Communicating climate change to policy makers

James F. Davis, Richard Berg, Craig Schriffiries, D. Craig Cooper

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


The Geological Society of America is increasing its emphasis on effective communications by GSA and its members to promote the geosciences in the service of society by incorporating geoscience in important public policy decisions. Communicating an understanding of climate change and developing policies to address it are among the most important environmental policy issues today. GSA appointed an expert panel to update its 2006 Position Statement on Global Climate Change. Since 2006, new scientific research has reconciled previously cited differences between global temperature measurements from different observational technologies (satellite vs. surface), led to the convergence of other lines of evidence of change, and increased documentation of the strong influence of anthropogenic greenhouse gases. Recent scientific advances heighten the urgency to inform regional, national, and international policy decision makers. Specific challenges remain, including effectively communicating the science behind climate change scenarios to policy makers and addressing the lack of unanimity within the scientific community. GSA and other science societies can play an important role in communicating the growing scientific consensus as an important background for more effectively informing decision makers about the need for action and strategies for managing the most important parameters. We propose the societies that have adopted policy statements on climate change examine the vintages of their statements and the data employed in their conclusions. A joint statement could be explored with the coordinated efforts of each society participating in updating their understandings and exploring possible areas of common ground and the rationale for greater consensus. The effectiveness of future policy communications can also be enhanced by employing principles obtained from social science research regarding successful policy communication by scientists to policymakers
Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationAbstracts with Programs - Geological Society of America
PublisherGeological Society of America (GSA), Boulder, CO, United States
StatePublished - 2009


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