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What You Mean Is…?

The United Nations climate chief has asked scientists to use terms the public can understand, Agence France-Presse reports.

"We mortals do not understand you," the UN's Christiana Figueres said at the European Geosciences Union meeting, according to AFP. She added that the use of scientific jargon likely contributes to the public being skeptical of certain scientific findings as it struggles to parse what some terms mean.

"The problem is that scientists have not spoken at an even level with people who are out there," Heike Langenberg, chief editor of Nature Geoscience, tells AFP. "They have tended to give long speeches and not listen.... I think they have underestimated intelligence and overestimated knowledge."

AFP notes that there's been a decline in science's standing among the US public, particularly among conservatives. In 1974, about half of US conservatives said they had a "great deal" of trust in science, while only 30 percent did some 40 years later.

"We are the ones who need to understand and take the implications of what you do and try to translate it into decisions, into policies," Figueres added. "And if we don't understand there's nothing we can do about it."