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Global Warming's Six Americas
In this eloquent short video, the director of the Yale Forum on Climate Change
& The Media explains the basic (and very important) results of this on-going
public survey project tracking American attitudes about and knowledge of
(6 minutes, 2011)
Climate Talk: Science and Solutions
Susan Joy Hassol, TEDxUMontana
A crystal-clear overview of fixes for ways science communication can interfere
with the public understanding of climate change. Hassol has long been in the
lead on this issue as a practitioner and trainer.
(16 minutes, 2015)
Chapman Conference on Climate Science Communications
Attended by some hundred climate scientists and communicators, including many
leaders in their fields, this meeting was organized primarily by James Byrne
of Lethbridge University with many partners and contributors. Most talks on
this YouTube playlist are under 20 minutes long.
(lengths vary, June 2013)
Heated Words? How We Talk About Climate Change
Martin Carcasson, Department of Communication Studies,
Colorado State University
In what ways do people discuss climate change? What are some traps that our
politicians, experts, and advocates may fall into? This short clip includes
different ways that we talk about climate change, some of the problems, and
ways to move forward.
(18 minutes, February 2009)
How We Talk About Climate Change: What Works, What Doesn't, and What Might
Jes Thompson, Department of Human Dimensions of Natural
Resources, Colorado State University
This video offers ten key strategies for effective communication on this
tricky topic, in the context of a discussion of how the conversation developed
between 2004 and 2009.
(23 minutes, February 2009)
Communicating Climate Change
Robert Henson, writer for National Center for Atmospheric
Research (NCAR) / University Center for Atmospheric Research (UCAR), author
of the Rough Guide to Climate Change
A clear and engaging look at goals and methods: translating the science
(slides 42-62), convincing those inclined to skepticism (63-67), instilling
concern (68-79), and motivating people to act (80-90). Henson describes
where we are now in communicating about global warming and looks down the
road ahead of us.
(58 minutes, April 2008)
||articles & essays
FOCUS on Misinformation and Denial
There's a lot of false information around, a good part of which is spread intentionally by people who
want to confuse the rest of us. Here are sources for those who want to clarify their own
knowledge‒or help others do the same.
Communication: Start Here
Changing Climates @ CSU / 100 Views of Climate Change
An annotated list of excellent sources for getting started with the topic of
climate change communication. Designed to print out as a single double-sided
Climate Change is Everybody's Business. So How Do You Talk to Everybody?
Changing Climates @ CSU / 100 Views of Climate Change
This concise tip sheet summarizes six key communication principles, a few
particulars for the topic of climate change, and a brief guide to a few of the
resources listed on this website. Designed to print out as a single
double-sided sheet, with room for hole-punching. For another brief tip sheet
about writing more accessible prose, see
For Clearer, More Inviting Writing.
The Disinformation Playbook: How Business Interests Deceive, Misinform, and Buy Influence at the Expense of Public Health and Safety
The Union of Concerned Scientists, October 2017
This lively compilation of tactics for spreading dangerous disinformation,
while it is not limited to climate change, is very useful for this critical
issue. The Fake, the Blitz, the Diversion, the Screen, and the Fix: how these
tactics operate, examples of who has used them, and ideas for how to counter
2015's Five Fave Flashcards
Anna Fahey, Sightline Institute, December 2015
Smart, succinct tips for communicating about climate change: "Pope Francis's
Climate Talking Points," "Climate Science in 4 Pictures" (metaphorical),
"What's Your Climate Change Elevator Pitch?" (values, then scientific basics,
then actions), a video on "The Art of Talking Climate Change" (to reporters),
and "Three Climate Messages That Win" (Threat, Villain, Solution). You won't
find a faster primer on this subject.
Improving Public Engagement With Climate Change: Five "Best Practice" Insights from Psychological Science
Sander van der Linden, Edward Maibach, Anthony Leiserowitz, Perspectives on Psychological Science, November 2015
This peer-reviewed and well-documented academic article is nevertheless
extremely readable and cuts to the core of the communication question.
How to Combat Distrust of Science: The Surprising Power of the Psychology of Consensus
Sander van der Linden and Stephan Lewandowsky, Scientific American, April 2015
A good quick introduction to how a better understanding of scientific
consensus (on global warming and other topics) can help cut through other
Striving for a Climate Change
Paul Voosen, Chronicle of Higher Education, November 2014
A very interesting article about the cultural cognition work done by Dan
Kahan: how it developed, how it fits into the current array of ideas about why
science and politics/opinion about climate change are often so different, and
what practices these theories and data might lead to.
Why Doesn't Anyone Know How to Talk About Global Warming?
Natasha Geiling, Smithsonian.com, May 2014
An excellent discussion of a very wide range of complications related to
effective communication on this topic, along with ideas about solutions. Lots
of good links to the key literature.
Climate Change Meets Hollywood
Lorena Galliot, The Daily Climate, April 2014
An interesting piece about how the makers of the Showtime climate change
series Years of Living Dangerously structured their story for maximum
impact on their viewers. Some of their decisions, tactics, and skills can be
equally useful in other venues. Written by an associate producer on the team.
Breaking the Climate Fear Taboo: Why Feelings Matter for Our Climate Change Communications
Renee Lertzman, Sightline Daily, March 2014
Lertzman has focused her research on climate change communication and
psychology, and this short, efficient blog post offers a set of four
categories with which we think about engagement with the topic. One of them,
the one having to do with feelings, we tend to neglect, to our loss. Here she
offers five guidelines for allowing people to have their feelings without fear
The Id and the Eco
Rosemary Randall, Aeon, December 2012
"Thinking about climate change makes people feel helpless and
anxious‒but that's why we must talk about it openly": so
psychotherapist Randall explains in this terrific article. Rich in insights
about human emotions as they interfere with our ability to deal well with
climate change, and some good ideas about what we might do to face and cope
with these emotions.
The Frog and the Polar Bear and
Climate Change for Sale
Tony Davis, Grist.org, December 2011
If you're new to the topic of climate change communication, start here, with
this good, quick overview of reasons Americans might not be concerned enough
about climate change and some ideas about how to counter this disconnect.
The Science of Why We Don't Believe Science
Chris Mooney, Mother Jones, May/June 2011
This is an excellent introduction to "motivated reasoning," one major source
of the difficulty of communicating about climate change (and other tricky,
polarized topics). Mooney's last words: "Paradoxically, you don't lead with
the facts in order to convince. You lead with the values-so as to give the
facts a fighting chance."
The Psychology of Climate Change Communication
The Center for Research on Environmental Decisions (CRED), Columbia
The best efficient guide available for sound advice about better ways to
communicate about climate change, especially with the general public and
decision makers from government and business. Culling research findings from
psychology, anthropology, economics, history, environmental science and
policy, and climate science, this text's principles and examples are clear,
practical, and interesting. The principal sections are "Know Your Audience,"
"Get Your Audience's Attention," "Translate Scientific Data into Concrete
Experience," "Beware the Overuse of Emotional Appeals," "Address Scientific
and Climate Uncertainties," "Tap into Social Identities and Affiliations,"
"Encourage Group Participation," and "Make Behavior Change Easier." The report
is well worth reading in its entirety, but there's also a useful summary, "The
Principles of Climate Change Communication in Brief."
Global Warming's Six Americas
Prepared by the Yale Project on Climate Change and George Mason University's
Center for Climate Change Communication, this important series of downloadable
surveys analyses the American public's "climate change beliefs, attitudes,
risk perceptions, motivations, values, policy preferences, behaviors, and
underlying barriers to action." For a good article about the core results, see
What Do Americans Think about Global
Warming? Tony Leiserowitz can tell you. It's not what you might expect.
(Neela Banerjee, Yale Alumni Magazine, Jan/Feb 2015) "The perception among
many in the media, in politics, and so on‒that you can't talk about this
because half the country is against you?‒it's false, it's wrong . . .
It's only 15 percent. They're a really loud 15 percent, and they have
convinced much of the country it's not safe to talk about it, but it's just
Writing an Effective Letter to the Editor
The Union of Concerned Scientists offers useful, succinct tips and explains
why such letters are important, even if they don't get published.
Communicating the Science of Climate Change
Richard Somerville and Susan Joy Hassol, Physics Today, October 2011
A leading climate scientist and science communicator summarize the urgency of
improving the communication between climate scientists and the public and then
offer several key tips for that improvement.
For a pithy version of key tips, see Hassol's
Improving How Scientists Communicate Climate Change, which was published
This website offers an excellent one-stop-shopping "resource hub" focusing on
"essential research, news articles, and commentary on climate change
communications, behavior change, and public opinion." (It includes other
elements, too, but these are central.) Significant parts of the site are
public; for others, you need to apply as part of an organization working in
this field. Run by the Resource Innovation Group's Social Capital Project, the
Rutgers Initiative on Climate and Society, and the Stonehouse Standing Circle,
the website features two mottoes: "The network for those engaging the public
in the transformation to low-carbon, resilient communities" and "SHARING WHAT
With the goal of helping us all "see the invisible," this group and site
develop and offer still and animated "images of carbon emissions, air
pollution, water use, waste and more." A useful resource for anyone who has
trouble really grasping such things as what one day's carbon emissions might
Covering Climate Change
Tom Yulsman, the Poynter Institute News University
This free, online, self-directed course offers to "non-expert reporters and
citizen journalists a firm grounding in the science and policy underlying
climate change." Estimated time to complete: 4 hours.
Writing about the Environment: Climate Change
SueEllen Campbell, Department of English,
Colorado State University
This semester-long graduate course is taught by Dr. SueEllen Campbell,
Department of English, Colorado State University. It focuses on writing
clearly about climate change in a number of different genres, including
editorials, science writing for general readers, and personal essay.
"Without Evidence, There Is No Answer": Uncertainty and Scientific Ethos in
the Silent Spring[s] of Rachel Carson
Kenny Walker, Environmental Humanities, Spring 2013
We have seen that emphasizing doubt can confuse the public and paralyze
policy. But sometimes, this article argues, a strategic rhetorical use of
scientific uncertainty can work in the other direction, to articulate risk,
involve the public in the conversation, and move policy forward. Though
Walker's topic is chemical pesticides, the potential analogies to climate
change are obvious.
George Mason University, Center for Climate Change Communication
This center uses "social science research methods‒experiments, surveys,
in-depth interviews and other methods‒to find ways of effectively
the public and policy makers in the problem, and in considering and enacting
solutions." The website offers resources such as annotations for new journal
articles from the academic literature, links to relevant blogs, and the
center's own reports, including their 2011 "Climate Change in the American
Mind Series," their work with meteorologists and public health officials, and
the Six Americas series (on which they collaborate with the Yale Project on
Climate Change Communication).
Creating a Climate for Change: Communicating Climate Change and Facilitating Social Change
Eds. Susanne Moser and Lisa Dilling. Cambridge University Press, 2007, 534 pp. plus index.
This essential collection offers 32 essays on a wide range of topics connected
to the subtitle, including but reaching far beyond key basic tips for
effective communication. Among the distinguished writers are a cultural
anthropologist, an Anglican priest, ethicist/philosophers, policy makers and
analysts, educators, journalists, scientists, planners, psychologists,
sociologists, and directors of various climate change centers. A little
academic in style, but not hard to read; the editors' wrap-up essay at the
end of the volume is a good place to begin.