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AAAS Climate Communication Initiative to Highlight Local Responses

AAAS Leshner Fellow Melissa Kenney provided input on How We Respond at the recent working session. | Ariana Sutton-Grier

AAAS recently convened a group of experts to provide input on “How We Respond,” a new communication initiative that will share the diverse ways communities across the United States are using science to respond to climate change.

The two-year project is intended to empower public and private sector leaders, community-based organizations, scientists and other stakeholders who can influence how climate change issues are factored into decision-making.

As several project advisors and other participants noted during the July 10-11 working session, many people may not be aware of what their communities are already doing about climate change. By calling attention to a range of responses, AAAS seeks to spread the word about initiatives that others may see as opportunities for their communities.

Addressing climate change can be driven by many factors, and responses can benefit other societal goals, such as economic or community development.

AAAS CEO Rush Holt noted that the project will “highlight consequential, real-life scenarios across the U.S. where local leaders are working with scientists and engineers” to reduce emissions and build community-level resilience to current and future climate change impacts.

“How We Respond” will include an interactive website and multimedia stories demonstrating how U.S. communities are responding to climate change, the wide range of benefits created by response actions and how science can help inform effective responses. These products are slated for release in mid-2019 and will be disseminated through targeted media outreach, public discussions and presentations at a variety of forums nationwide.

The AAAS Center for Public Engagement with Science and Technology is leading the “How We Respond” project, following on AAAS’ release of the “What We Know” report in 2014 that summarized the scientific consensus on the realities, risks and responses to climate change in accessible language through the 11-page report, a multimedia website and a successful media outreach campaign.

An advisory committee to the initiative is comprised of experts in climate science and climate change responses from academia, professional societies, state and local governments and non-governmental organizations and includes several AAAS Leshner Fellows from past and current cohorts of the AAAS Leshner Leadership Institute for Public Engagement with Science. Initial funding for “How We Respond” is provided by the Linden Trust for Conservation and Bob and Mary Litterman.

[Associated image: Tom Shockey/ Flickr (CC BY-ND 2.0)]