A Short Guide to Translating Climate Change
One of the central problems in climate change communication is that communicators often use words that are scientifically accurate, but don’t resonate with mainstream audiences. This stems in part from the fact that climate change originated as a purely scientific issue. In order to build broad support for solutions, however, climate communicators need to use words that are simple, powerful, and understandable by the general public. In a recent post on Sightline Daily, Anna Fahey features a simple climate communications tip sheet created by communications guru Jeremy Porter. The tips are based in part on research and recommendations by Drew Westen, psychology professor and founder of Westen Strategies, LLC.
Anna Fahey, Contributor to Sightline Daily
Sometimes those of us who are very deeply immersed in climate communications become so focused on crafting messages that effectively convey certain complex issues, ideas, and policy measures that we forget some of the most fundamental communications rules.
I speak for myself. I should probably stick a Post-It note on my computer screen with a checklist: Is it first and foremost about people? Emotions!! Are you going for the gut or brain? Did you say it in plain language? (In fact, I’m making that sticky note right now).
Based on those most basic, simple yet powerful rules of thumb, Jeremy Porter, a super-smart freelance communications strategist (Jeremy Porter Communications), has summed up nicely how to talk about climate change so that people will care. Noting that most people don’t care at all or very much (or don’t have the time or energy to), Porter insists that it’s not a matter of piling on more facts nor a question of saying “global warming” instead of “climate change.” Instead, we can make global warming more relevant to people by talking about why it matters to them, their families, and their daily lives. One of Porter’s examples really hit home: People don’t want a “safe climate” or a “healthy climate”. They want to be safe and healthy.
Image credit: Jeremy Porter