RST Winter Lecture Series "Living in an Uncertain World" Part Three

Chair: Her Excellency Professor the Honourable Kate Warner, AM, Governor of Tasmania
The psychology of climate science denial with Dr John Cook, UQ
Around 7% of Australians believe climate change isn’t happening. What drives this rejection of climate science? The biggest driver of climate science denial isn’t education, science literacy, age or income: it’s who you vote for. Political ideology is a key factor, with people who oppose regulation of the fossil fuel industry denying there’s a problem needing solving in the first place. This matters because misinformation generated by this small group confuses the public, decreasing public support for climate action. How do we respond to climate science denial? Presenting evidence about climate change to those who reject climate science is not only ineffective, it can even backfire and harden their views. Instead, psychological research into inoculation theory points to another approach. Just as a vaccination stops a virus from spreading by exposing people to a weak form of the virus, we build resistance to science denial by explaining the techniques and fallacies of misinformation. Rather than try to change the minds of a small minority immune to evidence, we communicate to the majority who are still open to evidence. And not only do we need to communicate the science, we also need to explain how that science can get distorted.
Smart grids, messy society with Associate Professor Heather Lovell, UTAS
How we produce and consume electricity is changing: more of us have rooftop solar, there is greater opportunity to purchase household battery storage, and detailed energy data is more widely available. A growing concern of utilities and governments is that large numbers of people will opt to leave the electricity grid (i.e. centralised electricity provision), as it becomes increasingly technically feasible and cost-effective to do so. In this short talk Associate Professor Lovell will explore the nature of the changes already underway in the Australian electricity sector, and consider what past experience tells us about ‘megashifts’. She will also explore how change in an uncertain world can be effectively governed.