ul><li>Buffer zone : In the absence of specific setback requirements (depending on the activity) the buffer is taken to be 15 metres measured from the high water mark which in turn is understood to be the 1 in 100 year high water mark. </li></ul><ul><li>The high water level of a water body is taken to be the 1:100 year return period water level. For a fresh water body, this level includes water levels caused strictly by storm runoff or hydraulic effects of ice or both. In marine situations, the level must include maximum waves, wind setup, storm surge, and ultimate mean sea levels under current global climatic forecasts for a 1:100 year design. </li></ul>
  21. 21. Planner’s problems <ul><li>What is happening and will happen to sea-level? </li></ul><ul><li>What is the maximum 100-year wave height? </li></ul><ul><li>What do global climatic forecasts tell us? </li></ul><ul><li>Where do I measure 15 metres from? </li></ul><ul><li>The high water level of a water body is taken to be the 1:100 year return period water level. For a fresh water body, this level includes water levels caused strictly by storm runoff or hydraulic effects of ice or both. In marine situations, the level must include maximum waves, wind setup, storm surge, and ultimate mean sea levels under current global climatic forecasts for a 1:100 year design. </li></ul>
  22. 22. Planner’s answer? High tide mark 1:100 year high water mark?
  23. 23. GEM working group <ul><li>Sept 2005: IUGS Commission “Geoscience for Environmental Management” approved a new working group, “Communicating Environmental Geoscience” </li></ul>
  24. 24. GEM working group <ul><li>Learning how to communicate effectively with non-scientists </li></ul><ul><li>Tool development - developing tools to aid scientists in communication </li></ul><ul><li>Communicating the concepts of risk, probability and natural variation in earth systems. </li></ul><ul><li>Building contacts and relationships with media, politicians and decision makers </li></ul><ul><li>Coordinating existing efforts to improve communication </li></ul><ul><li>Sept 2006: inaugural workshop - here! </li></ul>
  25. 25. <ul><li>Establishment of management group </li></ul><ul><li>Development of working group </li></ul><ul><li>Programme of activities - Workshops? Presentations? Training courses? </li></ul>GEM working group - activities
  26. 26. <ul><li>Engaging non-geoscience community </li></ul><ul><li>Effective programmme, global scope </li></ul><ul><li>Flexible and adaptable </li></ul><ul><li>Scientists must not just educate but debate, listen and learn - change attitudes </li></ul><ul><li>Research bodies need to reward and support efforts in communication </li></ul>GEM working group - challenges

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