Issues

When it comes to communication and engagement, every issue has its own unique set of opportunities and obstacles.

Communicating Climate Change

The Problem

Despite decades of media coverage on the issue, Americans’ level of concern about global warming remains frustratingly low. While there is a relatively small core of motivated activists and citizens, even those Americans who are generally sympathetic to environmental perspectives may have difficulty focusing on the problem or prioritizing it highly. In part, this is because they typically lack clear ways of picturing exactly how the problem works, how it is caused, and how it can be addressed.

The Solution

A range of communications approaches can help quickly shift attitudes, and many of these have to do with “connecting the dots” so that the issue takes on a more concrete reality for people. Importantly, this is not just about increasing people’s worry about impacts – an approach that can backfire. It is about telling simpler and clearer stories about how we are overloading the atmosphere with carbon, about how CO2 traps heat in the atmosphere, about how burning fossil fuels for energy releases CO2 into the air, and so forth.

Our recent work on communicating about climate change has been done in partnership with many of the most active advocacy groups including the Environmental Defense Fund, Earthjustice, Greenpeace, 350.org, Sierra Club, Ocean Conservancy and others.