Frequently Asked Questions

What are the goals of the Climate Communications Initiative?

  • Address public questions surrounding climate change by leveraging our robust and diverse body of work on the topic.
  • Provide easy access to evidence-based understanding of climate change to help advance the dialogue and inform responses.
  • Coordinate efforts across the institution to facilitate rapid and effective communication.
  • Apply best practices of science communication, including those identified in Communicating Science Effectively: A Research Agenda (2017).
  • Develop innovative approaches that could be adapted to other contentious topics addressed by the National Academies.

Why is the National Academies launching this initiative now?

  • The NASEM has an extensive collection of consensus reports and ongoing activities across the depth and breadth of scientific disciplines covered by the institution to offer a suite of authoritative and objective materials and engagement opportunities.
  • In 2017, the NASEM released Communicating Science Effectively: A Research Agenda. The Climate Communications Initiative will provide the institution with an opportunity to put those recommendations directly into practice, while building on all of the work maintained at Climate Change at the National Academies.
  • The discourse about climate has become increasingly polarized and often fails to account for the complex range of public concerns. As a scientifically credible, independent, objective, and non-partisan entity, through its multidisciplinary approach to answering the toughest questions, the National Academies are well positioned to advance the public discourse in a way that transcends ideological divides.
  • The NASEM can provide a way forward on scientific topics that are contentious, as we did on the topic of evolution a decade ago.

What will the Advisory Committee for the Climate Communications Initiative do?

  • The NASEM is putting together a committee of experts in climate science, climate impacts and economics, response options, science communication, social media engagement, science education, and other issues deemed to be “controversial” in public discourse, to help guide the planning for this initiative.
  • This Advisory Committee will meet in person, gather information on both the internal landscape of climate-related and communications activities across the NASEM and the external landscape of groups communicating climate issues, and write (with the help of Academies staff) a strategic plan for how the NASEM should engage in this space.
  • The plan will then be submitted for approval by the NASEM Governing Board. Once approved, the Advisory Committee will continue to provide ongoing guidance on the implementation of the plan.

What will the projects and activities under the CCI look like?

  • The specific projects and activities under the CCI will be determined by the Advisory Committee’s plan. This could include print and multimedia products designed to be easily understood by target audiences, web info graphics, specific updates to out-of-date resources, or new rapid-response mechanisms to answer questions from the community.

How will this effort coordinate with other activities at the National Academies?

  • The CCI Advisory Committee will draw from all on-going and previous work from across the NASEM in this space, including such activities as the current Climate Change at the National Academies web presence and recently-released report: Communicating Science Effectively: A Research Agenda (2017).
  • Staff from all levels of the institution are built into the work plan to help inform the Advisory Committee as they conduct their work, to establish coordination with other on-going communications activities (e.g., America Asks, Science Answers), and to make sure institutional policies are followed to ensure a strong and credible product.

How is this effort being supported?

  • The initial planning phase for this activity is supported by internal National Academies’ endowment funds and private philanthropy.
  • We are currently seeking funds from other donors and organizations to support the implementation of the Advisory Committee’s plan and continued work under the initiative. If you or your organization are interested in contributing to this effort, contact Amanda Staudt.