Category Archives: Climate Communication Tips

The ‘Serengeti Strategy’ defanged?

The pride of lions closes in for the kill, stalking its prey, waiting to spot a weak buffalo.

African lions on the hunt prowl the edge of a herd, single out one buffalo, then hunt as a pack to separate the individual from the herd and bring it down.   In The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars, Michael E. Mann notes that critics of climate science often use the same tactic, which he dubs ‘The Serengeti Strategy.’ Continue reading

Twitterstorming fossil fuel subsidies

Fossil fuel subsidey cf RenewablesAs  public pressure grows for cutting fossil fuel subsidies, activists are turning to social media to keep the heat on governments around the world.

Climate communicators are experimenting with fresh ways  to use the two dominant social media, Twitter and Facebook, to spread messages and organise action.  Click on Twitterstorm to learn what happened on June 18 and 350.org for  updates on the campaign to urge the Rio Earth Summit to end subsidies. Continue reading

Breaking out of our bubbles

Sometimes I feel like I’m living in a bubble. Actually, we all live in our own custom-made bubbles that are shaped by our life experience and our education.

The world in my bubble is different from the world in your bubble.    The TV show Madmen dramatized this in an early episode, when Betty comes home with her drycleaning.     After a few minutes, the kids come running out of the bedroom Continue reading

Air Force: “Hug the Monster” by embracing fear.

“Sooner or later, everyone who learns about the rapid advance of manmade global warming must deal with the question of fear.”

Veteran climate reporter, ABC’s Bill Blakemore, has written an interesting piece on embracing fear (5/6/12) and using it to mobilize climate action.     In recent years, communication researchers  have warned that “fear is not enough,” and may even be Continue reading

Climate Communication Tips:  
Sex, Drugs, Sea Slime. . .and Communication

Marine scientist Ellen Prager clearly “gets it” about effective science communication.    That was obvious just from the title of her presentation on science communication at the AGU meeting last week:  Sex, Drugs & Sea Slime (borrowed from her book title).

To demonstrate the importance of audience engagement, Prager flashed on the screen photos of bizarre larval forms of common sea animals, and asked the audience to guess what each would grow into.

Soon the audience was shouting answers (“a pig?”) and laughing; she had us.   (Try guessing the critter below, then see the answer 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 Tips  
Note to self: “It’s the fear, stupid!”

We have to address the fears.     That is my #1 take away climate communication message from the AGU meeting in San Francisco.

For many skeptics, resistance to accepting climate science stems primarily from fear, not ignorance or misinformation.    Fear of what could be “taken away” from them if government mobilizes to address this problem.    This came up in session after session on climate communication.

The corollary:     We can never make progress with ardent skeptics by arguing endlessly about scientific nuances, Continue reading

Climate Communication Tips
“Are Words Worthless in the Climate Fight?”

I’ve been haunted for years by that question, posed by Andy Revkin in the title of a 2007 NY Times Blog Post.

One wonders sometimes.   In the face of a well-funded disinformation campaign, ideologically-driven denial, the scope of the problem, and sheer inertia, does how we talk about climate really matter anymore?

Well, this inspiring little video, “The Power of Words,” is one answer.   Continue reading