Data

General Issues
Environment
Media, Telecommunications & Information
Economics
Location
Vancouver
British Columbia
Canada
Scope of Influence
City/Town
Files
Climate narratives final report .pdf
Links
Climate Narratives Forum
Start Date
End Date
Ongoing
No
Time Limited or Repeated?
A single, defined period of time
Purpose/Goal
Develop the civic capacities of individuals, communities, and/or civil society organizations
Research
Approach
Social mobilization
Civil society building
Research
Spectrum of Public Participation
Consult
Total Number of Participants
80
Open to All or Limited to Some?
Open to All With Special Effort to Recruit Some Groups
Targeted Demographics
Stakeholder Organizations
Experts
Indigenous People
General Types of Methods
Deliberative and dialogic process
Participant-led meetings
Public meetings
General Types of Tools/Techniques
Facilitate dialogue, discussion, and/or deliberation
Plan, map and/or visualise options and proposals
Specific Methods, Tools & Techniques
Open Space Technology
Deliberative Forum
Q&A Session
Panel Discussion
Legality
Yes
Facilitators
Yes
Facilitator Training
Trained, Nonprofessional Facilitators
Face-to-Face, Online, or Both
Face-to-Face
Types of Interaction Among Participants
Discussion, Dialogue, or Deliberation
Listen/Watch as Spectator
Storytelling
Information & Learning Resources
Expert Presentations
Participant Presentations
Decision Methods
Not Applicable
Communication of Insights & Outcomes
New Media
Primary Organizer/Manager
Simon Fraser University Faculty of Environment
Type of Organizer/Manager
Academic Institution
Type of Funder
Academic Institution
Staff
No
Volunteers
No
Evidence of Impact
Yes
Types of Change
Changes in people’s knowledge, attitudes, and behavior
Implementers of Change
Lay Public
Stakeholder Organizations
Experts

CASE

Stories that Make a Difference: Climate Narratives for a New World

First Submitted By Kam Razavi

Most Recent Changes By Scott Fletcher, Participedia Team

General Issues
Environment
Media, Telecommunications & Information
Economics
Location
Vancouver
British Columbia
Canada
Scope of Influence
City/Town
Files
Climate narratives final report .pdf
Links
Climate Narratives Forum
Start Date
End Date
Ongoing
No
Time Limited or Repeated?
A single, defined period of time
Purpose/Goal
Develop the civic capacities of individuals, communities, and/or civil society organizations
Research
Approach
Social mobilization
Civil society building
Research
Spectrum of Public Participation
Consult
Total Number of Participants
80
Open to All or Limited to Some?
Open to All With Special Effort to Recruit Some Groups
Targeted Demographics
Stakeholder Organizations
Experts
Indigenous People
General Types of Methods
Deliberative and dialogic process
Participant-led meetings
Public meetings
General Types of Tools/Techniques
Facilitate dialogue, discussion, and/or deliberation
Plan, map and/or visualise options and proposals
Specific Methods, Tools & Techniques
Open Space Technology
Deliberative Forum
Q&A Session
Panel Discussion
Legality
Yes
Facilitators
Yes
Facilitator Training
Trained, Nonprofessional Facilitators
Face-to-Face, Online, or Both
Face-to-Face
Types of Interaction Among Participants
Discussion, Dialogue, or Deliberation
Listen/Watch as Spectator
Storytelling
Information & Learning Resources
Expert Presentations
Participant Presentations
Decision Methods
Not Applicable
Communication of Insights & Outcomes
New Media
Primary Organizer/Manager
Simon Fraser University Faculty of Environment
Type of Organizer/Manager
Academic Institution
Type of Funder
Academic Institution
Staff
No
Volunteers
No
Evidence of Impact
Yes
Types of Change
Changes in people’s knowledge, attitudes, and behavior
Implementers of Change
Lay Public
Stakeholder Organizations
Experts

A collaborative forum designed to engage and inspire ideas on how best to communicate climate change. "Stories that make a difference: Climate narratives for a new world" took place on May 24, 2019 at Simon Fraser University’s Morris J. Wosk Centre for Dialogue in Vancouver, BC.

Problems and Purpose

There is a growing urgency around the world for political mobilization and collective action to tackle the threat of climate change. Decades of increasingly dire scientific reports about the harm being inflicted to our planet by rising emissions have failed to produce the kind of sustained political momentum needed to make a significant impact. New approaches are needed.

Traditionally, climate communicators, including scientists, politicians, bureaucrats and journalists, have used scientific findings and forecasts about Earth’s changing climate to mobilize people into taking action. The so-called “science comprehension thesis” assumes that citizens will act to mitigate climate change if only they are privy to more scientific information about all the scary consequences of planetary warming. However, there is a growing corpus of research outlining the various limitations of the science comprehension thesis.[1] This research concludes that more facts do not necessarily translate into more action.

Better strategies for communicating messages about climate change are needed. The Climate Narratives forum at SFU was crafted to outline the latest research in climate communication, to foster dialogue and encourage debate among a diverse range of leaders in the environmental field. The goal of the forum was to equip these leaders with the ideas, tools and inspiration needed to effectively communicate messages about climate change and, specifically, the need for action. 

Background History and Context

Key findings about climate communication

A dash of threat and a dollop of hope

Central to the challenge of effective climate communication is recognizing the tension between messages signaling the threat of the climate crisis, and messages signaling hope. Focusing exclusively on the threats posed by climate change produces feelings of hopelessness and despair in audiences that might otherwise be receptive to hearing about the need for action and thus are potentially willing to act.

According to Climate Access, a UK-based group that studies climate communication,

“Threatening messages can capture the public’s attention and create a sense of urgency, leading to a heightened level of concern. But worry by itself is not an effective motivator for action, as it more often leads to resignation and hopelessness. In this way, risk-based climate messages can simultaneously influence attitudes yet hinder people’s desire to act.”[2]

The solution is the story

Solution-orientation is an important dimension of climate communication. Showcasing ways that people are responding to the climate crisis challenges the pessimistic view that climate change is an intractable problem with no solutions. Moreover, by providing examples of solutions, effective climate communication demonstrates how ordinary people are benefiting from action on climate change, and how such action is normal, accessible and enjoyable. In this way, solution-orientation distinguishes between conventional portrayals of conflict (e.g., in the news) as paralyzing and intractable, and conflict that is accessible and worth acting on.[3] 

Mobilizing through solutions is an idea that is central to the work of Kendra Fanconi, a conference attendee and presenter, and director of the theatre company The Only Animal. This group dedicates its work to the idea of place. It’s appropriate that a forum drawing on the power of the narrative should rely on the voice of an artist to drive home the point about solutions and stories. “I believe the quickest way to the human heart is through story,” said Fanconi in her opening address to the forum. “Who can tell the story? That is the challenge, and that is why we need this group of people, artists, scientists, change-makers [and] inspirers – because we have to imagine resolutions.”

Organizing, Supporting and Funding Entities

1. SFU Faculty of Environment, Professional Programs and Partnerships

2. SPEC

The Climate Narratives event was organized by the Faculty of Environment at Simon Fraser University (SFU) and the Society Promoting Environmental Conservation (SPEC), one of Canada’s oldest environmental non-governmental organizations. The leads in this work are Dr. Joanna Ashworth, Director, Professional Programs and Research Associate, Faculty of Environment at SFU; and Dr. Carole Christopher, President of the Board of Directors of SPEC.

The idea for the forum was first identified by the program co-chairs in 2018. The planning group began its work in earnest in January 2019. This group included: Drs. Ashworth and Christopher; Kam Razavi, PhD Candidate at SFU’s School of Communication; Suzuki Elders Dr. Patricia Plackett and Erlene Woollard; communications specialist Tarah Stafford; graphic facilitator Avril Orloff; Ruth Elizabeth Briggs of the SFU student sustainability group Embark; and youth climate activist and University of British Columbia student, Sophia Yang.

The group took on the challenge of organizing a forum designed to identify gaps in climate communication. The group identified key challenges facing climate communicators and leaders from various sectors

Participant Recruitment and Selection

The planning committee invited a group of 100 individuals working to mobilize climate action in Canada. A total of 80 individuals attended the event. This group included climate communication professionals, Indigenous leaders, artists, academics, faith-based groups, public policy experts, students and journalists.

Methods and Tools Used

The Climate Narratives event used several methods to generate discussion.

The first method was graphic facilitation. Graphic facilitation is an approach that uses visual methods to assist learning and communication between groups and individuals.

Participants entering the conference room walked past a giant visual ‘road map,’ created by graphic facilitator Avril Orloff.

A ‘graffiti wall’ next to this road map provided a space for participants to visually document their ideas about effective climate communication.

A climate communication panel followed, to discuss rules and best-practices for radical storytelling on climate. The objective of this interactive panel, moderated by author and civic engagement advocate Am Johal, was to identify ways to make the climate crisis relatable and accessible.

The second method employed at the forum was a modified version of what is known as Open Space Technology. Open Space is a method based on the principle of self-organized debate, often around themes that are closely related to participants’ interests, experiences or backgrounds.[5]

Following a lunch break, graphic facilitator Yolanda Liman shared her work documenting the morning’s event. The work of a graphic facilitator entails listening carefully to what is being said in the room and to summarize the key ideas using a combination of words and images.

This presentation segued into a presentation about visual storytelling, followed by an hour-long media panel. The media panel featured three environmental journalists, an Indigenous leader and an environmental activist. The main question for the panel was: “What are the climate narratives that we need to tell?” 

The event concluded with a closing circle. Participants were asked to sit in a concentric formation and share their insights and feedback for the day. Two attendees had been preselected by conference organizers to act as dedicated listeners, or story weavers. These weavers began by reviewing the key questions raised over the course of the day.

What Went On: Process, Interaction and Participation

The event was organized around five questions:

·     How do you make climate change relatable and accessible?

·     What is working and why?

·     What is the scholarship behind a powerful narrative?

·     What is the role of the news media? 

·     What are the narratives we need right now that will motive people to act?

Territorial acknowledgment and opening presentation

Charlene Aleck, a member of the Sacred Trust Initiative, and a former councillor of the Tsleil-Waututh Nation (TWN) near Vancouver, delivered the opening territorial acknowledgment, alongside her daughter. TWN is across the Burrard Inlet from the terminus of the Trans Mountain pipeline, and is, in many ways, ground zero in the fight against proposed plans to twin the line. An oil spill in the Inlet (or beyond) could devastate southern resident killer whales that are intricately connected to TWN, its people, and its history. “The orcas are our families,” says Aleck. “We relate to them as ancestors, not somehow separate. When we help them, they help us.”

Orcas are extremely social animals that travel in groups known as pods. They communicate with one another in ways that are slightly distinct from pod to pod. Aleck says that congestion in the terminal from oil tankers will prevent the orcas from “hearing each other.” Twinning the pipeline could result in a sevenfold increase in tanker traffic.

It’s a message that was echoed by Kendra Fanconi, director of The Only Animal theatre company. One of the group’s recent productions, Slime, is set at a climate conference where animals are at the negotiating table. “[The play] features many scenes of animals speaking in their own languages,” Fanconi said in her opening address to the group. “If we are to share this great blue-green earth with animals, we must listen.”

Climate communications panel

This panel was chaired by Am Johal, the Director of Community Engagement at SFU Woodward’s, in downtown Vancouver. SFU Woodward’s offers programs, courses and initiatives to engage and support Vancouver’s inner city communities.

The panel featured two presenters: Amber Bennett, a communications consultant and associate with Climate Outreach in Alberta; and Cara Pike, CEO of Social Capital Strategies, an environmental communications consulting firm based in British Columbia, and the Executive Director of the UK-based non-profit Climate Access

The key theme emerging at the panel was the need for climate communicators to challenge the assumption that more facts about climate change result in more action. “Facts and figures rarely shift views,” says Bennett, whose work involves hosting climate communication workshops across Alberta. The goal of the Alberta Climate Narratives Project, which organized 55 workshops involving nearly 500 people working in a range of different fields, “is not to convince people,” but to have constructive conversations about difficult problems and contentious issues – to “bridge into a conversation,” says Bennett.

The messengers have, traditionally, been scientists. But, says Bennett, climate change is a “socially-constructive narrative” based around issues of trust and people’s values. Bennett adds that strong communicators are knowledgeable and accountable. They do not let their personal egos or interests get in the way. And they are authentic.

These messages were echoed by Cara Pike, of Climate Access, who argued that effective climate communication must be relevant.

Pike’s presentation tapped into another crucial dimension of climate communication: the need for balancing alarm with hope. According to Climate Access, excessive or exclusive threat messaging (e.g. doom-and-gloom scenarios) risks making climate audiences less hopeful that they can actually do anything to solve the problem. 

“The effects of hope and threat-based messaging differ by political ideology, as partisan divisions are deeply rooted in lived experience,” according to literature produced by Climate Access. “For example, research shows that conservatives react more strongly than liberals when they believe their physical safety is at risk… This underscores the importance of knowing your audience when invoking hope or threats framing in your outreach.”[6]

Pike suggested shifting the balance away from an all-threat, or mostly-threat based discourse, to one-third ‘threat’ (i.e., what’s at stake) and two-thirds ‘solution’ (i.e., what can be done and, crucially, what are the benefits of action).

Pike also argued that climate communicators need to think beyond the narrative, and to build solid relationships with their audiences. To that effect, Kendra Fanconi described how she is working with a group of around 100 artists to address the climate crisis. Fanconi told the audience she’s eager to collaborate with anyone – scientists, activists, journalists, students – to tell more powerful climate stories. “It’s not easy for us to speak with radical honesty… without allowing all the emotional responses [to flow],” she posted on Facebook following the event. “Anger, denial, boredom, despair… I am here to welcome them all,” she wrote.

Open Space Technology

Moderated by Avril Orloff, participants self-organized into ten groups, on themes of their own choosing. The ten themes, listed below, ranged from how faith communities respond to climate change, to how to take action at the neighbourhood level.

One group was dedicated to Indigenous knowledge and history. Charlene Aleck, of the Tsleil-Waututh Nation, asked participants to speak briefly about the importance of their ancestors to their lives. “I explained how Indigenous knowledge could bring creative ecology and creative economy [in order] to live our lives more in harmony with nature,” she said.

“Whatever your faith, whatever you believe in, that’s at the top of the pyramid,” she added, drawing a pyramid depicting land, water and air at the top. “We, as indigenous people, give thanks to that first and foremost,” she said.

Another group discussed how to deal with climate despair. Group member Christina Ray shared the story of a grandmother on a camping trip with her nine-year-old grandson.

When the grandmother brought up the topic of climate change, big tears welled up in the boy’s eyes, as he said “Grandma, I just don’t want to talk about this right now!”

Two years later, the boy spoke with his grandmother about climate change again. “We’re doomed, Grandma,” he said. “I have all these ideas, if only anybody would listen.” The story shows both the mobilizing and demobilizing power of despair.

“I think this story really demonstrated how the youth are responding to the emotions they are feeling in the face of climate change,” says student Stephanie Yu.

Participant and conference co-organizer Ruth Elizabeth Briggs says one of the things that stood out from the youth group she participated in is that young people aren’t feeling heard. Briggs communicates with youth as part of her work with Embark, a sustainability group based at SFU. “Young people,” Briggs says, “feel as though they have important things to say, and valuable perspectives, but that people just aren’t listening. This can cause them to question if they are bringing anything to the conversation, but can also motivate them to become more committed.”

Open space groups:

·  Parents and climate change

·  Change at the neighbourhood level

· Indigenous traditional knowledge: How to walk in our ancestors’ moccasins

·  How faith communities can respond to climate change

·  Young persons of colour and climate change

·  Facing climate change trauma and despair through storytelling

·  Impact investing

·  Power, resistance and transformation

·  Translating policy into stories

·  Climate change and youth

Visual storytelling

This segment was co-presented by Dr. Stephen Sheppard, a University of British Columbia Professor in the Department of Forest Resource Management; and Tarah Stafford, a screenwriter, producer and environmental advocate with an extensive background in climate communication.

Visual media can play a critical role for climate communicators in motivating local capacity and climate action, by making climate change realities more visible and helping people visualize their own future with climate solutions. Research shows that visual storytelling can reach beyond the choir, rapidly shift awareness, empower youth, and help mobilize citizens in their communities.

Dr. Sheppard’s presentation included a series of strategies for drawing attention to climate change at the local and neighborhood level. These included visualizations of urban streetscapes featuring tree canopies, transit, and mixed-use development to illustrate the benefits of a “low carbon resilient future.” Dr. Sheppard also described a “citizen’s ‘coolkit,’” to envision local collective actions.

Tarah Stafford’s presentation featured thermal imaging showing drastic heat loss from a house, and an image of a hot air balloon to illustrate the equivalent of one tonne of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Stafford explained that an average house emits about nine tonnes of CO2 each year.

Media panel

This was a large panel, made up of five experienced climate communicators:

·     Chief Bob Chamberlin, chief of Kwikwasut’inuxw Haxwa’mis First Nation

·     Liz McDowell, director of digital and campaign Strategies at Stand

·     Geoff Dembicki, a climate change and environment reporter at The Tyee

·     Emma Gilchrist, co-founder and editor-in-chief of The Narwhal

·     Chris Hatch, executive editor of the National Observer

The panel was moderated by Kam Razavi, PhD Candidate at SFU’s School of Communication.

Key points of discussion included how to balance messages of fear against hope, along with a discussion about the extent to which communicators need to convince audiences that are not already alarmed by the climate crisis to take action.

Emma Gilchrist of The Narwhal argued that the challenge for climate communicators is to translate climate messages to audiences outside of environmental circles. “I think we really need to be telling stories that have primary audiences that are not the people who are in this room. It’s very tempting to talk to ourselves, and to create communication strategies that feel really nice to ourselves, and that make us feel really right, but we need to be telling stories that reach workers, that reach new communities, that reach young Canadians, that reach people that are not typically hyper-engaged on climate,” she said.

Knowing your audience was a central message of the panel. Conventional climate communication (including conventional climate journalism) all too often treats audiences as a monolithic whole that is largely disinterested in catalyzing action on climate change.[7] Effective climate communication must treat climate audiences as disparate and diverse.[8]

For Chief Bob Chamberlin, youth represent a crucial demographic for climate outreach. Chamberlin says there is tremendous potential in the brainstorming potential of young people. “All the ideas that are ‘normal’ and ‘inside the box’ got us here, and so we need to empower [youth]…to be creative,” he added.

Geoff Dembicki and Chris Hatch’s comments tapped into the threat-versus-hope paradigm. “I think we need to address that issue of fear,” says Dembicki. “We all know where we need to be, and we all know where we are. And it’s that transition that freaks people out. A lot of my writing is going to be focused, in the coming months and years, on specifically how we bridge that gap.”

For Chris Hatch, messages of hope unhelpfully shift attention away from the institutional power that underpins political inaction on climate change. “It’s not as if, if we just told the story better, [climate change] would solve itself. We need to remember that there is power involved in this. Climate change is about, literally, the lifeblood of the world economy, the most powerful industry ever developed by our species,” he says. “It’s not that if we get the wording right, and the audience a little bit better, and the emotions slightly tweaked, that this will get resolved. That is not the case, I think, at all.”

“I agree with you, Chris. We are in the fight of our lives here,” says Liz McDowell. “And framing it up well gets us part of the way, it does not get us all of the way, not nearly,” she added. McDowell also made the point that naming who is responsible for the climate crisis (as activist Greta Thunberg has done in her speeches) is a key function of effective climate communication. “I think naming the problem very clearly, naming who is responsible for the problem very clearly, and being able to see what the pathways forward look like… is very important,” says McDowell.

Closing circle

Participants gathered in a large circle to share their closing thoughts. Two dedicated listeners, or story ‘weavers,’ kickstarted the segment.

“What we’ve done today involves so many ‘radicals,’” said story weaver Tara Moreau, from the UBC Botanical Garden – “radical ideas, radical creativity…radical honesty…” Story weaver Azlan Nur Saidy captured another theme of the conference: that of going beyond scientific knowledge to capture social truth – to ask yourself, ‘what communities do you belong to? What are its stories and symbols?’

Another key issue raised during the closing circle was the need to support and bolster independent media, and to promote good public policy. Journalism was compared to a public service, one that can’t be supplied only by the private market. The importance of countering disinformation in the public sphere was also discussed. “An informed public is important. People respond to complex issues with simple solutions based on misinformation,” said one participant. “They get caught up in a web of disinformation, and it’s hard to see the path forward,” he added. 

Following the dialogue, Kendra Fanconi performed a piece called Finale to bring the forum to a close. Fanconi describes Finale as “a short play for an actor and audience.” The piece illustrates one of the unique traits of humans among mammals: the ability to hold on to things tightly.

“It’s a defining characteristic of our species,” Fanconi said “It’s this powerful thing we can do. Can I take your hand? Will you hold mine?” she told the audience member, as George Michael’s Careless Whisper started to play. “We would make a to-do list, wouldn’t we,” she continued. “I’ve been doing it all day long: ‘Organize a think-tank,’ ‘work on [a] water system,’ … ‘make art that challenges everything,’” she said.

Written as one of 50 short plays for Climate Change Theatre Action, an international collaboration by playwrights concerned about climate change, Finale was a fitting end to a day dedicated to radical storytelling.

Key Findings About Climate Change

The solution is the story

Solution-orientation is an important dimension of climate communication. Showcasing ways that people are responding to the climate crisis challenges the pessimistic view that climate change is an intractable problem with no solutions. Moreover, by providing examples of solutions, effective climate communication demonstrates how ordinary people are benefiting from action on climate change, and how such action is normal, accessible and enjoyable. In this way, solution-orientation distinguishes between conventional portrayals of conflict (e.g., in the news) as paralyzing and intractable, and conflict that is accessible and worth acting on.[3] 

Mobilizing through solutions is an idea that is central to the work of Kendra Fanconi, a conference attendee and presenter, and director of the theatre company The Only Animal. This group dedicates its work to the idea of place. It’s appropriate that a forum drawing on the power of the narrative should rely on the voice of an artist to drive home the point about solutions and stories. “I believe the quickest way to the human heart is through story,” said Fanconi in her opening address to the forum. “Who can tell the story? That is the challenge, and that is why we need this group of people, artists, scientists, change-makers [and] inspirers – because we have to imagine resolutions.”

Fanconi used her presentation to underscore the importance of radical storytelling – what The Only Animal calls ‘solutionary’ discourse. “The word ‘solutionary’ is part of our mandate,” Fanconi says. “The Urban Dictionary defines solutionary as ‘A type of revolutionary who makes change by providing a better way to do things.’ The Only Animal loves this word: it appeals to us as innovators. Can we be solutionary thinkers here? Can we innovate activism?”

It’s not just what you know, it’s who you know

Beyond narrative techniques, the forum heard about the importance of relationship-building for effective, mobilizing climate communication. Two panelists, Amber Bennett and Cara Pike, who have extensive experience in the field of climate communication, underscored the importance of knowing your audience. Climate communication, including climate journalism, often treats audiences as a monolithic whole, equally engaged or disengaged on the need for action. Effective climate communication breaks climate audiences into discrete groups, with different levels of interest and engagement with the issue.[4] Thus, communicating to workers in one particular field requires an understanding of what resonates the most. Bennett, who works regularly with people in the oil and gas sector, says job security is a central concern for these individuals. The key is to repurpose communication so that it makes sense to this particular group, she adds.“The messenger is crucial.”

Powering through the crisis

A third key theme emerging from the forum was the need for challenging social, political and institutional power dynamics. The climate crisis is, at its core, about global power relations, and addressing it will require us to rethink social norms and to challenge status quos.

Influence, Outcome and Effects

Conference attendees were encouraged to fill out a postcard to themselves detailing their commitment to climate change. These postcards also provided the conference organizers with a snapshot of the event’s impact.

Common themes captured on the postcards included: the importance of knowing the audience, the need for solutions in climate communication, and more diversity in the climate movement.

Here is a sample of messages:

Sample postcard #1:

“To identify and tell more stories about solutions as a journalist. To seize opportunities to have conversations about climate change and what we can do about it with my friends, family and others in my community.”

Sample postcard #2:

“1 – Speak more truth to power. 2 – Find more stories that make transformative social change plausible and desirable. 3 – Get on the front lines. 4 – Don’t forget to breathe!”

Sample postcard #3:

“Push for a greater diversity of spokespeople and storytellers within an organization (external and internal). Lift up new voices so more people see themselves reflected in the climate movement.”

Analysis and Lessons Learned

The Climate Narratives forum was a successful case study in effective climate communication. Participants discussed the importance of calibrating climate messages to specific, discrete audiences.

Effective climate communication also requires relationship-building, along with sustained challenges to institutional power.

“We all have at least five friends – what if we all told five people what we learned here today, and asked them to tell five more people?”, Chief Bob Chamberlin asked. “Create a societal event with straight-up conversations, where people can ask questions. We need to create friendly, conversational exchanges with the [people] that aren’t here; we have to talk to people we wouldn’t normally talk to.”

These words summed up the goal of the Climate Narratives forum.

Conference co-chair Carole Christopher closed the day with a promise to try and reach out to her brother, who is dismissive of the need for urgent action on climate change. “I have spent many hours imagining how to have a climate conversation with him that doesn’t go off the rails,” she said. But she’s vowing to try again. “How we fare may depend on our ability to ‘imagine the impossible,’ and reach across our differences to break the silence.”

In closing, Climate Narratives provided a welcoming space for those working on the front lines of climate outreach, to discuss and debate techniques, best practices and scholarship.

As journalist Emma Gilchrist pointed out, climate communicators face the difficult challenge of engaging more audiences on the need for urgent climate action. The success of their effort will determine to what extent the world will be able to mitigate an ever-deepening climate emergency.  

See Also

Solutions Journalism

Open Space Technology

Deliberative Forum

References

[1] - Kahan, Dan M.; Braman, Donald; Peters, Ellen; Wittlin, Maggie; Slovic, Paul; Ouellette, Lisa Larrimore; Mandel, Gregory N. (2012). The polarizing impact of science literacy and numeracy on perceived climate change risks. Nature Climate Change, 2(10), 732-735.

- Moser, Susanne. (2010). Communicating climate change: History, challenges, process and future directions. Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Climate Change, 1, 31-53.

[2] Climate Access, Balancing hope and threat. April, 2018.

[3] Gunster, Shane. (2017). Contesting conflict: Efficacy, advocacy and alternative media in British Columbia. In Journalism and climate crisis. Public engagement, media alternatives (pp. 120-143). Abingdon, UK: Routledge.

[4] Gunster, Shane. (2017). Engaging climate communication: Audiences, frames, values and norms. In Journalism and climate crisis. Public engagement, media alternatives (pp. 49-76). Abingdon, UK: Routledge.

[5] https://participedia.xyz/method/4795

[6] Climate Access. Tip sheet: Balancing hope and threat. April 2018.

[7] Carvalho, Anabela. (2010). “Media(ted) discourses and climate change: a focus on political subjectivity and (dis)engagement,” Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Climate Change, 1, 172-9.

[8] Roser-Renouf, C.; Stenhouse, N.; Rolfe-Redding, J.; Maibach, E.; Leiserowitz, A. (2015). Engaging diverse audiences with climate change: Message strategies for global warming’s six Americas. In A. Hansen and R. Cox (Eds.), Routledge Handbook of Environment and Communication (p. 368-86). New York, NY: Routledge.

External Links

Event Website: http://www.sfu.ca/fenv/programs/professional-programs/events/climate-narratives.html

Notes