Simplifying The Complex Language Used In Climate Change

Climate change is so real and we hope to reach many people with this message and create awareness which will hopefully lead to actions. How are we communicating about climate change?




Scientifically speaking, there are so many terminologies that most people would not be familiar with. It is important when communicating, to consider your audience. Most times your audience will not be fellow scientists but regular people. You want them to understand your content. It needs to be less intimidating, with less jargon and more clarity. Otherwise, it appears as if you are talking over your audience.


A new study found that U.S. residents struggle to understand the terms used by scientists to describe climate change. They found them too complex and easily misunderstood. To drum up support for the dire climate change, we need to simplify this otherwise complex topic and use a language that everyone can understand.


Participants in the study were asked to rate their understanding of the following eight terms :


  • Mitigation

  • Carbon Neutral

  • Unprecedented transition

  • Tipping point

  • Sustainable development

  • Carbon dioxide removal

  • Adaptation

  • Abrupt Change


The most difficult term according to this research was “mitigation”. The participants offered some alternatives :


  • Unprecedented transition - “ A change never seen before.”

  • Tipping point - “ Too late to say anything.”


Research that has been published before suggests the following :


  • Limiting sentences to 16 - 20 words.

  • Writing for the public at the level of a 12 or 13-year-old.


Conclusion


In general, it is paramount to differentiate how we communicate to our audience and our peers regardless of the topic or sector we work in, especially if it involves a lot of science


Citation


The University of Southern California. "Climate change challenge: Terminology used by scientists confounds public: Study participants offered helpful suggestions for improving climate language." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 26 August 2021




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