New Pipeline Projects and the Role of Public Perception
Proceedings Publication Date
Recently more and more new pipeline projects are either stopped or delayed by public resistance. One reason is that the individual perceived safety differs significantly from the safety assessed by experts. The discussion about technological risks shows that there is no shared sense about risks and that the question how to present or communicate risks is not answered yet. Because risk can not be perceived directly, risk communication becomes highly significant. Studies on risk perception show that experts and lay persons differ in their concepts of risk. Experts use a two dimensional concept: probability times severity of harm, lay persons have a multi-dimensional concept of risks taking characteristics of consequences and situations into account. Every day risk perception is not only based on probability times severity of harm, but on dimensions that reflect the characteristics of possible consequences like catastrophic potential, perceived dread of the risk, escapability from potential consequences, and harm to future generations as well as situational characteristics like voluntariness, controllability, familiarity, man-made vs natural sources and uncertainty. Eight way communicating risks are discussed from more technical approaches to approaches based on social science and suggestions for new pipeline projects are given.