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Scheer D.,The Interdisciplinary Center | Benighaus C.,The Interdisciplinary Center | Benighaus L.,Dialogik Non Profit Institute for Communication and Cooperation Research | Renn O.,The Interdisciplinary Center | And 3 more authors.
Risk Analysis | Year: 2014

A major issue in all risk communication efforts is the distinction between the terms "risk" and "hazard." The potential to harm a target such as human health or the environment is normally defined as a hazard, whereas risk also encompasses the probability of exposure and the extent of damage. What can be observed again and again in risk communication processes are misunderstandings and communication gaps related to these crucial terms. We asked a sample of 53 experts from public authorities, business and industry, and environmental and consumer organizations in Germany to outline their understanding and use of these terms using both the methods of expert interviews and focus groups. The empirical study made clear that the terms risk and hazard are perceived and used very differently in risk communication depending on the perspective of the stakeholders. Several factors can be identified, such as responsibility for hazard avoidance, economic interest, or a watchdog role. Thus, communication gaps can be reduced to a four-fold problem matrix comprising a semantic, conceptual, strategic, and control problem. The empirical study made clear that risks and hazards are perceived very differently depending on the stakeholders' perspective. Their own worldviews played a major role in their specific use of the two terms hazards and risks in communication. © 2014 Society for Risk Analysis. Source

Dreyer M.,Dialogik Non Profit Institute for Communication and Cooperation Research | Bostrom M.,Sodertorn University College | Jonsson A.M.,Sodertorn University College
Journal of Environmental Policy and Planning | Year: 2014

Abstract: In Europe, marine environmental risks are governed in a complex multi-level system. The role that the marine region could or should play as a level of risk governance has attracted growing attention of late. In this context, reference has been made to the regional sea as one level at which participatory processes in the future governing of European Union's (EU) marine environment and resources are required. The paper unfolds the particular challenges that one faces when trying to implement stakeholder and citizen participatory deliberation at marine region level. The EU Marine Strategy Framework Directive is highlighted as a key European environmental policy initiative and participatory deliberation at regional sea level is underlined as a requirement for the Directive's successful implementation. The paper's account of participatory deliberation is informed by perspectives of inclusive risk governance and reflexive governance. The discussion of the challenges draws on the distinction between horizontal and vertical risk governance. The paper's main argument is that frequently encountered problems of participatory deliberation are exacerbated when deliberation is to be carried out at the regional sea level, i.e. at a large trans-boundary scale. These problems include the ‘inclusivity-effectiveness dilemma’, a fragmentation of participation efforts and a loose connection to actual decision-making. © 2014, © 2014 Taylor & Francis. Source

Scheer D.,The Interdisciplinary Center | Konrad W.,Dialogik Non Profit Institute for Communication and Cooperation Research | Scheel O.,The Interdisciplinary Center
Energy, Sustainability and Society | Year: 2013

Background: This paper aims to create insights into people's technology preferences in striving to achieve a low-carbon electricity generation system. The investigation seeks to analyze informed rather than mere opinion-based public preferences towards electricity technologies and portfolios against the background of climate mitigation options. In order to compare Germany with its strong renewable energy focus with a more fossil fuel- and nuclear-oriented country, the study presented replicates a research carried out in the USA in order to deliver data enabling such comparison. A special focus is on assessing attitudes and opinions towards carbon capture and storage as a low-carbon technology option. Methods: A mixed-method focus group approach has been elaborated and applied for 15 focus groups including a total of 130 participants nationwide. The approach first starts off with a traditional focus group design, i.e., discussion rounds with 8 to 10 participants led by a facilitator in order to collect qualitative data. This traditional focus group approach is extended by a quantitative survey design where participants had to fill out several closed-question questionnaires before and during the discussion rounds. Results: Main quantitative results presented in this article consist of an electricity technology ranking and an electricity portfolio ranking. The results show considerable differences between US and German participants. While nuclear energy and the carbon capture and storage technology option are high ranking in the USA, German participants clearly favor renewable energies. Conclusions: The comparison made clear that the stated preferences show a country bias, revealing a unique profile of technology and portfolio preferences in the USA and Germany. The policies that lie ahead of society need to find approval by stakeholders and the public at large, and therefore need to integrate acceptance profiles into communication and information activities. © 2013 Scheer et al. Source

Li H.,The Interdisciplinary Center | Chabay I.,Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies IASS | Renn O.,University of Stuttgart | Renn O.,Dialogik Non Profit Institute for Communication and Cooperation Research | And 2 more authors.
Energy, Sustainability and Society | Year: 2015

Improving the publics’ understanding of the energy system is a challenging task. Making citizens aware of how the complex energy system functions and how consumers of energy services can respond to a changing energy environment seems more difficult. In the context of the German energy transition, more active energy consumers are needed, not only in producing electricity on their own but also interacting with suppliers to make the energy system operate in a more efficient way through the development of a “smart grid”. This article describes an approach taken with a public education perspective to engage citizens in thinking about the issues we are facing in moving toward a future with greater reliance on renewable energy. We introduced a mobile exhibition, including an interactive simulation game, which offered a perspective on the whole energy system. The goal was to stimulate questions and arouse citizens’ interest in learning about the smart grid and help them to prepare for the transition to a smarter way of using energy. © 2015, Li et al. Source

Scheer D.,Dialogik Non Profit Institute for Communication and Cooperation Research | Konrad W.,Dialogik Non Profit Institute for Communication and Cooperation Research | Class H.,University of Stuttgart | Kissinger A.,University of Stuttgart | And 2 more authors.
International Journal of Greenhouse Gas Control | Year: 2015

Carbon capture and storage (CCS) science development takes place in a highly contested and politicised environment and cannot be seen isolated from the public debate on energy policies. Early expert and decision-maker involvement in CCS science development thus is necessary for assessing the accountability and reliability of scientific methods and decision-tools. Relying on a participatory Group Delphi exercise with 14 experts involved, we carried out early expert involvement in science development with the evaluation of the so-called gravitational number (Gr) approach - an early screening tool for carbon storage site characterization. The aim was to elicit expert evaluations and judgments on the Gr approach and feeding back these judgments to method developers. Experts hinted to several Gr constraints, specifications and recommendations that served the method developers for re-designing and re-evaluating the screening tool. The expert assessment indicate an overall good understanding of the Gr approach with all but two items (far) beyond the scale midpoint of 3.5 on a seven point Likert scale. Evaluating reservoir characterization criteria, experts ranked safety related criteria more important than capacity related criteria. In a final evaluation of the Gr method, experts agreed unanimously to a very high degree that the Gr number approach alone is not meaningful and a review of Gr results by earth scientist is necessary. Oversimplification, therefore, seems to be the overarching downside aspect of the method that leads to the conclusion not to use the Gr results as a sole basis for decision making on site selection. © 2015 Elsevier Ltd. Source

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