Communicating About Climate Change
April 2, 2014
Drawing on research and experiences of people who have successfully engaged others in building support for climate change solutions, MomentUs recently issued "Communicating on Climate: 13 Steps and Guiding Principles." These informative steps demonstrate how to discuss climate change in a more persuasive, realistic, and unemotional manner.
The document is based on the premise that climate change has become an abstract subject tainted by divisive political positions. The steps suggest that all people can be effective communicators on climate change if they understand the audience's values and beliefs. These detailed steps can be persuasive for increasing solutions that address climate change. The methodology could also be used effectively in other discussions that deal with opposing positions.
MomentUS, a component of ecoAmerica, is a consortium of sectors that include business, health, higher education, communities, faith, stewardship and new constituencies that strive to inspire and empower Americans to find climate solutions. The principles are geared toward creating a positive energy future with clean fuels, improving people's health, preparing for harmful impacts from natural disasters caused by climate change and engaging leaders and communities to effectively address climate risks.
Additionally, the document includes a hypothetical, graphically illustrated, example of how to employ these 13 which are listed below. A deeper explanation is provided in the paper, which addresses the nuances of why these concepts work to advance a persuasive discussion:
- Start with people, stay with people
- Connect on common values
- Acknowledge ambivalence
- Scale from personal to planet
- Sequence matters
- Use "facts," not science
- Inspire and empower
- Be solutions-focused
- Describe, don't label
- Have at least 1 powerful fact from a trusted messenger
- Prepare don't adapt
- Speak from the mountaintops, don't fight in the trenches
- Message discipline is critical
MomentUS also offers other research, including Climate Impacts: Take Care and Prepare and New Facts, Old Myths: Environmental Polling Trends.
Sally Grans Korsh
Director, Facilities Management and Environmental Policy
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