Concerns about hydraulic fracturing, and the coal seam gas and shale gas industries, include health impacts of chemicals used, contamination of water supplies from fugitive methane gas, equity of land and water access and long term impacts on groundwater. Some of the general public perceive that these risks as too great and/or not well understood, and far outweigh the benefits, hence, there is opposition to the unconventional gas industry and the use of technologies associated with the industry. This conference paper discusses the science communication model – the Trusted Advisor – used to engage, inform and respond to public demand for more information on the impacts of the unconventional gas industry. The Trusted Advisor is critical in situations where there is no values-based consensus and high uncertainty in the community. In addition, the paper highlights the need for science communicators to acknowledge that people filter scientific information through their values, worldviews and life experiences. Providing effective science communication stems from this understanding and enables appropriate framing of messages/issues that resonate with the intended audience’s values.

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Public Communication of Science and Technology

 

Public science communication in a contested space
A working case study

Tsuey Cham   Commonwealth scientific and industrial research organisation (CSIRO)

Peter Stone   Commonwealth scientific and industrial research organisation (CSIRO)

Concerns about hydraulic fracturing, and the coal seam gas and shale gas industries, include health impacts of chemicals used, contamination of water supplies from fugitive methane gas, equity of land and water access and long term impacts on groundwater. Some of the general public perceive that these risks as too great and/or not well understood, and far outweigh the benefits, hence, there is opposition to the unconventional gas industry and the use of technologies associated with the industry. This conference paper discusses the science communication model – the Trusted Advisor – used to engage, inform and respond to public demand for more information on the impacts of the unconventional gas industry. The Trusted Advisor is critical in situations where there is no values-based consensus and high uncertainty in the community. In addition, the paper highlights the need for science communicators to acknowledge that people filter scientific information through their values, worldviews and life experiences. Providing effective science communication stems from this understanding and enables appropriate framing of messages/issues that resonate with the intended audience’s values.

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