The European Commission’s Directorate-General for the Environment sends out weekly Science for Environment Policy news alerts that are also available on its website. You can find this week’s climate change-focused alert on-line, but there were a few points I wanted to make special mention of.
Three of the six short pieces highlighted in the alert (one on uncertainty, one on framing, and one on the effect of fearful imagery) speak directly to C3’s goal of engaging the public on climate change, and largely reinforce the project’s underlying philosophy that global effects of climate change should be tied to local changes. They emphasize some of the same points as Tony Leiserowitz’s Six Americas study, suggesting that “information should be tailored to different public groups according to their beliefs and attitudes.”
“Fear is not the answer to communicating climate change” includes some advice that might be useful to those of you thinking about how to build on the powerpoint presentation Jennifer Shirk gave in Fort Worth, particularly when selecting images:
“However, [images of large and extreme impacts such as melting icesheets, visions of rising sea levels and intense heat and droughts] also tend to enhance the sense that climate change happens somewhere else, to somebody else. Some individuals react to such images with a fatalistic attitude, feeling they are unable to do anything to help. Others deny climate change, rather than experience the discomfort of its reality.
“While the dramatic images were judged to be the most personally important, they were also considered the most disempowering. Enabling imagery… were seen as least personally important, yet made people feel more able to do something about climate change.”
The article was based on work presented in the Paper “Fear Won’t Do It”: Promoting Positive Engagement with Climate Change through Visual and Iconic Representations by O’Neill and Nicholson-Cole, which doesn’t seem to be freely available online, but you can read the abstract and, if you’re so inclined, buy the entire thing here.