IE 11 Not Supported

For optimal browsing, we recommend Chrome, Firefox or Safari browsers.

We Have a Science and Risk Communications Problem

How do we reflect the science so people are warned?

This article highlights many aspects of our communications problem when it comes to using science to warn people of hazardous situations: “The Public Doesn’t Understand Hurricane ‘Cone of Uncertainty.’

The article lays out the challenge of showing people the path of a hurricane headed their way — graphically. What better way do we have than to give them a picture! Then the process goes “wobbly” on us. The hurricane wobbles and how people “interpret” the cone of concern is also up for grabs.

The above is for a specific known hazard that is imminent. How did we do as a nation on the COVID-19 pandemic and warning people about the threat and how to protect themselves?

If we were doing a good job on that today, we would have more of the population getting vaccinated with the most recent vaccines. The proof is in the pudding or serum!

New topic, would people still be moving to the arid Southwest if they understood that they could be running out of water — as early as 2023! Lake Mead is in serious trouble and electrical generation might not be possible next year due to low water levels.

Folks — we have a huge, huge communications issue when it comes to science, disasters and getting people to pay attention to their own personal welfare.
Eric Holdeman is a contributing writer for Emergency Management magazine and is the former director of the King County, Wash., Office of Emergency Management.