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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)
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
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.
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." The comprehensive landmark study from 2009
finds six groups: the Alarmed, Concerned, Cautious, Disengaged, and Doubtful.
Newer studies include annual updates and a wide range of more specific surveys
focusing on such topics as race and ethnicity, public health, what teens know
about climate change, and the connections between opinions on this topic and
political affiliations. For related information that focuses on African
Americans on Climate Change,
see two reports prepared by the Joint center for Political and Economic
Studies: one on
African Americans on Climate Change and Conservation (2009), and one on
Americans on Climate Change and 2010 Midterm Elections, which looks just
at Arkansas, Indiana, Missouri, and South Carolina.
Writing an Effective Letter to the Editor
The Debunking Handbook
John Cook and Stephan Lewandowsky
This short, clear piece offers excellent research-supported advice for
debunking misinformation and incorrect "myths" about climate change (and other
topics), including tips for avoiding the surprising but real backfire effects
that tend to reinforce myths even when the intent is to replace them with
facts. Cook is a climate change communication specialist; Lewandowsky is a
cognitive scientist; both well-qualified authors are Australian. The
Science website offers many additional useful resources focused on
correcting and contextualizing climate change misinformation.
How to Talk to a Climate Skeptic: Responses to the Most Common Skeptical
Arguments on Global Warming
Coby Beck, Grist.org
Ever find yourself wanting to respond with solid information to somebody who
doesn't "believe in" climate change? Want help replying to letters in your
local newspaper that strike you as misinformed? The series of responses by
Coby Beck, posted on Grist.org, is the place to look. Indexed in several
useful ways: by "stages of denial" ("climate change is natural"), by
"scientific topic" ("scientific process"), by "types of argument" ("cherry
picking"), and by "levels of sophistication" ("naive"). Well-informed,
crystal-clear, and fun to read.
Why the Global Warming Skeptics Are Wrong
William D. Nordhaus, New York Review of Books, March 22, 2012
Straightforward refutation of the six main points made by skeptics in an
opinion piece in the
Wall Street Journal, written by an economist from Yale whose work they
misunderstand and distort.
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
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.
Misinformation and Its Correction: Continued Influence and Successful
Stephan Lewandowsky, Ullrich K. H. Ecker, Colleen M. Seifert,
Norbert Schwarz, and John Cook. Psychological Science and the Public
This is an excellent scholarly overview of an important topic: lucid,
informative, and packed with references to relevant studies.
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.