Category: Science Communications

The Cooler: Recycling and Our Mental Categories about Nature

New research says people are more likely to recycle standard-sized pieces of paper over “trashier” looking ones. Could conservation learn something from the findings about how to get people to value nature?

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The Cooler: Don’t Be Such a Science Communicator

Science communication is full of bumper-sticker advice — Don’t Be Such a Scientist, Tell Stories, Not Data, Use the 6×6 Rule. A new essay in PNAS says we should try more science instead.

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Locally Based Monitoring: Are Scientists at Risk of Losing Their Day Jobs?

Are scientists at risk of losing their day jobs? Well, maybe. A recent study shows that people from remote areas of Papua New Guinea are able to collect quantitative data as accurately as trained scientist, but for a fraction of the cost. This is the second essay in a three-part series featuring blogs by the student prize winners at the University of Queensland’s Student Conference on Conservation Science,

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Poorly Known Species at Most Risk from Extinction

Our incomplete knowledge of the biological world can have profound implications for the natural world. The less we know about a species, the higher the risk for extinction. Researcher Lucie Bland presents her findings in this essay, the first in a series of three blogs written by winners of the University of Queensland’s Student Conference on Conservation Science.

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The Cooler: Why Everyone’s Being Rational About Climate Change

A new study from Yale’s Dan Kahan says that everyone is being rational in their positions about climate change — even people who deny that it’s happening. How could that be? And what does it mean for climate communications?

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The Cooler: 5 Lessons for Live Animal Cams

What makes for a great animal live cam feature? Of course you need some compelling animals — but that’s just one key ingredient in the recipe. You need science, community and a willingness to let people project their imaginations onto the critters, too.

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Photography as a Conservation Science Tool

More than pretty pictures: Photography is one of the field biologist’s most reliable tools, helping monitor conservation results and helping share stories of people and the land with new audiences. Conservancy scientist Joseph Kiesecker shares his own odyssey with the art and science of field photography around the world.

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Book Week: ‘Field Notes on Science and Nature’

Peer over the shoulder of noted field biologists in this engaging collection of essays on the science — and art — of note taking. And you might just become a better writer, and better scientist, in the process.

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The Cooler: PLoS ONE and the Panic Over Impact

A free, online-only journal sees its impact ranking drop because it’s so popular with researchers. Should scientists abandon it?

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A Green Contagion: What Could Make Investing in Nature Catch On?

New information and data is never enough to make ideas contagious, says new research. We need to add behavioral economics, social psychology and a healthy dash of emotion, too.

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The Cooler: Does Environmentalism = Totalitarianism?

French philosopher Pascal Bruckner says environmentalism is addicted to apocalyptic thinking, self-hatred and behavior control worthy of totalitarianism. Is his “ecology of admiration” the cure?

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The Cooler: Celebrity Species and the Science Deficit Model

Do conservation NGOs use tigers, lions and pandas to market and fundraise at the expense of other threatened species? David Salt and Hugh Possingham say yes. Here’s why their solution isn’t the answer.

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Why Climate Change Denial May Not Be as Common as You Think

Scientists are such bad communicators, which is why the majority of the public doesn’t believe in climate change despite scientific consensus.

Does this drum beat sound familiar? I can almost hear science communicators Randy Olson and Nancy Baron whispering it in my ear.

Well, Zoe Leviston and colleagues from CSIRO in Australia offer at least some relief. In work published this week in Nature Climate Change, Leviston and coauthors report evidence of a strong “false consensus effect” around climate change belief in Australia.

Essentially, people who believed that climate change was “not happening” grossly overestimated how prevalent that same opinion was in society, whereas those who did believe in climate change (the vast majority) underestimated how common their views were.

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Sanjayan: There’s a Better Way to Communicate about Climate Change

The Orion Magazine blog put up this week an excellent post by Conservancy lead scientist Sanjayan on how his recent trip to Santiago — and the recent, two-day disappearance of that city’s otherwise plentiful water supply — has catalyzed his thinking about how scientists can better communicate the effects of climate change.

While global warming was almost certainly a cause of Santiago’s taps suddenly running dry, Sanjayan writes for Orion that he was surprised there to find that “no one has asked me specifically about climate change — about parts-per-billion, about carbon markets, about a carbon tax, about pipelines, or Kyoto, Copehhagen, or Doha — all the ways U.S. environmentalists and journalists often talk about it.”

Instead, Santiago’s residents wanted to talk about…water supply. So he quickly pivoted to focus on the water issue itself — on a local concern — and conservation measures for the watershed, while avoiding lectures about necessary behavior changes related to emissions. And through this approach, he found people receptive to hearing about climate change.

It’s a fresh and flexible look at why audience-sensitive science communications actually works. Anyone tired of the counterproductive rhetoric and approaches that have dominated climate comms for the last two decades will welcome the model Sanjayan puts forward here.

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What is Cool Green Science?

noun 1. Blog where Nature Conservancy scientists, science writers and external experts discuss and debate how conservation can meet the challenges of a 9 billion + planet.

2. Blog with astonishing photos, videos and dispatches of Nature Conservancy science in the field.

3. Home of Weird Nature, The Cooler, Quick Study, Traveling Naturalist and other amazing features.

Cool Green Science is edited by Matt Miller, the Conservancy's deputy director for science communications, and managed by Lisa Feldkamp, an American Council of Learned Societies fellow with the TNC science communications team. Email us your feedback.

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