Communicating the Science and Human Significance of Climate Change

by Ellen Broaddus

Seidler and Stevenson (2017) review two books dealing with the psychological factors that impact the personal and societal undervaluing of humanity’s role in causing climate change and its effects on them. They stress that this is not a new issue: even in 1988 the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) emphasized the need for a systemic change in energy production and consumption. Almost 30 years later, CO2 emissions have more than doubled, and it is still unclear whether current efforts such as the Paris Conference (COP) will lead to meaningful action.

The two books, What We Think About When We Try Not to Think about Global Warming and Stolen Future, Broken Present: The Human Significance of Climate Change suggest that our inaction is caused not by a data gap or lack of understanding of the risks but our “psychic habits, social dynamics, and ethical quirks”. In the first book, author Stoknes discussed the need for effective marketing. While studies show that “scary” emotional marketing tactic is successful among almost all audiences, Stoknes poses some important questions about the role of marketing and persuasion: is the societal denial of climate change a result of too few messages? What is the balance between sufficient advertisement and evoking denial and rationalization? Are we presenting enough range of marketing tactics to engage everyone? Continue reading

Can Mass Communication and Marketing Affect Climate Change Intervention?

by Pedro Ureña

The negative effect that climate change has on the well-being of our planet is well known and agreed upon throughout the science community. Gradual increases in global temperature have led to severe changes in weather patterns– including excessive rainfall in some areas and devastating drought in others– that are growing increasingly difficult to ignore due to their negative effects on public health. Some of these effects include injuries, fatalities and an increased vulnerability to certain waterborne and foodborne illnesses. Despite this common understanding of the direct and indirect negative effects of climate change, the general public does not often view climate change as a threat to public health. According to Maibach et al. (2008), properly influencing climate change-related behaviors amongst the population needs to be done through mass communication and marketing–in other words, spreading pertinent information to those who lack it. Continue reading