As I've chronicled at this blog, the IPCC report was a massive failure as a communication moment. The inability of the IPCC report to break through to the wider public about the urgency of climate change is just more evidence that relying on traditional science communication strategies has increasingly limited returns.
Instead, as I describe in my latest "Science and the Media" column at Skeptical Inquirer Online, other public engagement methods are sorely needed. Among options, I suggest reaching the wider public not directly via news coverage, but rather indirectly by way of a "two-step flow of popularization." This strategy, employed widely in marketing and political campaigns, involves recruiting "opinion-leading" citizens to participate in nationally coordinated efforts. These local community members would serve as information brokers, passing on messages about climate change that speak personally and directly to their peers, co-workers, and friends.
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Are you sure it's a failure? In the U.S., could any campaign break through the Iraq War? I'm not sure the IPCC should be blamed entirely.
If there has been a failure, however, it's that solutions haven't been laid out to the public at large (and over and over again)--at least in the IPCC report. There is nothing more frustrating to people (and their political representatives) than stating a problem without giving a solution. I face a similar problem in my work about antibiotic resistance.
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