The 2018 report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warns that Earth’s temperatures may soon reach a tipping point that threatens humanity’s future. Scientists from many disciplines agree that anthropogenic climate change is a serious problem yet many Americans remain skeptical of the existence, causes, and/or severity of climate change. In this article, we review recent research on climate change communication focusing on audience variables and messaging strategies with the goal of providing communication practitioners research-based recommendations for climate change message design. Factors that influence audience acceptance and understanding of climate science include: demographic variables (such as political party affiliation, religious orientation, and geographic location), as well as brief sections on misinformation, and beliefs in pseudoscience. Keys to effectively construct climate messaging are discussed including: framing strategies; reducing psychological distance; emotional appeals; efficacy cues; weight-of-evidence/ weight of expert reporting; inoculation/correcting misinformation; and separating science from conspiracy theories. Evidence-based strategies are critical in giving science communicators the tools they need to bridge the gap between the scientific community and the at-risk public.
Keywords: Messaging Strategies, Science Communication, Climate Change
Merzdorf, Jessica; Pfeiffer, Linda J.; and Forbes, Beth
"Heated Discussion: Strategies for Communicating Climate Change in a Polarized Era,"
Journal of Applied Communications:
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