This Is What the Experts Are Saying About How to Talk About Climate Change

Leading scholars of climate change communication Ed Maibach and Anthony Leiserowitz were both recently interviewed in Grist. (You can read their interviews here and here.)

Here are highlights from those interviews.

Even the group of Americans that we call the ‘Alarmed’ — from our Six Americas study — currently about 13 percent. Of that 13 percent, only about a quarter of them — do the math, about 3 percent of Americans — tell us that they are engaged with contacting their elected officials about how they would like to see climate change dealt with. But virtually 100 percent of them are changing what they buy and who they buy it from.
— Ed Maibach
Conservatives aren’t really for fossil fuels, and conversely, they are wildly for clean renewables... Because at some level, even if they don’t believe that the climate is changing, they do accept that fossil fuels are bad for our health and that at some point they would like to transition away from them and towards renewable energy.
— Ed Maibach
 
 
[It’s] so important to have interpreters — like weathercasters — to explain how climate change is affecting local temperatures and precipitation... Being there to provide the answers, and to make appropriate connections between climate change and the event — those are teachable moments. That helps builds up a network of meaning in people’s heads and helps them understand that climate change is here and now, not far away in time and space.
— Anthony Leiserowitz
And our research has shown there is a hope gap. Even people who are most alarmed at climate change don’t know what the solutions are. Many people feel scared and frustrated and impotent. Which is patently wrong. It’s solvable.
— Anthony Leiserowitz
You don’t have to persuade Dismissives — who tend to think it’s all just a liberal conspiracy — that climate change is real. You just have to persuade them not be in active resistance to climate solutions... If your theory of change is that everyone in the world has to have your particular worldview and values, that is going to take a very long time.
— Anthony Leiserowitz