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Connecting on climate and energy: Finding common ground in an era of political polarization

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The majority of voters support US global engagement on climate change. Following the presidential election, researchers at Yale and George Mason Universities found that seven in ten (69%) of registered voters agree with US participation in the Paris agreement on reducing global greenhouse gas emissions, including just more than half (51%) of Republicans. In this talk, drawing on my social media research on discourse about the COP21 Paris climate talks, protest over the Dakota Access Pipeline and hydraulic fracturing, as well as the broader field of climate change communication, I’ll explore ways in which we can connect meaningfully on climate action and energy issues in an era marked by political polarization on the issues.

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Connecting on climate and energy: Finding common ground in an era of political polarization

  1. 1. Jill  Hopke     DePaul  Alumni  University   April  8,  2017   Connec?ng  on  climate  and  energy:   Finding  common  ground  in  an  era  of   poli?cal  polariza?on  
  2. 2. •  What’s  at  stake   •  Social  media  on  DAPL  and  Standing  Rock   •  Comparing  presiden?al  rhetoric  on  climate   change   •  Communica?ng  on  climate  change     Talk  Outline  
  3. 3. What’s  at  Stake?  
  4. 4.        NASA  [NASA].  (2017,  Jan.  18).  2016  is  the  third  year  in  a  row  to  set  a  new  record  for  global  average  surface  temperatures.      [Tweet].  Retrieved  from  hXps://twiXer.com/NASAClimate/status/821762849496186880        
  5. 5.        Unsplash.  (2015,  Feb.  8).  [Person  walking  pipeline]  [Photograph].  Retrieved  from      hDps://pixabay.com/en/person-­‐walking-­‐pipeline-­‐tube-­‐steel-­‐731319/  
  6. 6.        My  research  -­‐  Conflict  over  energy  development  and  climate  ac?on  on  social  media   2013  in  New  Brunswick,  Canada  and  2016/17  in  North  Dakota,  United  States  
  7. 7.        TwiXer  post  volume,  April  1,  2016  to  March  30,  2017  
  8. 8.        March  28:  President  Trump  rolls  back  Obama  era  climate  policies    
  9. 9. Comparing  Past  Presiden?al   Rhetoric  on  Climate  Change  
  10. 10. Origins  of  the  study  of  rhetoric   •  Athens  origins     – Discovery  of  available  means  of  persuasion  in  any   specific  situa?on     – Socially  /  publically  oriented  and  contextual   •  Tropes       – Turn  in  meaning  (metaphor,  irony)   •  Metaphor     – Mother  Nature,  Spaceship  Earth  
  11. 11. Spaceship  Earth  metaphor   Apollo  8:  Christmas  at  the  Moon  “Earthrise”     (Dec.  24,  1968)   Image  source:   hXps://www.nasa.gov/topics/history/features/apollo_8.html    
  12. 12. 3  aspects  to  a  rhetorical  situa?on   •  Exigency   – Set  of  condi?ons  making  up  a  “problem”  take   on  sense  of  urgency   •  Audience   – People  addressed  and  THEIR  beliefs  /   worldviews   •  Constraints   – Limita?ons  (cultural,  etc.)  and  context  
  13. 13. Dominant  vs.  cri?cal  discourses   •  Dominant  Discourse     – Recurring  paXern  of  speaking  about  something   that  has  “taken-­‐for-­‐granted”  status  (e.g.   economic  growth  is  good)   •  Cri?cal  Discourse     – Recurring  ways  of  speaking  that  challenge   dominant  discourse  
  14. 14. •  George  H.  W.  Bush   –  Spoke  to   Intergovernmental  Panel   on  Climate  Change   (IPCC)  in  1990   •  Barack  Obama   –  U.S.  leadership  at  COP21   2015   •  Comparing  presiden?al   rhetoric  ac?vity   Some  history:  Presiden?al  ac?on  on  climate   Former  President  George  H.  W.  Bush  signing  the  UN  Framework   Conven?on  on  Climate  Change  in  1992  (Photo  credit:  UN  Photos)  
  15. 15. Communica?ng  on  Climate   Science  
  16. 16. Communica?ng  climate  science   Leiserowitz,  A.,  Maibach,  E.,  Roser-­‐Renouf,  C.,  Feinberg,  G.  &  Rosenthal,  S.  (2015)  Global  Warming’s  Six  Americas,  March  2015.     Yale  University  and  George  Mason  University.  New  Haven,  CT:  Yale  Program  on  Climate  Change  Communica?on.  
  17. 17. •  Peripheral  /  heuris?c  informa?on   processing   – Visuals,  humor,  credible  sources   •  Posi?ve  social  norms   – Climate-­‐friendly  behaviors  are  common   •  Show  rather  than  tell   •  Show  localized  climate  impacts   •  Use  storytelling  /  narra?ves   Tailoring  appeals  to  “disengaged”  publics  
  18. 18. •  Context  of  “disinforma?on  campaigns”   – Highly  poli?cized  issue   – False  memes,  inaccurate  mental  models   •  “Vaccine”  against  false  claims   – Cultural  cogni?on  theory  –  a4tudinal  inocula?on   •  Convey  consensus  of  climate  scien?sts  on   human-­‐caused  climate  change   – “97%  of  climate  scien?sts  have  concluded  that…”   Inocula?ng  against  misinforma?on   Source:  van  der  Linden,  S.,  Leiserowitz,  A.,  Rosenthal,  S.,  and  Maibach,  E.  Inocula?ng  the  Public  against  Misinforma?on  about   Climate  Change.  Global  Challenges:  Climate  Change.  2017.  DOI:  10.1002/gch2.201600008.  Retrieved  from   hXp://climatecommunica?on.yale.edu/publica?ons/inoculate-­‐public-­‐misinforma?on-­‐climate-­‐change/    
  19. 19. •  How  to  counter-­‐act  false  claiming  on  climate   science?   – Pre-­‐emp?vely  highlight  misinforma?on  and  refute   counter-­‐arguments   – “Inocula>on  messages”  help,  effec?ve  across   poli?cal  ideology  affilia?ons   Inocula?ng  against  misinforma?on   Source:  van  der  Linden,  S.,  Leiserowitz,  A.,  Rosenthal,  S.,  and  Maibach,  E.  Inocula?ng  the  Public  against  Misinforma?on  about   Climate  Change.  Global  Challenges:  Climate  Change.  2017.  DOI:  10.1002/gch2.201600008.  Retrieved  from   hXp://climatecommunica?on.yale.edu/publica?ons/inoculate-­‐public-­‐misinforma?on-­‐climate-­‐change/    
  20. 20. •  Moral  framing  new  for  most  people  in  US   •  “Six  Americas”  views:   – Fairly  high  on  religiosity  /  spirituality   – Similar  levels  of  empathy  for  others   – Similar  levels  of  consumerist  values   – Caring  for  poor,  environment  and  future   genera?ons  important,  higher  with  “concerned”   Moral  framing  and  religious  beliefs   Source:  Roser-­‐Renouf,  C.,  Maibach,  E.,  Leiserowitz,  A.,  Feinberg,  G.,  &  Rosenthal,  S  (2016).  Faith,  Morality  and  the  Environment:   Portraits  of  Global  Warming's  Six  Americas.  Yale  University  and  George  Mason  University.  New  Haven,  CT:  Yale  Program  on   Climate  Change  Communica?on.    
  21. 21. "The  climate  is  a  common  good,  belonging  to   all  and  meant  for  all.”     "Never  have  we  so  hurt  and  mistreated  our   common  home  as  we  have  in     the  last  200  years.”     "We  need  to  strengthen  the  convic?on  that  we   are  one  single  human  family."   ~  Pope  Francis;  Excerpts  from  Laudato  Si’  (2015)  
  22. 22. Visualizing  Climate  Change  
  23. 23. Climate  change  as  a  distant,  far-­‐off  problem?  
  24. 24. •  Climate  change  is  hard  to  visualize   –  Intangible  and  abstract,  large-­‐scale  global  problem   •  Problem  with  polar  bears   –  Gives  impression  the  problem  is  far  off  and  distant   •  Study  of  how  people  respond  to  climate  visuals   –  2015:  Discussion  groups  in  London  (2)  and  Berlin  (2)   –  Interna?onal  online  survey  (n=3,014)   Going  beyond  polar  bears   Source:  Corner,  A.,  Webster,  R.  &  Teriete,  C.  (2015).  Climate  Visuals:  Seven  principles  for  visual  climate  change  communica>on   (based  on  interna>onal  social  research).  Oxford:  Climate  Outreach.  
  25. 25. •  Show  real  people   – Don’t  stage!   •  Tell  new  stories   – “Classic”  images  =   fa?gue   – Go  for  less  familiar,   thought-­‐provoking   Climate  visuals:  Key  findings   “Kids  Plan?ng  Flowers   Our  research  found  that  images  of  children   engaging  in  climate-­‐related  ac?ons   generated  posi?ve  emo?onal  responses.”     Source:   hXp://www.climatevisuals.org/galleries/new-­‐stories/#gallery/ gallery-­‐images-­‐that-­‐tell-­‐a-­‐new-­‐story/127    
  26. 26. •  Show  causes  at  scale   –  People  don’t   understand  links  to   daily  life   •  Climate  impacts  =   emo?on  /   overwhelming   –  Put  with  ac?ons  people   can  take   Climate  visuals:  Key  findings   “Traffic  Jam  USA   Our  research  found  that  people  oyen  had   difficulty  linking  individual  behaviours  to   climate  change  -­‐  so  showing  personal   behaviours  'at  scale'  is  more  effec?ve.”     Source:   hXps://www.flickr.com/photos/florian_the_great/5325929187    
  27. 27. •  Show  localized   impacts   – Balance  with  bigger   picture   •  Be  careful  with   protest  imagery   – Most  people  don’t   iden?fy  with     Climate  visuals:  Key  findings   Image  source:   hXp://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/09/21/peoples-­‐climate-­‐ march_n_5857902.html    
  28. 28. •  Lastly  but  important!  Understand  your   audience.   – For  people  on  poli?cal  right,  “distant”  climate   impacts  =  flaXer  emo?onal  response   – Images  showing  climate  solu?ons  =  mostly   posi?ve  emo?ons  for  individuals  across  poli?cal   ideology   Climate  visuals:  Key  findings  
  29. 29. Ques?ons?     Jill  Hopke,  Ph.D.   jhopke@depaul.edu  

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