3.3 The impact of ‘scientific uncertainty’

Research has shown that uncertainty is a key aspect of scientific information that affects how information is perceived when translated into media stories. Scientists do not find it easy to put the details of scientific uncertainty into everyday language. This has led to strong messages of uncertainty being stated in the media, which, in turn, has tended to create a boundary between climate scientists and the public. Further research has shown that where a context is given for scientists' statements in media stories this helped mitigate the problems of uncertainty and that greater levels of understanding lead to stronger intent to take action. Recent research at the University of Liverpool suggests that, with public understanding of climate change still poor, the issue will not be taken seriously until the media highlights its significance. The polling company lpsos-MORI found that half of people in the UK are still uncertain about the causes of climate change, with research suggesting that this is unlikely to improve while coverage is restricted to the broadsheets and while other topics – health, crime and the economy – retain a higher editorial priority.

3.2 The role of the media

3.4 Individual beliefs and attitudes