GREENLAND, 2008

Scientists use a special dye to trace and measure the speed of movement of the Russell Glacier, near the village of Kangerlussuaq

Cooper
© Ashley Cooper / Nature Picture Library

The Eurobarometer researchers have been monitoring Europeans' perception of climate change for years, compiling specific reports that show how awareness is growing in Europe.
But to further increase that awareness, we have to consider communication strategies and the quality of information published. The theme of climate change is presented in the media in negative terms, associated with words portraying risk, danger and catastrophe, in a content of global social risk.
This narration, so focussed on the dramatic nature of individual climate events and not on the entire process, leads to us putting the theme of climate in a clearly defined time frame that is way too narrow. The risk is of losing awareness of the effects of climate change in the long term (meaning one or two centuries) because we focus on a short timespan of about ten years, linked to our experience. Glacial melting should lead to a wider awareness that highlights the seriousness of the process that we are observing.
Normalisation of the negative conditions of climate change risks becoming a major communications problem that may lead to a short-circuit between perception of risk and its real assessment.

Jessica Marzaro