With media bias polarising the conversation about climate change into 'catastrophic' and 'sceptical' camps, new research published in Environmental Education Research, exposes just how important the ways in which environmental educators talk about climate change is in influencing public engagement.
Having identified a perpetual gap between empirical scientific information on the one hand and the way it's talked about in education and the public sphere on the other, Victoria Wibeck reveals the findings of a literature review examining 92 peer-reviewed studies.
Focusing on the goals and strategies of climate change conversations, Wibeck zeroes in on how learners of climate science understand messages on climate change, the communicative contexts for education on climate change, and the barriers that can be found to public engagement. Of particular importance is how learners of climate science are being spoken to about climate change because this affects the ways they go on to conduct their own conversations about it.
Arguing for the need to focus on "solutions rather than on catastrophic consequences of climate change", Wibeck suggests effective methods for moving forward with climate change communication, emphasising a need for strategic interaction between communicators and educators, arguing that it is necessary if the public role in challenging global climate change is going to increase.
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Wibeck, V. (2013) Enhancing learning, communication and public engagement about climate change – some lessons from recent literature, Environmental Education Research. www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.1080/13504622.2013.812720