23rd Swiss Global Change Day – Meeting Report and Conference Documents
On 19 April 2023, the Swiss climate and global change science community met for the 23rd time at the annual Swiss Global Change Day. About 200 participants attended the event and 60 posters were exhibited. Distinguished researchers presented scientific highlights and the programme provided enough time for discussions and networking. Young researchers also had the opportunity to broaden their skills in dealing with journalists and debunking fake news in a workshop.
Image: Andres Jordi, SCNAT
Hannah Schmid-Petri from the University of Passau opened the talks with the question of what the new mission of climate communication could be. Because contemporary complex risk societies require science to raise its voice. Orchestrated efforts to communicate aggregated evidence are a promising strategy to solve those societal challenges and for policy advice. But communicating scientists must be ready for and resilient against public controversy.
Michael Stauffacher from the ETH Zurich emphazised that Net Zero confronts us with diverse ecological, economic and social challenges that make a sustainability transformation inevitable. This requires research that is organised transdisciplinary, which means research that brings together different disciplines and is planned jointly by research and practice. To this end, spaces must be created, so-called real world labs, in which interventions and experiments for a sustainability transformation are jointly developed, implemented and systematically evaluated.
Edouard Davin from the Wyss Academy for Nature at the University of Bern pointed out that as urgent actions are needed to curb climate change and biodiversity decline, Nature-Based Solutions could play an essential role to help address both issues synergistically. However, Nature-Based Solutions remain controversial because of uncertainties surrounding their effectiveness and the risks involved in their implementation. Embracing a broader portfolio of Nature-Based Solutions beyond the ones focusing most of the attention and prioritizing those providing co-benefits on several sustainability dimensions could minimize risks while delivering a much needed contribution to climate change adaptation and mitigation.
Bettina Schaefli from the University of Bern pointed out that changes in land use and progressive climate change pose new challenges to the management of water in Switzerland. Despite being the ‘water tower of Europe’, Swiss water resources are under pressure. While Switzerland is well organised in terms of decision support tools and collaboration with professionals, there is a lack of awareness of urban water users as well as regional and visional strategies regarding water use data.
Marcel Visser from The Netherlands Institute of Ecology in Wageningen addressed in his talk that Climate change has led to shifts in the seasonal timing of many species, but the species within a food chain often shift at different rates. As a result the seasonal timing of these species become mismatched: climate change leads to ecological relationship problems. There will be evolutionary changes and adaptations because phenology is heritable. But the scale of this microevolution will be too slow to keep up with climate change.
Marco Springmann from the University of Oxford stressed that our food systems are neither healthy nor sustainable. Without dedicated changes, we run the risk of exceeding key planetary boundaries including climate change that determine a safe operating space for humanity. Combining dietary changes towards healthier and more sustainable diets with other food-system changes would enable us to stay within environmental limits, but a comprehensive policy framework is needed to support this great food transformation.
In the lunch break the workshop for young researchers ‘Debunking Fake News and Confidently Dealing with Scientific Uncertainty’ held by Christopher Schrader took place.
Schraders advised not to focus on convincing the climate denier at a public event. You should focus on the audience in the room and argue for them. Respond to doubts in a friendly but firm manner. In writing, respond with the sandwich method. Always state the facts first and do NOT repeat the fakes:
FACT: Lead with the fact if it's clear, pithy, and sticky – make it simple, concrete, and plausible. It must ‘fit’ with the story.
WARN ABOUT THE MYTH: Warn beforheand that a myth is coming. Mention it once only.
EXPLAIN FALLACY: Explain how the myth misleads.
FACT: Finish by reinforcing the fact – multiple times if possible. Make sure it provides an alternative causal explanation.
About 60 posters were presented at the event in the categories Atmosphere/Hydrosphere, Geosphere/Biosphere, Human Dimensions/Sustainability, and Organisations. The best posters in each field (Organisations excluded) were selected by a jury and honoured with a travel award of 1000 francs each.