Category Archives: Climate Communication Soundbites & Metaphors

Obama: No time for ‘Flat Earth Society.’

    With his eyes finally focused posterity, Pres. Obama hit a home run in his climate speech today at Georgetown U.   (Will prompt action follow?   Stay tuned. . . )   In addition to the substance, the speech included some real zingers.

Below are some of his best  soundbites, followed by the full transcript of the speech.

“I don’t have much patience for anyone who denies that this challenge is real.   We don’t have time for a meeting of the Flat Earth Society.   Sticking your head in the sand might make you feel safer, but it’s not going to protect you from the coming storm…”

“Someday, our children, and our children’s children, will look at us in the eye and they’ll ask us, did we do all that we could when we had the chance to deal with this problem and leave them a cleaner, safer, more stable world?”

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Franke - darwin

Tricksters – adapted for survival

Canadian artist Franke James gives reign to her ‘inner trickster’ to produce delightful visual essays that advocate for action to address climate change.

Charles Darwin (left) famously said,

“It is not the strongest nor the most intelligent of the species that survive, it is the one most adaptable to change.”

The most adaptable characters in many oral storytelling traditions are characters known as ‘tricksters.’   Continue reading

Climate Change Metaphors:  
Neutrinos prove Einstein (not) wrong!

Remember the headline a couple of months ago: “Was Einstein Wrong?”

Well, it turned out that those pesky neutrinos were not really travelling faster than light after all.   Their speed was simply measured incorrectly, due to a bad connection in the test equipment.   Einstein’s theories have not been overturned.

There are parallels with the so-called climate ‘debate’.   How should we react Continue reading

Climate Communication Soundbites:  
“One-sided skepticism is no skepticism at all.”

Many defenders of science have tried to clarify the difference between skepticism and denial, but nobody has nailed it as succinctly as Dr. Michael Mann, author of The Hockey Stick & the Climate Wars, in a recent interview in Slate:

“When it comes to climate change, true skepticism is   two-sided.     One-sided skepticism is no skepticism at all.”

Bravo!    It’s long past time to reclaim the term “skeptic” from true-believers who are only skeptical about things that Continue reading

Climate Change Metaphors:  
Pipe dream: “Why lunch counters? Getting served coffee won’t end racism!”

Tar Sands Coalition shot past their goal of 500,000 messages to Congress in 7 hours.

Pundits who grouse that blocking the pipeline won’t curb emissions may know something about oil, but they know nothing about social change.

Republicans in Congress are trying to resurrect the tar sands pipeline  that President Obama nixed after the House forced an early decision.    Most of them question the reality of man-made climate change altogether.

But off Capitol Hill, some analysts who accept climate science still say, “This is the wrong issue, Continue reading

Climate Communication Graphics, Climate Change Metaphors:  
The real doping scandal: Weather on steroids.

Is the increase in extreme weather due to climate change?    This little clip from the National Center from Atmospheric Research (NCAR) provides the clearest — and most entertaining — answer we’ve seen.

For cutting-edge science Continue reading

Climate Communication Tips:  
Tribute to Stephen Schneider

Dr. Stephen Schneider (1945-2010) was the first distinguished climate scientist to make speaking to the public a top priority and to stress the importance, when entering the media fray, of arming oneself with clear, compelling soundbites based on concrete metaphors.

In an interview, shortly before his untimely death in 2010, Schneider said Continue reading

Climate communication: Live from San Francisco

Yesterday, about 100 earth scientists and communicators gathered for the AGU’s (American Geophysical Society) pre-conference workshop on science community.    Today the official program began.  I met for the first time in person some of those I consider “rock stars” of climate communication , including Susan Hassol (, Dan Kahan (Yale Law Project on Cultural Cognition), John Cook (Skeptical Science), Richard Alley, Bud Ward (Yale Forum), John Abraham &  Scott Mandia (CSRRT), Richard Somerville, Dan Satterfield, Continue reading

Climate Communication Metaphors
Forest fires occur naturally, so arson is impossible?

We have a winner!   The #1 argument used by “skeptics” of climate science, according to the premier rebuttal site Skeptical Science, is this: “The climate has changed in earth’s past…so humans can’t be causing global warming now.”

It’s a logical fallacy, of course, like claiming that since forest fires occurred naturally in the past, before humans existed, so fires can’t be caused by arson.”

Or try this one: Continue reading