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Open AccessArticle

How Well Do COP22 Attendees Understand Graphs on Climate Change Health Impacts from the Fifth IPCC Assessment Report?

1
Department of Psychology, Heidelberg University, 69117 Heidelberg, Germany
2
Centre Virchow-Villermé for Public Health, Paris 75004, France
3
Institute for Public Health, University Hospital, Heidelberg 69120, Germany
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2018, 15(5), 875; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph15050875
Received: 22 February 2018 / Revised: 23 April 2018 / Accepted: 25 April 2018 / Published: 27 April 2018
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Climate Change and Health: An Interdisciplinary Perspective)
Graphs are prevalent in the reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), often depicting key points and major results. However, the popularity of graphs in the IPCC reports contrasts with a neglect of empirical tests of their understandability. Here we put the understandability of three graphs taken from the Health chapter of the Fifth Assessment Report to an empirical test. We present a pilot study where we evaluate objective understanding (mean accuracy in multiple-choice questions) and subjective understanding (self-assessed confidence in accuracy) in a sample of attendees of the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Marrakesh, 2016 (COP22), and a student sample. Results show a mean objective understanding of M = 0.33 for the COP sample, and M = 0.38 for the student sample. Subjective and objective understanding were unrelated for the COP22 sample, but associated for the student sample. These results suggest that (i) understandability of the IPCC health chapter graphs is insufficient, and that (ii) particularly COP22 attendees lacked insight into which graphs they did, and which they did not understand. Implications for the construction of graphs to communicate health impacts of climate change to decision-makers are discussed. View Full-Text
Keywords: IPCC report; Health impacts; understanding of graphs; evidence-based science communication IPCC report; Health impacts; understanding of graphs; evidence-based science communication
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Fischer, H.; Schütte, S.; Depoux, A.; Amelung, D.; Sauerborn, R. How Well Do COP22 Attendees Understand Graphs on Climate Change Health Impacts from the Fifth IPCC Assessment Report? Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2018, 15, 875.

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