Earlier this month, independent media group Open Democracy co-published an article with its author, Simon Retallack, detailing how modern media’s approach to climate change may be contributing to disempowerment and inaction in the common public. The author cited new research from the Climate Message Project, conducted by the FrameWorks Institute, advocating that the context framing the problem be transformed to a manner of communication that elicits agency and a sense of ability in the citizen body.
It found that the more people are bombarded with words or images of devastating, quasi-Biblical effects of global warming, the more likely they are to tune out and switch instead into "adaptationist" mode, focusing on protecting themselves and their families, such as by buying large vehicles to secure their safety…
Developing more effective ways of communicating on these issues is a huge challenge. Every country is different and will require its own approach. …According to this approach, how an issue is "framed" – what words, metaphors, stories and images are used to communicate about it – will determine what frames are triggered, which deeply held worldviews, widely held assumptions or cultural models it will be judged against, and accepted or rejected accordingly. If the facts don't fit the frames that are triggered, it's the facts that are rejected not the frame.
As Retallack states, communication of the problem should incorporate the following:
• “(place) the issue in the context of higher-level values, such as responsibility, stewardship, competence, vision and ingenuity"
• the “action to prevent climate change should be characterized as being about new thinking, new technologies, planning ahead, smartness, forward-thinking, balanced alternatives, efficiency, prudence and caring”
• while, “…opponents of action be charged with the reverse of these values – irresponsibility, old thinking and inefficiency.
The article, titled “Ankelohe and Beyond: Communicating Climate Change” provides insight on how to communicate not only on the issue of climate change, but all large-scale environmental challenges ahead – biodiversity concerns, air and water, and zero-waste issues, to name a few. The “paradigm shift” for today’s world is frequently talked about, but the technical means to accomplish this end are rarely addressed.
CAW continues to be alert on the issue of climate change and its often overlooked connection to certain waste management techniques.
What You Can Do
Learn more about the issue of greenhouse gas, and how your daily actions affect the planet. In the same vein, take a look at our growing Living Green pages to see how you can be one of the active citizens looking to save the world, one act at a time.