Effective graphic presentation of climate-change risk information? (Science of science communication course exercise)
In today's session of Science of Science Communication course, we are discussing readings on effective communication of of probabilistic risk information. The topic is actually really cool, with lots of empirical work on the mechanisms that tend to interfere with (indeed, bias) comprehension of such information as well as on communication strategies--including graphic presentation--that help to counteract these dynamics.
The focus (this week & next) is primarily on presentation of risk and other forms of probabilistic information in the context of personal health-care decisionmaking.
But someone did happen to show me this climate-change risk graphic from InformationIsBeautiful.net and ask me if I thought it would be effective.
I passed it on to the students in the class and asked them to answer the question based on several alternative assumptions about the messenger, audience, and goal of the communication.
a. A climate change advocacy group, which is considering whether to include the graphic in a USA Today advertisement in hope of generating public support for carbon tax.
b. Freelance author considering submitting an article to Mother Jones magazine.
c. Freelance author considering submitting an article to the Weekly Standard.
d. A local municipal official presenting information to citizens in a coastal state who will be voting on a referendum to authorize a government-bond issuance to finance adaptation-related infrastructure improvements (e.g., building sea-walls and storm surge gates, moving coastal roads inland).
e. The author of an article to be submitted for peer review in a scholarly “public policy” journal.
f. A teacher of a high school "current affairs" class who is considering distributing the graphic to students.
Curious what you all think, too. (If you can't make it out on your screen, click on it, and then click again on the graphic on the page to which you are directed.)