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Science takes to the microphones to communicate the climate crisis

A recently launched project breaking new ground in Spain, Esfera Climática is a major communication hub that connects media outlets with leading female researchers to increase media coverage of climate issues in the country. Image: Esfera Climática.
A recently launched project breaking new ground in Spain, Esfera Climática is a major communication hub that connects media outlets with leading female researchers to increase media coverage of climate issues in the country. Image: Esfera Climática.

Water is becoming increasingly scarce in some parts of Spain; debate, on the other hand, is not in short supply. What are the factors behind the drought? Is it all down to climate change or is the way we use water to blame too? Are desalination plants a long-term solution? Meanwhile, stretches of the Spanish coast have been left without beaches for tourists to visit. Is this just temporary? Is all the sand going to disappear or can something be done to prevent that happening? Issues like these can generate confusion among the public, who are sometimes given snippets of information rather than the full picture about our changing climate. This, in turn, can lead to climate inaction and the spread of misinformation. 

Esfera Climática (meaning “Climate Sphere” in English) is a major communication hub that has been launched to deal with all that complexity. Its objective is to connect media outlets with leading female researchers to increase media coverage of climate-related matters in Spain. It places particular emphasis on local media and women, who are underrepresented in the media landscape. The pioneering project is being led by the Communication Department of CREAF, in Barcelona, and is supported by the European Climate Foundation(ECF). 

Esfera Climática is building a nationwide network of scientific spokespeople, to whom it offers communication training geared to providing media outlets with perspectives, context and data on climate issues. It also offers journalists personalized support to meet their individual needs and has a notable focus on increasing the presence of climate-related topics in TV weather reports. 

“With Esfera Climática, one of our aims is to transform the way the media cover the climate crisis, reaching all sections and more local media outlets, and highlighting the essential role science plays. Another is for the scientific community — especially women — to get involved in this social debate and feel comfortable providing opinions, data and solutions in front of a microphone. We’ll be avoiding techno-optimism and, if necessary, won’t hesitate to criticize some of politicians’ proposed alternatives”.

ANNA RAMON, , head of CREAF’s Communication Department and co-creator of Esfera Climática.

In-depth perspectives on the climate crisis 

Esfera Climática’s spokespeople promote a more complete, diverse, multidisciplinary and accurate narrative about challenges and solutions related to climate change. The intention is not to focus on the already widely known effects of the climate crisis but to reflect on how to tackle it, exploring questions such as how cities can adapt to heatwaves, whether the impact of wildfires can be minimized, and how drought will affect tourism and what can be done about it. 

The experts who work with Esfera Climática are available to the media to enable journalists to approach issues from different social, economic and political angles, and always with the benefit of a multidisciplinary scientific perspective. Logically, thus, those experts represent a variety of different fields, from physics and biology to anthropology, philosophy and economics. The network already includes researchers who are highly regarded in their respective areas of specialization, such as Annelies Broekman (CREAF) and Regina Lafuente (IESA-CSIC).

“Through my involvement in Esfera Climática, I hope to raise awareness about the social dimension of drought, which goes much further than analysing the population affected by water scarcity; it also encompasses the importance of citizen participation in new water governance models,” explains Lafuente

“There is no one-size-fits-all solution for understanding and coping with this crisis”.

“The scientists who are part of Esfera Climática draw on our different perspectives and disciplines to impart a message that is more contextualized and less simplified, because an informed society drives change,” says Broekman

Spokespeople for the climate 

To improve climate-related communication, the project will offer its network of spokespeople comprehensive training to refine their communication skills, so as to ensure that they are not only capable of getting the nuances of climate science across to the public effectively, but also of creating influential narratives that convey urgency and provide science-based solutions. 

The training will be delivered both in person and online. Esfera Climática will also conduct follow-up activities so that the experts can continue to receive resources and mentoring, with a view to enhancing their communication and, thus, reaching a wider, more diverse audience. “It’s enriching to be able to talk to researchers from other institutions, to share work and ideas that we feel need to be given media coverage,” remarks Broekman

The ultimate objective is for those who are part of the network to become opinion leaders, providing a critical and scientific point of view on topical issues related to the climate crisis. That may involve participating in reports with various contributors or proactively writing opinion pieces, following the recent example of Jesús Vargas Molina, a lecturer at the University of Málaga and member of the Citizen Observatory of Drought, who is also an Esfera Climática spokesperson. 

Presence in weather reports 

In addition, Esfera Climática is looking to collaborate with TV channels to smoothly integrate climate data into weather reports, with the aim of offering viewers timely, contextualized information. An example of such collaboration was the coverage of the International Day of Forests, through which the problems forests face against the current backdrop of drought and climate change were addressed from different perspectives. 

“Weather reports are widely followed and enjoy great social recognition. Taking advantage of them to provide rigorous, verified information on climate change and its effects is vital”.

ANDREA ARNAL, coordinator of Esfera Climática.

A rapidly expanding network 

Esfera Climática is growing fast and is seeking the participation of journalists and scientists alike.

If you work in the media, being part of the project will give you access to a diverse range of experts and perspectives on key aspects of climate change. We will regularly email you information that you will be able to use in reports or to clear up any doubts you might have. To benefit from this service, please go to the Esfera Climática website, sign up, and tell us that you want to receive our messages. 

If you are a scientist, collaborating with us will enable you to broaden your impact and convey crucial, urgent messages to the media and society. Additionally, we offer you training, visibility, and networking opportunities.If you would like to participate in the project (or know someone who you think would be a good fit), please contact us via the form at the bottom of the Esfera Climática website.

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