At Seed, a Roundtable on Framing and Climate Change
Matthew C. Nisbet, Ph.D. is Associate Professor of Communication Studies, Public Policy, and Urban Affairs at Northeastern University. Nisbet studies the role of communication and advocacy in policymaking and public affairs, focusing on debates over over climate change, energy, and sustainability. Among awards and recognition, Nisbet has been a Visiting Shorenstein Fellow on Press, Politics, and Public Policy at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government, a Health Policy Investigator at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and a Google Science Communication Fellow. In 2011, the editors at the journal Nature recommended Nisbet's research as “essential reading for anyone with a passing interest in the climate change debate,” and the New Republic highlighted his work as a “fascinating dissection of the shortcomings of climate activism."
Hooked around the accidental release of a climate change "rebranding" memo by the firm EcoAmerica a few weeks back, Seed magazine runs today an interesting roundtable discussion on the good, the bad, and the ugly of applying framing research to communicating about climate change.
I provide comments as one of six experts "who discuss the merits of framing climate change, the language that troubles them, and the inherent bias of any chosen word." Others include climate scientists Michael Mann and Gavin Schmidt, ecologist Ann Kinzig, political scientist Clark Miller and science writer Robert Henson.
I have more to say about the EcoAmerica case in a forthcoming article. I haven't read the strategy memo or their research results and so I can't really say whether they apply principles from past academic work in the area or not. But for now, as I note in the roundtable discussion, the goal of applying framing research--or any kind of audience research---should not be to "sell" the public on climate change, but rather to use this research to create communication contexts that move beyond polarization, promote discussion, generate partnerships and connections, and that accurately convey the objective urgency of the problem.
Importantly, if the public feels like they are being marketed to, it will only continue to fuel additional polarization and perceptual gridlock. In shifting the frame on climate change, the goals should not be to persuade, but rather to start conversations with the public that recognize, respect, and incorporate differences in knowledge, values, perspectives, and goals.
In a breakthrough for nuclear fusion research, scientists at China's Experimental Advanced Superconducting Tokamak (EAST) reactor have produced temperatures necessary for nuclear fusion on Earth.
- The EAST reactor was able to heat hydrogen to temperatures exceeding 100 million degrees Celsius.
- Nuclear fusion could someday provide the planet with a virtually limitless supply of clean energy.
- Still, scientists have many other obstacles to pass before fusion technology becomes a viable energy source.
Military recruits are supposed to be assessed to see whether they're fit for service. What happens when they're not?
- During the Vietnam War, Robert McNamara began a program called Project 100,000.
- The program brought over 300,000 men to Vietnam who failed to meet minimum criteria for military service, both physically and mentally.
- Project 100,000 recruits were killed in disproportionate numbers and fared worse after their military service than their civilian peers, making the program one of the biggest—and possibly cruelest—mistakes of the Vietnam War.
The 116th Congress is set to break records in term of diversity among its lawmakers, though those changes are coming almost entirely from Democrats.
- Women and nonwhite candidates made record gains in the 2018 midterms.
- In total, almost half of the newly elected Congressional representatives are not white men.
- Those changes come almost entirely from Democrats; Republican members-elect are all white men except for one woman.
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