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The bigger picture in Japan

Higa Yasoya chainsaws pieces of a damaged house as Marines breakdown the remaining roof of the house. Volunteers help resident Reiko Tokuda take down her collapsed home and clean the surrounding land following damages from Typhoon Jelawat
This case study is part of a set of case studies commissioned by the IPCC WGI TSU (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Working Group I Technical Support Unit) and collected by Climate Outreach.

Dr Masao Ishii shares how his public engagement has broadened and enriched both his audiences’ and his own perspectives – in expanding from the local to the global, and in appreciating different groups’ different interests.

Dr Masao Ishii, Japanese Meteorological Agency - Author for Sixth Assessment Report, Climate Change 2021: The Physical Science BasisDr Masao Ishii, Japanese Meteorological Agency – Author for Sixth Assessment Report, Climate Change 2021: The Physical Science Basis, @JMA_bousai

“I focus on the changes in the ocean including warming, sea level rise and acidification as described in the SROCC [Special Report on the Oceans and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate] and how changes are being observed around Japan. I think that the local and regional examples and how they relate to global issues was of greater interest to the audience. The examples I present to audiences include trends in sea level, sea surface temperature, and acidity being observed at the coastal sites of Japan or in the western North Pacific for the past couple of decades. 

Presenting the information in this way helps them to see how what they experience and have observed are all part of the larger global system. In addition, the significant variability in space and time (season, year-to-year, decade, etc.) seen in the trends on the top of secular changes and the best (but incomplete) interpretation for these impacts’ drivers, helps the audience to recognise the complex nature of the system and to have a sense of the uncertainty inherent in future projections. 

Photo credit: Atsuko Imai, National Institute of Environmental Studies and Tokomo Kaminokawa, Global Environmental Forum

One time, I gave one of my powerpoint lectures on Youtube and received questions from listeners through Slido (an online audience participation platform). The questions they ask are often not easy to answer, but they made me update my own learning to cover a broader range of topics and think more deeply about the different implications that arise from the interests of the audiences – the general public, users of the knowledge we provide, and even skeptics of climate change.”

This case study is a great example of putting the following principles for effective public engagement into practice:

  • Principle 2: Talk about the real world, not abstract ideas (see Handbook page 8)
  • Principle 3: Connect with what matters to your audience (see Handbook page 11)
  • Principle 5: Lead with what you know (see Handbook page 17)
Six principles for effective public engagement
Six principles for effective public engagement

Find out more about the six principles in our Communications Handbook for IPCC scientists and accompanying webinar. 

If you would like to contribute a case study of your public engagement experiences as an IPCC author, we would love to hear from you. Please share your stories with the WGI Technical Support Unit directly.

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