Finding a Better Way to Communicate About Climate

Visualizing Change looks to social science literature to improve climate narratives

by Rebecca Joy NorlanderJohn FraserKate Flinner
Feb 23, 2014

Key Findings

In 2013, the Aquarium of the Pacific, National Aquarium in Baltimore, New England Aquarium & Seattle Aquarium received a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Grant to create visual tools to help visitor audiences interpret NOAA’s global datasets about the effects of climate change on the ocean. To pave the way, we looked to social and cognitive research for different perspectives on how the public relates to climate change issues - such as extreme weather and sea level rise - and determine how people best grasp complex scientific explanations. In particular, this study shared recent findings in intergenerational learning and dominant theories of behavioral change to lay the foundation for participating institutions to develop a useful set of narrative tools.

Let’s Put It to Work

For Informal Science Educators

Often, educators working in aquariums, science centers, or similar institutional settings have access to a wide range of visitors but may not always feel confident in how to best communicate with these diverse audiences. This is especially true when it comes to controversial topics like climate change. This report helps explain what visitors think about climate issues, emphasizes the important role of educators as trusted messengers, and provides tips for strategic communication.

Photo by Marek Okon on Unsplash

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