13 Dec 2022
13 Dec 2022
Status: this preprint is currently under review for the journal GC.

BOLD STATEMENTS in environmental and climate science communication

Theodoros Karpouzoglou1,2, Morven Muilwijk1, Julius Lauber1,2, Apostolos Tsiouvalas3,4, and Johanna Brehmer-Moltmann5 Theodoros Karpouzoglou et al.
  • 1Norwegian Polar Institute, Fram Centre, Tromsø, Norway
  • 2Geophysical Institute, University of Bergen, Bergen, Norway
  • 3Norwegian Centre for the Law of the Sea (NCLOS), UiT The Arctic University of Norway, Tromsø, Norway
  • 4The Arctic Institute - Center for Circumpolar Security Studies, Washington, DC, US
  • 5Faculty of Geosciences, University of Bremen, Bremen, Germany

Abstract. Environmental and climate science communication often results in the production of appealing but, at times, inaccurate statements, i.e. "bold statements". Such statements are common in the media, however, in-cases, are used by scientists alike. We discuss the concept of such statements seeking to identify their origin and purpose, as well as the benefits and threats of such communication methods. By bringing bold statements in context to the paradigm of climate science communication we argue that their use is enforced by the urgent nature of climate change and that bold statements have been proven useful in raising public awareness and mobilizing the public toward positive climate action, as well as in accelerating law-/policy-making processes that follow scientific conclusions. On the other hand, we demonstrate three example cases of bold narratives in climate and environmental science communication, i.e. 1) An upcoming cooling of Europe due to the gulf stream collapsing, 2) a new island made out of garbage in the Pacific Ocean, and 3) an upcoming "apocalypse'' due to bee extinction. Through those cases, we bring up concerns that using bold statements and sacrificing scientific accuracy in the shrine of public mobilization may backfire, as the use of bold statements encompasses risks by spreading misinformation, and can lead the public to confusion and inappropriate action.

Theodoros Karpouzoglou et al.

Status: open (until 22 Feb 2023)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on gc-2022-14', Nikos Erinakis, 23 Jan 2023 reply
    • AC1: 'Reply on RC1', Thodoris Karpouzoglou, 23 Jan 2023 reply

Theodoros Karpouzoglou et al.

Theodoros Karpouzoglou et al.


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Short summary
"Bold statements”, are motivating, easily conceived, but often inaccurate. The study seeks the origin, purpose, and threats of such statements in climate science communication. Bold statement communication is enforced by the urgency of climate change and is useful in raising public awareness and accelerating law-making. However, we demonstrate through three well-known case studies of bold statement communication that such communication strategies encompass risks as misinterpretation lurks.