Re-Imagine Climate Change Communication

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5 Impulses on Climate Change Communication

Impulse text by Carel Mohn, Head of, Germany
What should be done better / more / in another way to communicate climate change to the public / to politicians?

In another way: Take people seriously. Respect even those whose views about climate change and climate policy you dislike.

More:  Don’t get excited about people who deny we have a problem. Rather, grapple with those who are engaging in discourses of delay. And don’t let them off the hook.

Better:  Focus on ways of pre-bunking myths and conspiracy theories about climate change. Train people in using intellectual (and practical) tools to dissect falsehoods and misinformation.


Which approaches do you see as receiving too little consideration?  

“The earth is what we all have in common.” Wendell Berry

We need others to deal with climate change. In democracy, we even need to work and find solutions with people whose values and understanding of the world we do not share.

Which is why we need to talk about values. Values that we do share, values that connect us, values that could guide us in formulating climate policy solutions.


Is there anything about the COVID-19 situation that you would apply to climate change communication?  

Neuroscience has taught us about the surprising plasticity of our brains.

The COVID-19 pandemic has taught us about the surprising plasticity of societies.


Corona …?  

To our surprise, we have seen that as a society we can successfully confront a sweeping crisis affecting all sectors of public life simultaneously.

Two factors have been crucial in developing adequate responses to the crisis:

  1. Public institutions that are trusted because they are based on the rule of law, democratic control and rational discourse.
  2. A reference to a set of values that can be shared as a common reference point (“leave no one behind”).


Is there an author / article / book which you think the community of climate change communication should read?

Yes. The “Handbuch der Klimakommunikation” (forthcoming publication by, to be out in autumn 2020).


Climate change and the arts: What is your perspective? Is there an image / art work / other medium which communicates climate change in a good and interesting way that you would point to?

It is difficult to identify an individual work of art.

Yet we need to understand that with a view to “seeing” climate change we are in a similar situation as European cultural thinking in pre-Renaissance art:

People had lost the ability to see the world in perspective. It was the arts that helped in regaining it.

Or was it something totally new?




On de- and pre-bunking:
Lewandowsky, S., Cook, J., Ecker, U. K. H., Albarracín, D., Amazeen, M. A., Kendeou, P., Lombardi, D., Newman, E. J., Pennycook, G., Porter, E. Rand, D.

G., Rapp, D. N., Reifler, J., Roozenbeek, J., Schmid, P., Seifert, C. M., Sinatra, G. M., Swire-Thompson, B., van der Linden, S., Vraga, E. K., Wood, T. J., Zaragoza, M. S. (2020). The Debunking Handbook 2020. Available at DOI:10.17910/b7.1182


On communicating climate:
Corner, Adam, Clarke, Jamie: Talking Climate From Research to Practice in Public Engagement, Palgrave/MacMillan 2017, ISBN 978-3-319-46744-3


A perfect blend of literary, scientific and biographic perspectives:

Andri Snaer Magnason: Wasser und Zeit – Eine Geschichte unserer Zukunft. Insel Verlag, Berlin 2020, ISBN 978-3-458-17868-2.


On the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on trust in institutions and public perspectives on climate policy:

More In Common (Eds.): The New Normal?  A 7-country report drawing from a survey of 14,000 people on the impact of COVID-19 on trust, social cohesion, democracy and expectations for an uncertain future in the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Italy, The Netherlands and Poland, cf.