Sunday, February 7, 2010

Communicating why biodiversity loss matters for people is essential for reversing it.

An editorial by David Dickson in The failed UN climate talks in Copenhagen in December could hardly have been a less promising prelude to the International Year of Biodiversity, which opened last month (January). As with climate change, the threat of large-scale biodiversity loss — and the need for global political action to stop it — is growing every day.

At a meeting about biodiversity organised by the British government in London in January, Robert Watson, former head of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), warned that damage to the natural environment was approaching "a point of no return", a familiar phrase in the climate change debate.

Both issues face formidable challenges in persuading political leaders and the public of the urgent need to take action. The reasons are complex. But at root is the conflict between the need to radically change our use of natural resources and the desire to maintain current forms of economic growth in both developed and developing countries.

The solutions are equally complicated. Part of the answer, in each case, lies in enhancing the media's ability to communicate messages emerging from the underlying science, so that these accurately reflect both the urgency of the situation, and how ordinary people's lives may be affected….

...Forging an effective communications strategy that avoids these pitfalls is clearly one of the biggest challenges facing the biodiversity community as it plans for the next decade.

And if researchers are to rise to the challenge, they must first firm-up the scientific case for action. The damage that recently-aired scientific flaws are causing climate change campaigns is a reminder that, with the stakes as high as they are, sloppy scientific reasoning can have a broad and lasting impact....

An extinct species, porphyrio albus, from Arthur Phillip: The Voyage Of Governor Phillip To Botany Bay. With An Account Of The Establishment Of The Colonies Of Port Jackson. And Norfolk Island (1789).

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