The coronavirus notwithstanding, climate change may be the most serious challenge society is facing in the 21st century – at least it is the most serious environmental challenge. The basic science is very clear, and the consensus among scientists almost unanimous, even though climate is a very complex system and hence there are still many scientific uncertainties.
Whereas virologists and epidemiologists have been accepted immediately as important, trustworthy, and knowledgeable advisors by policy makers and the public when it comes to deciding about very substantial measures against corona, climate scientists seem to have a much harder stand. Is this likely to change in the future? Will the (successful) scientific response to corona elevate scientific advice also for climate change? Or are the immediate, individual threats of corona and the long-term, abstract dangers of climate change so different in their perception that communication and policy advice cannot be applied in a similar way?
The crises of corona and climate change are similar in yet another aspect, which is well known to scientists, but difficult for politics and society to handle: While the general nature of the threat is clear and undeniable, the devil is in the details: data is incomplete, different studies produce different results, with different consequences, and strategies deemed successful may seem ineffective in the light of new findings.
In the debate participants will discuss these aspects and try to define how climate change can be communicated most effectively.
- Levke Caesar, Postdoctoral researcher, Potsdam Institute of Climate Impact Research, Earth System Analysis, Germany
- Steven Chu, William R. Kenan, Jr. Professor of Physics, Stanford University, Physics Department, USA
- Mario J. Molina, Centro Mario Molina para Estudios Estratégicos sobre Energía y Medio Ambiente A.C., Mexico
- Brian P. Schmidt, Vice-Chancellor, The Australian National University, Australia
- Georg Schütte, General-Secretary, Volkswagen Foundation, , Germany
Moderator: Brian Malow, Science Communicator, USA