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Clearly Communicating with the Public about Climate Change Teresa Myers Center for Climate Change Communication George Mason University.

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Presentation on theme: "Clearly Communicating with the Public about Climate Change Teresa Myers Center for Climate Change Communication George Mason University."— Presentation transcript:

1 Clearly Communicating with the Public about Climate Change Teresa Myers Center for Climate Change Communication George Mason University

2 “Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.”

3 Identify your Audience

4 Global Warming’s Six Americas

5 Alarmed Alice High certainty, belief in human causation & high perceived threat Uncertain about the effectiveness of action, both collective & own An opinion leader High public affairs media use

6 Concerned Claudia Fairly high on certainty, human causation & threat Uncertain about the effectiveness of action, collective & own Average attention to news & public affairs content

7 Cautious Carl Weak on certainty, human causation & threat Unlikely to discuss or seek info on climate change Very low attention to the issue Middle-of-the-road views opinions Average media use, lower attention to news

8 Disengaged Diane Very low on certainty, human causation & threat Has never thought about the issue Traditional religious beliefs, lowest trust in science Very unlikely to discuss or seek info Low civic engagement Low attention to news, but high TV viewers

9 Doubtful Dan Occasionally discuss the issue & pay attention to energy conservation information (but not global warming info). Average attention to most news. Most trusted source: family & friends; low trust in mainstream news media & environmental groups.

10 Dismissive David Very low on all key beliefs May view climate change as a hoax Likely to be an opinion leader advocating against action Strong individualistic values Specialized media diet, with preference for sources that reflect his own point of view

11 Global Warming’s Six Americas

12 Identify your Key Messages

13 Key Beliefs about Climate Change 1.Climate Change is Real 2.It is Human Caused 3.It is Bad for People 4.It is Solvable 5.Scientists Agree

14 These audiences have different information needs. I’d like to know what our nation (and what I) can do to address the problem. Source: Yale & George Mason 1.Climate Change is Real 2.It is Human Caused 3.It is Bad for People 4.It is Solvable 5.Scientists Agree

15 These audiences have different information needs. I’d like to know what our nation (and what I) can do to address the problem. I’d like to know what harm this problem will cause. Source: Yale & George Mason 1.Climate Change is Real 2.It is Human Caused 3.It is Bad for People 4.It is Solvable 5.Scientists Agree

16 These audiences have different information needs. I’d like to know what our nation (and what I) can do to address the problem. I’d like to know what harm this problem will cause. I’d like to know why I should trust you. Source: Yale & George Mason 1.Climate Change is Real 2.It is Human Caused 3.It is Bad for People 4.It is Solvable 5.Scientists Agree

17 Alarmed Alice Information on the effectiveness of action will give her hope Correct her misconceptions Likely to read information, process it carefully & accept it She will share what she’s learned with others

18 Concerned Claudia Focus on what she can do & how it will help Increase her sense of the local, immediate & human threats Teaching her about the impacts of her actions will increase her reduction efforts Address her loss of trust in scientists & loss of certainty

19 Cautious Carl Normative messages may influence him Don’t talk about the number of people doing the wrong things – instead point out & praise the right actions. The more he believes others like him are concerned & environmentally aware, the better Localize the threats & emphasize the scientific consensus to increase his certainty

20 Disengaged Diane Narratives may capture her She’s not yet aware that global warming is a problem. Needs to understand the impacts on people here and now

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22 Doubtful Dan Focus on energy independence, economic opportunity, and responsible stewardship. They’re not likely to be persuaded on the issue, but may be influenced by framing in terms of their core values.

23 Dismissive David Not a promising target audience. Distrustful of climate science and climate scientists Unlikely to change his beliefs about climate change, but willing to reduce energy use to save money.

24 The less we say, the more we are heard (but we need to say it often). (but we need to say it often).

25 The less we say, the more we are heard (but we need to say it often). (but we need to say it often). 1.Identify what is most important to convey

26 The less we say, the more we are heard (but we need to say it often). (but we need to say it often). 1.Identify what is most important to convey 2.Find ways to make your points simply and concretely

27 The less we say, the more we are heard (but we need to say it often). (but we need to say it often). 1.Identify what is most important to convey 2.Find ways to make your points simply and concretely 3.Convey them early and often

28 The less we say, the more we are heard (but we need to say it often). (but we need to say it often). 1.Identify what is most important to convey 2.Find ways to make your points simply and concretely 3.Convey them early and often 4.Make it easy for people in the target audience to convey them to each other

29 Simple, clear, messages – repeated often – by a variety of trusted sources.

30 All 4C reports can be downloaded at: Climatechangecommunication.org

31 Teresa Myers Connie Roser-Renouf Edward W. Maibach George Mason Center for Climate Change Communication Anthony Leiserowitz Yale Project on Climate Change Communication Many thanks to the generous funders who make this research possible, including the NASA Science Mission Directorate, Grantham Foundation for the Protection of the Environment, the Surdna Foundation, and the 11 th Hour Project.


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