(Un)Natural Disasters: Communicating Linkages Between Extreme Events and Climate Change

Short Description

Confusion about the link between human-induced climate change and extreme weather events is fairly common. There is a communication problem that has resulted in this confusion through erroneous messages or unclear linkages between humans and extremem weather events, and a need for more effective communication of what current scientific findings indicate for specific weather events, and provide clear information about linkages attributing the events to humans. This is necessary in order to advise adaptation planning and mitigation options.

This article explores several extreme and several mild events that took place in 2012 and more recently to identify and explain the breakdown in communication. There are many cases in which scientists can say more about linking the underlying factors behind an extreme event. Communicating both over-attribution and under-attribution could hinder decision-making and jeopardize human health. The author explores how effectively people retain different forms of communication about climate change, and suggests that continuing to help people connect the dots on how human activities are linked to different extrememe weather events may lead to greater understanding and better planning for adaptation, and improve behavioral change to act more on climage change.

The author goes on to explore how the media covers climate change and where communication could be altered for more effective action. The article goes on to describe changes in research and confidence in science examining climate change attribution results, and which factors have aligned and attricution statements have had a high level of confidence. The article concludes with seven suggestions for improved communication on climate science, and concludes that this is a community responsability.

Suggested Citation

Hassol, Susan; Torok, Simon; Lewis, Sophie; Luganda, Patrick.  "(Un)Natural disasters: communicating linkages between extreme events and climate change." Bulletin. World Meteorological Organization (vol. 65(2), 2016). https://public.wmo.int/en/resources/bulletin/unnatural-disasters-communi... Accessed February 6, 2017.