This is about the article that Paul Duignan of Stuff NZ wrote on climate change, which sparked our interest. He starts with an analogy comparing climate change as a really bad health diagnosis from a doctor. Unlike health issues, the treatment for climate change is a long way coming.
This is how climate change is presented to the public, like a drip-feed. “Fed first part of the process- work the diagnosis – without having time to formulate clear treatment options”, Duignan says.
As an example, he cited the information from the Greater Wellington Regional Council showing areas of the city vulnerable to flooding. He noted that the information, while helpful has caused people to be panicky. The people are concerned about the risk to their homes, assets, and places of work.
The report added that the regional and local government wanted to consult with the coastal community. Their goal is to create response and options to climate change.
The writer relates his many experiences as a strategist, particularly in community engagement. There are usually two ends of the spectrum when consulting with the community, he said.
The first end is when the government goes to the community with the intention of just letting the people speak out, providing data and information.
The other end is when the government comes to the community with a plan and just tells them what is going to happen. These approaches are obviously on the extremes.
When it comes to dealing with climate change hazards, the best approach is to be somewhere in the middle between the two ends of the spectrum, Duignan suggests.
The reality is that when the community realizes the weight of the problem, they will soon ask for information and solutions, he added.
The author suggests that the government would be in a better position to come up with possible indicative solutions, which is primary for productive community discussions.
The article is a good reminder for climate change authorities in New Zealand, other countries, and even readers on how climate change information shall be better handled.
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