Effectiveness of Social (New) Media in the communication of climate risks

Abstract

The safety of lives and property at minimum costs is essential across all human endeavours, and this is the goal of governments and individuals. Environmental risks such as hydrological hazards (e.g. flooding) on the other hand threaten the safety of lives and property most times at monumental costs to those affected irrespective of their status. The effective communication of environmental risks however mediates between these two because it triggers action that juxtaposes findings from risk research with the social and political will required to achieve safety of lives and property.

Documentary analysis was used to assess the effectiveness of New (social) Media comparative to traditional media in the communication of risks with particular reference to natural or man-made hazards.

Social (New) media as an emergent communication technology platform has many other beneficial attributes for risk communication. However, concerns bordering on credibility and data integrity, it is not solely a reliable and effective tool or channel for communicating climate risks.  However, the benefits of social media for information sharing before, during and after risk events notwithstanding, I argue based on the rationalist-instrumental model of communication, that meeting the ethics demand, data integrity and governance protocol of risk communication is critical and are non-negotiable imperatives. Hence, they (social media channels) do not serve effectively for the communication of risks.  

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