J. Phys. IV France
Volume 139, December 2006
Page(s) 413 - 423
From Regional Climate Modelling to the Exploration of Venus
C. Boutron
J. Phys. IV France 139 (2006) 413-423

DOI: 10.1051/jp4:2006139027

Communicating air pollution science to the public and politicians

P. Brimblecombe1 and E. Schuepbach2

1  School of Environmental Sciences, University of East Anglia, Norwich NR4 7TJ, UK
2  cabo3/Physical Geography, University of Berne, Switzerland

(Published online: 9 January 2007)

Air pollution of the 21$^{\rm st}$ century is a problem that involves a large number of chemical species and complex reactions between them. Both the public and politicians finds the science difficult to understand, and so, often mistrust the presentation of data and the scientific principles behind air quality. Yet, there are a range of important issues associated with air pollution that concern lay people and policy makers and hence, they have to be presented in a clear and simple way so that informed judgements can be made. Traditionally, the media was the main way to disseminate scientific discovery, but novel methods for engaging scientists in the transfer of scientific know-how to politicians and the general public have emerged in recent years. Scientists receive relatively little training in the area of communication, and often find engaging in more public debates difficult. These including V.I.P. meetings, Public Open Forum, Café Scientifique and various games and role plays. Such outreach events expose us to new challenges, and the skills required to communicate to non-scientists become an increasingly important part of being a scientist.

© EDP Sciences 2006