Journal Articles

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Data Points: Exploring Visualizations as Tools for Connecting the Public to Climate Change Research
Rob Newell, Ann Dale and Celia Winters (2016)

Abstract: Data visualizations can serve as an integral component of online climate change research dissemination strategies, as they are effective and efficient ways for attracting diverse public audiences and delivering research information in a timely fashion. However, these visualizations can be highly varied in terms of form and ways of interaction, and this raises questions about the particular qualities of such media that influence their ability to connect with and inform diverse audiences. This study addresses these questions by building visualizations of secondary energy production and consumption trends in Canada and evaluating their impact through focus group methodology. Two visualizations were built that held contrasting features: an abstract, static visualization built in the form of a time-series graph and a dynamic, interactive visualization with a ‘picturesque’ design. The results indicate that the interactive visualization held higher potential for drawing in and maintaining audience interests, whereas the static visualization was more useful for users wishing to gain a more detailed understanding of the data. These findings suggest that both types of visualizations have complementary strengths, and collaboration between trans-disciplinary research teams and graphic artists can lead to visualizations that attract diverse audiences and facilitate different information needs and access.


Meeting the Climate Change Challenge (MC3): The role of the Internet in climate change research dissemination and knowledge mobilization
Rob Newell and Ann Dale (2015)

Abstract: This paper explores the role that Internet and online technologies played in research dissemination and knowledge mobilization in a recent climate change research project, MC3. In addition, the team looked at the potential of on-line expert-practitioner research collaborations for these purposes. Electronic communication was seen as a key element for creating distributed networks essential to the project and for building new practitioner/research knowledge collaboratives. The paper discusses how online communication strategies and technologies were used for wide dissemination of its research outcomes. MC3’s research dissemination and knowledge mobilization strategies are analyzed, using engagement as the primary measure, to gain insights on the effectiveness and challenges of using Internet-based tools for communicating climate change innovations and actions.


Meeting the climate change challenge: A scan of greenhouse gas emissions in BC communities
Sarah Burch, Yuill Herbert and John Robinson (2014)

Abstract: The Canadian province of British Columbia (BC) is taking significant steps towards climate change mitigation, including a carbon tax on fossil fuels and legislation that mandates greenhouse gas (GHG) reductions within public sector organisations and GHG reduction targets for municipalities. This paper carries out a preliminary scan of the GHG emissions of BC communities using the provincially mandated Community Energy and Emissions Inventory reports. We map trends in energy consumption and emissionsper capita while uncovering correlations between these variables and land-use planning, geographic, and demographic variables. These data have shown that: (1) energy consumption in BC is an adequate proxy for GHG emissions; (2) transportation, more than buildings, is a strong driver of overall GHG emissions; (3) building emissions are not likely to be strongly influenced by dwelling type, but density of buildings is crucial; (4) geographic location influences emissions; and (5) population size and age do not appear to influence per capita emissions. These findings are particularly important as they suggest that the potentially intransigent factors of income and population size need not be barriers to achieving significant GHG reductions. The policy onus thus falls squarely on transportation planning, land-use, energy conservation, and fuel switching. This in turn highlights the importance of deeper underlying sociocultural and political preferences, which shape the behaviours that have a strong bearing on emissions profiles.


Triggering transformative change: A development path approach to climate change response in communities

Sarah Burch, Alison Shaw, Freya Kristensen, Ann Dale and John Robinson (2014)

Abstract: While climate change action plans are becoming more common, it is still unclear whether communities have the capacity, tools, and targets in place to trigger the transformative levels of change required to build fundamentally low-carbon, resilient, healthy communities. Evidence increasingly supports the finding that this transformation is not triggered by climate policy alone, but rather is shaped by a broad array of decisions and practices that are rooted in underlying patterns of development. Even so, these findings have rarely penetrated the domain of practice, which often remains squarely focused on a relatively narrow set of climate-specific policies. This article builds a conceptual framework for understanding the dynamics of community-level development path transformations that may both dramatically reduce GHG emissions and significantly enhance community resilience. This framework illuminates eight critical enablers of innovation on climate change, each of which is illustrated by compelling examples of community-level experimentation on climate change across the province of British Columbia, Canada. It is concluded that community-based climate (or sustainability) policy might be more likely to trigger development path shifts if it employs a longer time horizon, recognition of adaptability and feedbacks, integrated decision making, and systems thinking.


Accelerating the sustainability transition: Exploring synergies between adaptation and mitigation in British Columbian communities
Alison Shaw, Sarah Burch, Freya Kristensen, John Robinson and Ann Dale (2014)

Abstract: In this paper, we examine the synergies and trade-offs between adaptation, mitigation, and sustainability. Our findings suggest that, among leading communities, pursuing an integrated sustainability strategy (rather than a narrow focus on climate change) has the potential to yield benefits for both adaptation and mitigation in the majority of cases. The findings suggest that communities leading on climate innovation in the province have moved beyond a siloed approach in considering mitigation and adaptation. These findings have implications on integrated decision making at the municipal scale and multi-level governance, identifying both the challenges and the benefits inherent in pursuing multiple priorities simultaneously.