[ASC-list] Are we rabbits in the headlights of climate change?

Liese Coulter l.coulter at griffith.edu.au
Tue Dec 11 21:40:40 UTC 2012

*(Apologies for cross posting- I sent this to the ASC discussion list in
error- though as we work with the media to communicate science it speaks to
a recent online discussion. If you are not a member of the ASC discussion
list consider signing up on *
*Decision making under uncertainty*, a new report funded by the National
Climate Change Adaptation Research Facility (NCCARF), shows decision-makers
may delay taking action on adaptation and risk planning until the
uncertainties in climate change information are reduced – a situation which
may never happen or may occur only after the optimal time for action has

Researchers from the University of Newcastle showed significant differences
between the opinions of decision makers and scientists when it comes to
thinking about climate change information. For a start, most
decision-makers (67%) thought that more certainty is necessary to enable
effective decisions while only 29% of climate scientists agreed.

At the same time most people who use climate information (73%) thought that
uncertainty associated with future climate projections would reduce within
the next five to ten years compared with only half (51%) of climate
scientists expecting more certain information in the next decade. The study
also found problems in how uncertainty was communicated and understood, and
in the lack of tools and methods available to deal with uncertainty.

Project leader Danielle Verdon-Kidd said “The project confirmed a gap
between decision-maker needs and science capability, particularly with
respect to uncertainty, communication and packaging of climate information.
This gap has been a barrier to successful climate change adaptation.”

The report calls for a Commonwealth government ‘knowledge broker’ program
to help address the great challenge for successful climate change
adaptation, namely, to understand and overcome the barriers to successful
adaptation in the face of uncertainty about the future.

Co-author Anthony Kiem said “There is a role for a ‘knowledge broker’ to
both help scientists understand what information is needed by decision
makers and to make climate science information more useful for decision
makers. This is more than glossy brochures, websites and presentations by
climate scientists. Education and communication of uncertainty needs to be
improved so that decision-makers are aware of all the caveats and what can
realistically be expected from climate science now and into the future”.

Please cite the report as: Verdon-Kidd, DC; Kiem, AS; Austin, EK; *Decision
making  under uncertainty – Bridging the gap between end user needs and
climate science
*, National Climate Change Adaptation Research Facility, Gold Coast pp.116.

*Media enquiries:*
Liese Coulter, NCCARF Knowledge Communication Manager: 0402 084 661
l.coulter at griffith.edu.au
*Interview with Anthony Kiem:*
Tess Campbell, Media and Public Relations Officer, 02 4921 8714,
Tess.Campbell at newcastle.edu.au
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