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Tag Archive: communications

  1. Value of landowner- biologist interactions in conservation of private lands

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    • Landowners that accompanied biologists on monitoring site visits had higher agency trust and more positive perceptions of program outcomes.
    • Result mailings did not improve landowner perceptions of program outcomes or agency trust, but did provide benefits such as increased landowner knowledge about birds.
    • Our findings underline the importance and potential of direct interactions between conservation biologists and landowners as a potentially worthwhile component of future conservation program evaluations on private lands.

    April 4 2018  read full PLOSOne publication here

    Natural resource conservation on privately owned lands is critically important for the protection of biodiversity and ecosystem services in the United States and around the world [1]. With greater than 70 percent of the contiguous United States held under private ownership, private landowner cooperation is fundamental for achieving goals such as wildlife habitat conservation on a landscape scale [2, 3]. Private land conservation takes many forms, from the establishment of conservation easements to active management approaches such as buffer strip installation or sustainable timber harvests. In the United States, federal conservation programs funded by the Farm Bill (Agricultural Act of 2014) and administered by agencies such as the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) are the largest funding source for private land conservation [3]. These programs provide financial and technical assistance to enable landowners to conduct conservation practices that benefit individual landowners, society, and the environment [4].

    Outreach is a central tool used to encourage private landowners to undertake conservation, through participation in federal programs or otherwise. Conservation related outreach includes many forms of communication and stakeholder engagement techniques, such as educational programs, personal contacts, and informational mailings [5]….

    Lutter SH, Dayer AA, Heggenstaller E, Larkin JL (2018) Effects of biological monitoring and results outreach on private landowner conservation management. PLoS ONE 13(4): e0194740. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0194740

    Abstract

    Sustained management efforts by private landowners are crucial for the long-term success of private land natural resource conservation and related environmental benefits. Landowner outreach is a primary means of recruiting private landowners into voluntary conservation incentive programs, and could also help sustain conservation behaviors through time. However, evaluation of outreach targeting landowners during or after participation in natural resource conservation incentive programs is lacking. We assessed two methods of landowner outreach associated with a Natural Resources Conservation Service incentive program targeting effective management of early successional forest habitat on private land in the Appalachians and Upper Great Lakes regions of the United States. While early successional forest habitat benefits many wildlife species, the program target species were the Golden-winged Warbler (Vermivora chrysoptera) and American Woodcock (Scolopax minor). After habitat management through the program occurred, biological technicians monitored wildlife and vegetation on enrolled properties and results were communicated to landowners in mailed packets. Our research focused on whether landowner interactions with technicians or receipt of result mailings could influence landowner post-program management intentions and management-related cognitions (e.g., agency trust, perceptions of outcomes). We conducted a telephone survey with landowners from January to May 2017, and analyzed survey data using quantitative group comparisons and qualitative coding methods. Landowners that accompanied biological technicians on monitoring site visits had higher agency trust and more positive perceptions of program outcomes. Result mailings did not improve landowner perceptions of program outcomes or agency trust, but did provide benefits such as increased landowner knowledge about birds. Neither outreach method was associated with more positive landowner post-program management intentions. Our findings underline the importance and potential of direct interactions between conservation biologists and landowners. These two forms of non-traditional outreach administered by biologists could be a worthwhile component of future conservation program evaluations on private lands.

  2. Smartphones and data centers harm the environment, study shows

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    • Data centres and smartphones will be the most damaging information and communications technologies to the environment by 2040, according to new research
    • For every text message, for every phone call, every video you upload or download, there’s a data centre making this happen. Telecommunications networks and data centres consume a lot of energy to serve you and most data centres continue to be powered by electricity generated by fossil fuels. It’s the energy consumption we don’t see…

    March 1, 2018 McMaster University Read full ScienceDaily article here

    …[Scientists] studied the carbon footprint of consumer devices such as smartphones, laptops, tablets, desktops as well as data centres and communication networks as early as 2005…. Not only did they discover that software is driving the consumption of information and communications technologies (ICT), they also found that ICT has a greater impact on emissions than we thought and most emissions come from production and operation.

    ….Among all the devices, trends suggest that by 2020, the most damaging devices to the environment are smartphones. While smartphones consume little energy to operate, 85% of their emissions impact comes from production. A smartphone’s chip and motherboard require the most amount of energy to produce as they are made up of precious metals that are mined at a high cost….

    …”Communication and data centres have to go under renewable energy now. The good news is Google and Facebook data centres are going to run on renewable energy. But there needs to be a policy in place so that all data centres follow suit. Also, it’s not sustainable to have a two-year subsidized plan for smartphones.”…

    Lotfi Belkhir, Ahmed Elmeligi. Assessing ICT global emissions footprint: Trends to 2040 & recommendations. Journal of Cleaner Production, 2018; 177: 448 DOI: 10.1016/j.jclepro.2017.12.239

  3. Scientists Should be Encouraged to Speak Out about Public Issues (Scientific American editorial)

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    • Society suffers when scientists are discouraged from speaking out

    Feb 2018 Issue  Read the full Scientific American Editorial

    Scientists should be speaking up about all sorts of science-based issues that affect our lives. Especially now, when Trump administration officials tell us that climate change is debatable and that killing African elephants can benefit the herd, scientists should be constantly exposing misinformation, bogus alternative facts and fake science.

    Unfortunately, the greatest obstacle to informing the public may be the very universities that many scientists work for.

    When Scientific American editors talk with Ph.D. students, postdoctoral researchers and early-career scientists, they often tell us that an adviser or senior department member has instructed them not to write blogs or articles for the general public, speak at public events or talk with reporters and to stay away from social media. In a 2016 survey of 61 chairs of U.S. and Canadian medical departments, only 23 percent said it was important for faculty to participate in blogs hosted by medical journals. Never mind personal blogs and those in the media…..

     

  4. Strong support globally for ocean protection

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    January 10, 2018 University of California – San Diego read full ScienceDaily article

    People around the world strongly support ocean conservation measures, according to a new study of public perceptions of marine threats and protection.

    The public widely believes that the marine environment is under threat from human activities, and supports actions to protect the marine environment in their region, according to a new study to be published in the February issue of the journal Ocean and Coastal Management.

    The study, conducted by an international team of researchers, reviews a set of public perception surveys of marine issues that reached over 32,000 people in 21 countries. It provides one of the first systematic comparisons of the public perceptions of marine threats and protection around the world.

    The researchers found that 70% of respondents believe that the marine environment is under threat from human activities, and 45% believe the threat is high or very high. Survey respondents identified the greatest threats as pollution and fishing, followed by habitat alteration, climate change, and biodiversity loss….

    Heike K. Lotze, Haley Guest, Jennifer O’Leary, Arthur Tuda, Douglas Wallace. Public perceptions of marine threats and protection from around the world. Ocean & Coastal Management, 2018; 152: 14 DOI: 10.1016/j.ocecoaman.2017.11.004

  5. How Much Has ‘Climate Change’ Been Scrubbed From Federal Websites? A Lot.

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    • the authors found significant loss of public access to information about climate change

    by Coral Davenport January 10 2018 Read full NY Times article here

    Nearly a year into the Trump administration, mentions of climate change have been systematically removed, altered or played down on websites across the federal government, according to a report made public Wednesday.

    The findings of the report, by the Environmental Data and Governance Initiative, an international coalition of researchers and activist groups, are in keeping with the policies of a president who has proudly pursued an agenda of repealing environmental regulationsopening protected lands and waters to oil and gas drilling, withdrawing the United States from the Paris climate accordshrinking the boundaries of federal monuments, and appointing top officials who have questioned or denied the established science of human-caused climate change.

    The authors of the study said that the removal of the words “climate change” from government websites, and a widespread effort to delete or bury information on climate change programs, would quite likely have a detrimental impact.

    “We have found significant loss of public access to information about climate change,” the authors wrote.

    “Why are these federal agencies putting so much effort into ‘science cleansing’ instead of using time and resources to fulfill agency responsibilities, such as protecting the environment and advancing energy security?” they wrote. “Removing information regarding climate change from federal websites does not affect the reality of climate change, but may serve to obfuscate the subject and inject doubt regarding the scientific consensus that climate change is happening and that it is caused by human activity.”…

  6. Some can’t be persuaded on climate change. So now what?

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    • One more round of “messaging” won’t do it.
    • Just about every substantial policy shift in the US in the past 20 years has been a matter of one side overwhelming the other — of conflict, not consensus.
    • Agonism (thanks to Henderson, a climate-focused social scientist, for the tweet tip) is the view that in some contexts and within limits, political conflict is good. Sometimes conflict clarifies, educates, and leads to progress. Sometimes the right strategy is to grab and own an issue, to exclude (not invite) the other party, to tie the issue to core coalition values and use the intensity to increase the political power of the coalition.

    …..Well, as I’ve written many times, public opinion is not some great enduring mystery. There’s a decent consensus in the social sciences on what most moves public opinion: elite cues.

    And so it is with climate change. Drexel University sociologist Robert Brulle has been all over this for years — see, e.g., this recent paper with McGill’s Jason Carmichael. Science-based educational campaigns have virtually no effect on climate opinion, they found. Weather events and economic swings have some temporary effects. What moves the needle are elite cues.

    That’s just a fancy way of saying that people care more about something when they see it around them, when they read it in the newspaper, see it on TV, hear politicians discussing it, see activists in the streets marching about it, watch celebrities pretending to care about it. Those are all elite cues.

    That’s the stuff that shapes ordinary people’s opinions, on all sides of the political spectrum. Very few individuals have the time and wherewithal to investigate the world’s woes independently. They absorb the values and worldviews of their tribes….

    ….the good news is that if conservative elite opinion swung around on climate change, conservative mass opinion would swing easily behind. Nobody really cares about “issues” like this beyond how they inform social identity anyway. Very few people beyond the Heritage Foundation have any independent commitment to flat-earthism on climate.

    ….Just about every substantial policy shift in the US in the past 20 years has been a matter of one side overwhelming the other — of conflict, not consensus. Some were “bipartisan” in the sense that a few legislators crossed the aisle, but partisan unity is more and more the rule in US politics. We have “weak parties and strong partisanship,” as political scientist Julia Azari puts it, which makes substantial compromise more and more difficult.

    “Pundits who say that ‘nothing can get done without bipartisan support’,” write Steven Teles, Heather Hurlburt, and Mark Schmitt in one of my favorite essays on polarization, “no longer have the evidence on their side.” In fact, that increasingly looks like the only way anything ever gets done….

    ….Agonism (thanks to Henderson, a climate-focused social scientist, for the tweet tip) is the view that in some contexts and within limits, political conflict is good. Sometimes conflict clarifies, educates, and leads to progress.

    Sometimes the right strategy is to grab and own an issue, to exclude (not invite) the other party, to tie the issue to core coalition values and use the intensity to increase the political power of the coalition.

    ….It may just be that we’re not all going to get along — that the only way to move forward on this is to fight it out.

    If that’s true, then what matters most on the left is not the breadth of agreement, but the depth. It is intensity that wins political battles. The only way Democrats can achieve progress on this is to intensify the fight.

    Tepid “free market” messages, forever hoping to win over an unwinnable right, won’t do that. They do nothing to inspire those who already care and are primed for action.

    ….The weather is only getting worse, young people are only getting more engaged, and clean energy is only getting cheaper. Climate change and clean energy will be winning issues in the long term.

    Why not claim and own them while it’s still possible? Then the GOP’s motto in the 2020s can be: “Hey, We Like Clean Energy Too!”

    In reality, Democrats probably don’t have the wherewithal to mount that kind of fight. But that’s the only thing that has a chance of breaking the stalemate. The quest to persuade US conservatives on climate change has been extraordinarily long, vigorous, and well-documented. It has also been largely fruitless. Perhaps it’s time for a little agonism.

  7. Communicating the scientific consensus on climate change helped neutralize partisan motivated reasoning and bridge the conservative-liberal divide

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    • Communicating a simple fact about the scientific consensus on human-caused climate change did not reinforce political polarization

    December 11 2017 read full article from the Center for Climate Communications at George Mason University here

    …Several recent studies have found that the more education conservatives have, the less likely they are to accept scientific findings about climate change, suggesting a motivated reasoning effect. This has led to the concern that attempts to increase public knowledge might exacerbate political polarization on the issue. Yet, most prior studies have been correlational, which leaves the most important question unanswered: Does communicating climate change facts cause issue polarization?…
    ….we found that communicating a simple fact about the scientific consensus on human-caused climate change did not reinforce political polarization. Quite the opposite: communicating the scientific consensus helped neutralize partisan motivated reasoning and bridge the conservative-liberal divide, at least on this key fact. These findings proved robust across ideology and education levels and build on our prior work illustrating that perceived scientific consensus acts as a “gateway” to other key beliefs about climate change (Ding et al., 2011; van der Linden et al., 2015).
    van der Linden, S., Leiserowitz, A., & Maibach, E. (2017). Scientific agreement can neutralize politicization of facts. Nature Human Behaviour. doi: 10.1038/s41562-017-0259-2.
    The article is available here to those with a subscription to Nature Human Behaviour. If you would like to request a copy, please send an email to climatechange@yale.edu, with the Subject Line: Request Scientific Agreement Paper.
  8. Clarion call for scientists: ‘Use your voice … or lose it’

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    …There’s a growing chorus of researchers arguing now that they must speak out. “If you’re a climate scientist at this critical time you don’t have Miranda rights,” Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory atmospheric scientist Benjamin Santer told a Capitol Hill audience this week. “You don’t have the right to remain silent.”

    …”We encourage scientists to speak up and communicate both about the meaning and the value of the science that they are working on,” AGU Executive Director Christine McEntee said in an interview. It’s also important, she said, for scientists to share what they know with the public and policymakers “so science can be used as a factor in decision-making.”…

    three former EPA officials who urged the Trump administration in an essay published yesterday in The New England Journal of Medicine to take “to heart” lessons from President Reagan’s initial attempts to weaken the agency’s scientific work (Greenwire, March 2)….

    …In a paper published last month in the journal Scientific Reports, Santer and his colleagues fact-checked EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt’s congressional testimony on global warming and concluded that his claims about the climate system were wrong (Greenwire, May 25). “Now at this time, with folks dismissing scientific evidence and understanding, it’s critically important to use your voice — use it or lose it if you’re a climate scientist,” Santer said this week in an interview….

  9. Reframing climate programs in an era of denial: Lessons from Australia

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    By Lisa Cornish 22 March 2017  see full article here

    …Following Australia’s first budget under former Prime Minister Tony Abbott, Australia similarly saw climate change shifted off the agenda. Its impact on the aid budget saw climate change downplayed as a priority, with terms trickling into programs associated with natural disasters, food security and agriculture.

    The impact of the U.S. decision, which essentially denies the global challenges of climate change, will be dramatically felt in African nations suffering from drought and famine and Pacific Island nations disappearing under rising the rising sea level.

    Unless climate programs are reframed. Here’s how.

    From climate adaption to disaster resilience

    For Pacific Island countries, climate adaption can include preparing for the increasing onset of natural disasters by building infrastructure, response systems and strategies. It can also include preparing communities with health-related training and equipment to save lives following a natural disaster.

    The concern of not investing in these program is that unprepared communities will see loss of life and more money will be required to help them to recover. These are important programs to continue.

    By reframing climate adaptation programs as disaster resilience programs, the conversation can change to responding to natural disasters in a cheaper and more effective manner — before the disaster hits and large sums of money are required as part of a humanitarian response.

    From clean energy and low emissions to economical living

    An important component of the aid program is clean energy projects focused on delivering solar and renewable power, services, and technology to people living in remote and rural communities.

    A key factor in the success of these programs is not only their ability to deliver green solutions, but their approach to delivering critical infrastructure without building large systems delivering to entire regions or countries.

    And they are important in building agricultural capability, empowering women, creating strong economies and building future trading partners.

    The economic feasibility of these programs may be an important factor in maintaining them in the long and short term.

    From climate science to knowledge sharing

    While there will never be a replacement for direct funds to countries, adjusting scientific programs that encourage knowledge sharing could reduce program budgets while building capacity in developing countries.

    Monitoring carbon emissions, mapping forests and monitoring changes to flora and fauna requires specialized knowledge that should exist within a developing country for sustainability of a program.

    It is not only financially beneficial but can create ongoing mentoring networks maintained after programs end.

    A focus on food security and building agriculture markets

    The ability to feed future populations is directly linked to farming communities adapting to changing climate and environmental conditions. But if we keep climate out of it, we can focus purely on the ability to deliver new approaches and measures to generate higher yield from crops and produce nutritious options to prevent a range of diseases, including those associated with obesity.

    Increasing yield and the quality of outputs not only improves the ability to feed global populations, it builds agricultural markets and stronger economies in developing countries.

    Food security programs, meanwhile, not only secure future food needs of developing countries, but also of Americans.

    Link programs to global and regional stability

    For a president strong on security at home, there is convincing research to link climate-related development issues to social, economic and political instability, which can also build ferment.

    Reframing climate programs to link their operations to reducing instability and improving safety of Americans may get the positive attention it needs.

    In the end, climate change programs can achieve a lot, and changing terminology and key phrases may mean the difference between programs being maintained or cut in the predicted aid budget slash.