Environmental communication and Social Awareness: Successful Case Studies


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Conferenza all'Università Internazionale di Venezia su Social Awareness& CommunicationStrategiesconcerningEnvironmentalIssues
SuccessfulCase Studies

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Environmental communication and Social Awareness: Successful Case Studies

  1. 1. Social Awareness & Communication Strategies concerning Environmental Issues Successful Case Studies Umberto Mezzacapo senior researcher at Ces.Co.Com Center for advanced studies on consumption and communication University of Bologna
  2. 2. What's Environmental communication Environmental communication is the pragmatic and constitutive vehicle for our understanding of the environment as well as our relationships to the natural world; it is the symbolic medium that we use in constructing environmental problems and negotiating society's different responses to them (R. Cox 'Environmental communication and the public sphere', 2010)
  3. 3. Environmental Communication: you haven't heard about it, it didn'thappen Fish or men could die, swimming in the seas and in the rivers could cause disease, there may be no more oil at the petrol stations and the average temperature could rise or fall: as long as this is not communicated, there will be no social effects (N.Luhmann – 'Ecological Communication')
  4. 4. What does communication have to do with nature or the study of environmental problems? Simply put, whatever else 'nature' and 'the environment' may be, they are also words and therefore ideas. And ideas have consequences
  5. 5. Environmental communication: what its purpose? Environmental communication is pragmatic: it educates, alerts, persuades, mobilizes and helps to solve environmental problems
  6. 6. Infographics summarize information and easy-to-read interpretation Environmental Communication has clearly to do with Environment
  7. 7. Apocalyps is closer than we think: “a billion and a half more people are using and abusing the environment. In the coming three decades this number will approximately double....” Why environmental communication is needed? Source: OECD Environmental Outlook (2012)
  8. 8. “If we continue our wasteful ways by 2050 almost 4 billion people will live in area experiencing severe water stress....” Why environmental communication is needed?
  9. 9. In other words: where's my lake?
  10. 10. Why an effective and incisive environmental communication is needed? “If there's no action on climate change before 2012, that's too late. What we do now will determine our future. This is the defining moment” (Rajendra Pachauri, director of the UN IPCC)
  11. 11. Why environmental communication is needed?
  12. 12. Why environmental communication is needed? Although the public's concern for the environment is significant, considerable differences exist among individuals over how society should solve environmental problems Global Warming, for example: A poll conducted by the WWF in the U.S.A. found that 74% of the public felt that the problem of warming of the Earth's atmosphere was either 'somewhat serious' or 'extremely serious' Differences were revealed, however, when people were asked what actions the U.S.A. should take to reduce the major cause of global warming
  13. 13. Why environmental communication is needed? Respondents were split almost evenly between those who favored government regulation (37%), those who supported free market options (32%), and those who felt they lacked enough information to choose (30%) The complexity of issues such as global warming makes the finding of a public consensus difficult. Different voices (climate scientists, Americans for Balanced Energy Choices, a group backed by the coal industry, and environmental groups such as the Sierra Club, enter the public debate, widely divergent viewpoints compete for our support
  14. 14. Environmental communication: the stakeholders 1. Citizens and community groups 2. Environmental groups 3. Scientists 4. Corporations and business lobbysts 5. Anti-environmentalist groups 6. Media and environmental journalism 7. Public officials and regulators
  15. 15. Environmental communication: what's about Information 50' – 60' Information and Education 70'-80' Information, Education and Communication 90'- currently
  16. 16. It's about Communication, which is rapidly changing as paradygm Communication as we meant it until 90s is turning into a many-to-many communication, instead of a top-down, one-to-many communication
  17. 17. Self(ie) mass of communications From being in the Internet to be the Internet
  18. 18. Environmental communication and environmentalism John Muir preservation campaign to protect Yosemite Valley (1870s and 1880s, California – U.S.A.)
  19. 19. Environmental protection has to do with our health The atomic bombings of the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan: Devasted and polluted environmental resources can affect human health for ages
  20. 20. Social/Symbolic constructions of environment: Public health and urban pollution In her eloquent book 'Silent spring' (1962) she pointed out the consequences for human health from insecticides like DDT She warned that modern agribusiness had armed itself with the most modern and terrible weapons, and that in turining them against the insects it has also turned them against the earth
  21. 21. Advocacy campaign  The first Earth Day on April 22, 1970, activated 20 million Americans from all walks of life and is widely credited with launching the modern environmental movement.  The passage of the landmark Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, Endangered Species Act and many other groundbreaking environmental laws soon followed.  Growing out of the first Earth Day, Earth Day Network (EDN) works with over 22,000 partners in 192 countries to broaden, diversify and mobilize the environmental movement.  More than 1 billion people now participate in Earth Day activities each year, making it the largest civic observance in the world.
  22. 22. Risk communication: Chernobyl, the first ecological accident on global scale, the first important case of environmental communication On the 26th of April 1986, h. 1.26: a reactor in the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant blows up On the 29th of April 1986, h. 21.00: a brief news is issued by a soviet newscast (at that moment in northern Europe radioactivity was already wide-spread) Death-toll: 2 victims (according to TASS) – 2000 victims (according to AP) No coeherence - No transparency – No effectiveness
  23. 23. Chernobyl: (incoherent) technical risk communication Vegeteables and milk consumption were just proclaimed forbidden, when the italian Civil Protection Minister Giuseppe Zamberletti declared: «Situation is under control, the radiations have never been as 10 times as normal values» «Measures that have been taken are exaggerated. I’m having a salade right now» Felice Ippolito, member of technical-scientific committee of Civil Protection Ministry “It’s false that the radioactive cloud is below the limits of risk to human health. There is a tolerable threshold. Even low doses of radiation can trigger processes of mutagenesis, causing cancer, leukemia, alterations that can shorten the life.” LegAmbiente (Italian ecologist association)
  24. 24. Risk Communication - NIMBY: Not In My Back Yard
  25. 25. Fukushima: a bottom-up risk communication On 11 March 2011 Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant was hit by the tsunami triggered by the Tōhoku earthquake, resulting in a meltdown of three of the plant's six nuclear reactors. Governement and Tepco failed in communicating the actual risk
  26. 26. Social/Symbolic constructions of environment On the eve of the 21st century, activist Julia 'Butterfly' Hill (2002) voiced a quite different view of humans' relationship with the environment while she lived for two years high in the branches of an ancient redwood tree (named Luna) to prevent loggers from cutting it down circleoflife.org
  27. 27. Social/Symbolic constructions of environment Guerrilla gardening is the act of gardening on land that the gardeners do not have the legal rights to utilize, such as an abandoned site, an area that is not being cared for, or private property.
  28. 28. Social/Symbolic constructions of environment Guerrilla gardening as a form of protest or direct action. This practice has implications for land rights and land reform; aiming to promote re-consideration of land ownership in order to assign a new purpose or reclaim land that is perceived to be in neglect or misused.
  29. 29. Media and environmental journalism Agenda-setting role (refers to the effect of media on the public's perception of the salience or importance of issues Media often have discretion in choosing what events or information to cover and also how to frame or package a news story
  30. 30. The concept of citizen journalism is based upon public citizens "playing an active role in the process of collecting, reporting, analyzing, and disseminating news and information”. Media and environmental journalism  In 2005 was launched in France AgoraVox.  It became shortly after the first participative journalism web site in Europe.  More than1 million users, the second news information source after Le Figaro
  31. 31. World Info Media and environmental journalism: space and time
  32. 32. Media and environmental journalism Fred Pearce is an English author and journalist. He is a science writer and has reported on the environment, popular science and development issues from 64 countries over the past 20 years. He specializes in global environmental issues, including water and climate change 0
  33. 33. Risk and scientific communication, advocacy campaign
  34. 34. Risk communication – Advocacy campaign Media and environmental journalism
  35. 35. Public participation in environmental decision making Participatory budget in Capannori: a bottom up governance
  36. 36. Crowdfunding: Participation, Social marketing advocacy campaign
  37. 37. Risk communication – Advocacy campaign Through toxic tours, CBE(Communities for a Better Environment) increases public awareness of the low-income communities that are most directly impacted by multiple sources of toxics and pollution. The tours include visits to oil refineries, ports, metal recycling facilities and other sources that are linked to asthma, birth defects and cancer You will hear personal stories of local residents struggling to hold industry and government officials accountable for toxic pollution in their neighborhoods
  38. 38. Ironic and funny: is the message this way more effective?
  39. 39. Ironic campaigns designed by GreenPeace to promote eco- save bulb...and to protect the forests
  40. 40. How to creatively communicate the environment : Mister wind
  41. 41. Environmental communication pushed by Green consumers Green consumption as political consumerism Green consumers have enough information to BOYCOTT or BUYCOTT brands Green consumers pick up informations on enterpriese behaviour and act consequently, rewarding or punishing a company by “economically voting”, expressed through the daily shopping preferences
  42. 42. Green consumers boycott companies having a heavy environmental and social impact
  43. 43. Instead, green consumers buycott, reward companies having a green approach and policy
  44. 44. Green Marketing: by means of green consumption one can save the world, meanwhile taking care of health
  45. 45. Green Marketing: by means of green consumption one can save the world, meanwhile taking care of health
  46. 46.  This ad is misleading. Only part of the pen is biodegradable, for one thing.  Secondly, the pen will never be able to degrade since our waste stream ends up in landfills which simply do not promote proper decomposition.  Claiming of being biodegradable (which usually should say compostable) means manipulate peoples' lack of knowledge about product lifecycle in terms of how our waste stream actually works. However, quite often green marketing is only greenwashing
  47. 47. Environmental communication and civic engagement: Terra dei Fuochi (Effective) Communication on this matter produced two different consequences: - it succeded in stimulating social awreness and civic engagement - however, once it reached mainstream and digital media, a national widespread misunderstanding have been heavily affecting local agriculture business
  48. 48. 'Cuochi non fuochi' Campania campaigned back to restore its reputation
  49. 49. Unconventional socio-environmental campaign  Active citizenship Guerrilla cleaning Social awreness
  50. 50. (e)-Communication, civic engagement and social awareness
  51. 51. Collecitve and shared knowledge turns into Green activism and Prosumerism
  52. 52. Open Data and Open government as environmental communication  By taking an Open Data approach, organisations and institutions can:  become more transparent and accountable, reducing mistrust in the data, the conclusions, and in themselves.  stimulate innovation, which is essential for rapid societal or technological change.  improve public communication, by allowing and enabling a wide range of approaches to communicating scientific data and conclusions.  help politicians to build the will to make required changes, by giving them reliable and transparent data to back up their arguments
  53. 53. Environmental communication 350: a clear and defined objective  350.org is building a global climate movement.  online campaigns, grassroots organizing, and mass public actions are coordinated by a global network active in over 188 countries. The number 350 means climate safety: to preserve a livable planet, scientists tell us we must reduce the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere from its current level of 400 parts per million to below 350 ppm.
  54. 54. Environmental journalism as a way to get citizens taking action: grist.org  Grist.org goal is to get people talking, thinking, and taking action.  Grist.org reaches a community of more than 2 million people a month.  Sixty-five percent of them do something based on grist.org content.
  55. 55. Where does the stuff you buy (and throw) come from? 'The story of stuff' (just think about it)
  56. 56. Symbolic action and the importance of a trustworthy testimonial
  57. 57. Art for the environment Creativity of the artist Bogdanovic Jovana to make people aware of Global Warming
  58. 58. How to bring about and communicate eco-culture by dematerializng the economy: the Sharing economy
  59. 59. We all have the right and duty, as citizens, to know, understand, participate in what concerns us as community We all are stakeholders of such community called human species We all are, somehow and at some extent, environmental communicator
  60. 60. Thank you for your attention Umberto Mezzacapo Senior Researcher at Ces.Co.Com Center for advanced studies on consumption and communication Department of Sociology and Economic Laws Alma Mater Studiorum University of Bologna Umberto.mezzacapo2@unibo.it www.cescocom.eu