Friday, April 26, 2019 | ePaper

Sharing climate information around the world

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Afroza Mahzabeen Anannya :
Social media has an increasing number of users around the world. As a way of being digital, most countries are not far Behind from this trend. The urban population is widely using social media in their daily life and the rural population is not far behind. We can see various Facebook groups such as Traffic Alert groups, ride sharing groups, food experiences or restaurant groups very popular among users. There are different YouTube channels to reach out to people of different levels. So, Social media is a popular platform for sharing information.
Using of Social media for climate Services can be a way to reach maximum people around the world. This is quicker then TV channels, Newsletters, and Online news media. The Social media can reach all users which includes policy makers, humanitarian agencies, vulnerable smallholder farmers, different NGOs. This can act as a common platform in different countries to reach people with social media access and they can share it with their friends and colleagues.
A research article on Climate Change Communication focusing on social media by E dson C. Tandoc Jr. and Nicholas Eng in 2017 mentioned that 'Social platforms deliver three important domain of climate change communication. They are information, discussion, and mobilization'. The climate information can easily circulate through these domains. Countries around the world have Meteorological institutions or departments. This organization is responsible for keeping data well-organized and sharing with researchers. They have the prediction process and early warning system to aware of daily weather events and extreme climatic events through mainstream media such as radio, televisions, newspapers etc. But a larger number of people still are not aware of climate information. So, a better way of sharing climate information is necessary. For reaching a wider audience, meteorological organizations can use social media for sharing climate information.
Previously, the climate change communication focused on traditional media. But, now there is an increasing focus on the role of social media platforms. The climate information can be shared through social media by blogging, a page or group on Face Bookers on YouTube channels, twitter updates etc by meteorological organizations in country basis. There can also be regional pages or groups where the national organizations can share information among them. This could be a way to reach the maximumnumber of people to aware them about climate information. The stakeholders can reach publics where they are and in ways they find relevant. This also gives the users the opportunity to express their opinion and participate in the process of sharing the climate services information. This can ensure communication of climate information and help make appropriate climate-risk management decisions. The question here would be, how to reach end users such as vulnerable marginal farmers?
Smart phones are available in even remote areas of the world now and the Internet is widely available. So, if the Government offices in remote regions can get access to the climate services through social media, they can share this with farmers groups. The government operated schools in different countries can play a vital role in this sector. The climate information can be collected by teachers from Face book and other social media platforms and they can provide this to students to tell their parents. In this way, people without a smartphone will get the information on a daily basis. Lack of radio, Television, and illiteracy (unable to read the newspaper) cannot stand in the way of climate information sharing. Farmers can forward their questions through social media as well. Live feature in social media can also be used to reach vulnerable communities and answer their questions in regular intervals.
Climate change affects thousands of people every day. A proper system of sharing climate information can lead a long way to reduce impacts of climate change. According to the Global Framework for Climate Services (GFCS), 'Climate services provide climate information to help individuals and organizations make climate-smart decisions'. So, accessibility to climate information is important to develop a decision and instead of circulating the information among mainstream media to reach end users, the relevant organizations can directly distribute the information. Different Universities have students studying Environmental Science, Climate Studies, Disaster Management and relevant subjects. They can share the news within their network or university groups. This is how a Social media network can be created to distribute and share Climate Information around the world. Social media users can share both personal updates to express themselves and connect with their friends, as well as information they find elsewhere, such as news articles.
This climate services can cover different areas. Such as disaster risk reduction by providing an update of tornados or storms with Face book update and tweets. So, all the relevant agencies are updated at once and prepare food aid, medicine, and other things necessary. If we can use social media to share our picture of the trip, foods or different events in our life, why not use it for better climate services. This can be a way to make a climate resilient world where almost everyone can know about how the weather will be tomorrow or in the evening with just a click.
(The writer is working at  Climate and Resilience Project Co-Ordinator , Norwegian Refugee Council. Oslo, Norway)

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