If we can’t even get climate scientists to choose entirely honest words for describing the situation, there is no hope of any meaningful action.
The future of communications on the climate crisis must focus on freeing all of us from the systems that drive us to dump costs onto others and nature.
We shouldn’t be trying to bring on board the people who’re not already on board. Instead we should be trying to activate the vast majority of people who’re already concerned or even alarmed about the climate crisis but haven’t yet started exerting political pressure on their workplaces or on their government.
When the current IPCC report was first released, the UN Secretary General described it as a “code red for humanity,” and called for decisive action.
What I will argue in this book is that although traditional science communication methods are valuable, the issues playing out in the twenty-first century are inviting new ways of thinking about and doing science communication and engagement.
But my feeling is that we do need to hear more declarative statements like “Sell the beach house now!” from science and modeling.
It becomes clear where the way out of the crisis can be found – at least in principle: acceptance of our collective failure, humility on the part of the “experts”, and immediate action from the human side of the problem.
Perhaps more than any other topic, climate change has been subject to the organised spread of spurious information. This circulates online and frequently ends up being discussed in established media or by people in the public eye.
Over the past two or more decades I’ve witnessed an emerging preference for spinning an appealing but increasingly misleading yarn about what is needed to meet our various climate commitments.
With a few exceptions — speaking truth to leaders in power and helping loved ones recognize the magnitude of the threat — we need to shift our way of approaching climate communication from changing minds to giving people already on board concrete tasks on which to take action.
Climate literacy, which should by now be universal, lags out of all proportion to the crisis — and yet it promises large returns for a relatively small investment. If every student was climate literate, we could begin to effect change on a large scale. If every person was truly climate literate, imagine the change we could make.
So we’re having to deal with completely new environmental conditions, and we will be changed by that. Can we imagine that? No. Can we try to imagine that we’re not just clobbering each other over the head or blowing each other up? I can imagine something different.