Tag: glacier melt

Sanjayan: There’s a Better Way to Communicate about Climate Change

The Orion Magazine blog put up this week an excellent post by Conservancy lead scientist Sanjayan on how his recent trip to Santiago — and the recent, two-day disappearance of that city’s otherwise plentiful water supply — has catalyzed his thinking about how scientists can better communicate the effects of climate change.

While global warming was almost certainly a cause of Santiago’s taps suddenly running dry, Sanjayan writes for Orion that he was surprised there to find that “no one has asked me specifically about climate change — about parts-per-billion, about carbon markets, about a carbon tax, about pipelines, or Kyoto, Copehhagen, or Doha — all the ways U.S. environmentalists and journalists often talk about it.”

Instead, Santiago’s residents wanted to talk about…water supply. So he quickly pivoted to focus on the water issue itself — on a local concern — and conservation measures for the watershed, while avoiding lectures about necessary behavior changes related to emissions. And through this approach, he found people receptive to hearing about climate change.

It’s a fresh and flexible look at why audience-sensitive science communications actually works. Anyone tired of the counterproductive rhetoric and approaches that have dominated climate comms for the last two decades will welcome the model Sanjayan puts forward here.

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