Reporting science of climate change in South Africa

Irrigation of staples in South Africa will be impacted by projections of 1-4 °C increase in temperatures. © CSIR

South Africa's Tshwane University of Technology (TUT) and the Applied Centre for Climate and Earth Systems Science (ACCESS) hosted the first in a series of workshops for scientists and journalists. The event aimed to inform the general public on science-related news that have an impact on their and the planet’s future.

The workshop, titled “Reporting the science of climate change” took place in Pretoria, South Africa, from 4 to 5 June 2012. It focused on climate change science, as well as on key risks to Southern Africa, national and regional response strategies, and particularly on how best to communicate complex information to the general public. >> Read more about the workshop
 

Participants from the world of journalism

George Claassen, Journalism Department at Stellenbosch University

We cannot afford the public not having correct understanding of climate change and believing in a conspiracy by scientists and politicians. The survival of our planet is at stake.



Mandi Smallhorne, freelance science journalist

If the scientist recognises what is unique selling point of a particular piece of research, the journalist is going to pick up on it more easily.



Zeenat Abdool, Channel Africa, SABC Radio

Climate change is not only an environmental issue, it is a human interest story that is part of various other issues, such as gender, politics, health, HIV and AIDS.



Participants from the world of science

Dr Emma Archer, principal climate change scientist at CSIR

The workshop illustrated to me that there is responsibility on both sides and there is a great opportunity for scientists and journalists to learn from each other.



Dr Bob Scholes, systems ecologist at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR)

There is a big gap between scientists and the media and, by extension, between scientists and the public. And this kind of workshop helps to close this gap from both sides.



Dr Guy Midgley, Director of climate change at the South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI)

Journalists should be able to say to scientists, ‘I don’t understand you, and therefore there is no way that my readership is going to understand you. Could you explain it in simple terms?’



Dr Carl Palmer, scientist at ACCESS

Journalists have a key role to play in educating the general population up to the basic standards so that we can engage with issues like climate change in a more meaningful way.



UNESCO representative

Jaco du Toit, Advisor in Communication and Information, UNESCO’s Office in Windhoek

There is a very important role for the media to play in giving a voice to the voiceless to enable them to express how they are affected by climate change.



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