Tag Archives: sociology

Avoiding “We Told You So”: An Appeal for the Reframing of Scientific Communication

The image of the lone polar bear has become almost ubiquitous in step with growing awareness of climate change. So why hasn’t the scientific community been able to convince the world to act accordingly? (Image Credit: cocoparisienne, Pixabay license, Image Cropped)

During the late 1970s, in the wake of intense scientific research showing that chlorofluorocarbons were leading to the depletion of the ozone layer, the world took action. By 1987, the world had seen the signing of the Montreal Treaty, which practically banned the use of CFCs, imposing significant economic costs on those who signed. Since then, the hole in the Ozone layer has retreated. It’s a powerful example of science identifying a problem, finding a solution, and then presenting both the urgency of both to the public. Scientific communication at its best, surely. So with recent steps backward in environmental conservation law worldwide, despite almost global consensus on the negative impact of well-studied worldwide environmental phenomena, is science communication no longer as effective?

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Ian Winfield: Advancing Scientific Communication Through Cultural Anthropology

Ian Winfield, a freshwater ecologist, has been using methods rooted in cultural anthropology to conserve freshwater ecosystems in northern England

Image Credit: Ian Winfield, CC BY 2.0, Image Cropped

Scientific methods of communication with the public have been evolving ever since the first Universities were opened in the 1200s. Recent times have seen communication evolve in step with the digital age. But given our lack of progress in key areas in which scientists have long known we face problems, such as climate change, biodiversity and ocean pollution, one wonders if we’re doing our job well enough.

Ian Winfield is a freshwater ecologist at the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology in Lancaster, UK. Ian has spent years working in Northern England in an effort to conserve its populations of the Arctic charr, a common environmentally-demanding fish which has seen many of its populations in the polar regions come under increasing pressure. I took the chance to sit down with Ian at the recent International Charr Symposium in Duluth, Minnesota, and we discussed his experiences using cultural anthropology to encourage ecological action outside of the scientific community.

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