The Importance of Emphasizing the Positive in Climate Communications
A recent discussion at MIT focused on one of our favorite communication strategies: leading with solutions. As the panelists explained, the debate gets much less polarized when audiences are presented with positive actions they can take – and even more so when those solutions align with their values and identities. Republicans, for example, are far more accepting of climate change when presented with free-market-based solutions. And everyone can agree on the importance of that clean air, clean water, and protecting the health of our families.
Being shown a variety of positive solutions also helps fight apathy and prevents people from feeling overwhelmed. And the more they believe in the value of climate solutions, the more they will insist that their public servants support climate action.
For more tips on engaging people on climate solutions, download our report, Connecting on Climate: A Guide to Effective Climate Change Communication.
David L. Chandler, MIT News Office
MIT discussion highlights causes for optimism and the importance of emphasizing positive steps.
Panelists at an MIT discussion yesterday on how to improve communication about climate change said that while serious obstacles remain in making the issues and potential solutions clear to the public and political leaders, there is some cause for optimism, especially when the messages focus on readily available solutions.
The discussion, part of the MIT Conversation on Climate Change, was moderated by John Durant, director of the MIT Museum, and introduced by Nate Nickerson, MIT’s vice president for communications. The event — titled “Getting Through on Global Warming: How to Rewire Climate Change Communication” — featured journalists, scientists, and policy experts who deal with the issue of climate change. Durant opened the session by asking, given the often-polarizing nature of the subject, “how the MIT community … can do a better job of contributing to the discussion.”
Chris Mooney, an environmental reporter at the Washington Post, pointed out that rhetoric can quickly give way to action when people are confronted by serious impacts in their own backyards. For example, in Florida, four southern counties most affected by rising sea levels and storm surges are proceeding with serious countermeasures.
Image credit: Justin Knight