All posts tagged: communication

I want change

Theories of change

Last week, I wrote a post criticising the climate change communication strategies of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Since then, I’ve been thinking a lot about the role that theories of change play in shaping climate change communication strategies. A theory of change is essentially an idea about how things change in the world. Do you think political leaders make change happen, or do you think mass movements of people lead change? Do you think change is random, chaotic, or predictable? Do you think it happens through incremental improvement, or abrupt transformation? Everyone answers these questions differently and the combination of these answers makes up an individual’s theory of change.

Male Professor Shouting Though Megaphone

Communicating climate change: The case of the IPCC

I’m sitting here trying to write something about the latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and I just can’t seem to get excited. This week, the final Synthesis Report that summarises the IPCC’s massive Fifth Assessment Report (AR5) is out. It is the most important report on climate change that there is. It represents the latest agreed science on climate change, all wrapped up in a form that’s supposed to be digestible for policy makers and the media. I will use it again and again over the years ahead to help me to communicate about climate change with diverse audiences. But it fails to excite me. Why?

What lies beyond sustainability?

What lies beyond sustainability?

There is a sustainability backlash going on. In Australia, it is obvious and in your face. You can see it in the Abbott Government’s attempts to dismantle anything at all that might help to tackle climate change. You can see it, also, in State Government efforts to dismantle “green tape”, an insidious term that paints environmental protection as nothing more than an impediment to the real business of economic growth. More subtly, the backlash is evident in the way advocates are talking about sustainability. In State of the World 2013, Robert Engelman (the President of the Worldwatch Institute) argued that talk about sustainability has become ‘sustainababble’. The word has become so overused and vague that it lends itself to greenwashing. Instead of representing a radical change in the human relationship with the Earth, sustainability now seems to mean something like: a little better for the environment than the alternative. In fact, sustainability demands that humans do no net harm to the planet, not that we do a little better than we are now. In his …

NSW bushfires

Talking about climate change and bushfires

The bushfires that struck New South Wales this spring prompted a heated debate about fire, climate change and public communications. Greens MP Adam Bandt sparked the debate with a Tweet on 17th October arguing that the new Australian Government’s Direct Action Plan on climate change would lead to more bushfires: Why Tony Abbott's plan means more bushfires for Australia & more pics like this of Sydney — Adam Bandt (@AdamBandt) October 17, 2013 Conservative politicians and commentators, such as Environment Minister Greg Hunt, accused Bandt of insensitivity for trying to make a political point about climate change during the bushfires, arguing that he was ‘politicising a tragedy’. Taking a different tack, Prime Minister Tony Abbott dismissed any link between the bushfires and climate change, arguing that bushfires are part of the Australian experience. While bushfires are nothing new for Australians, it is clear that climate change is leading to an increase in the kind of hot and dry conditions that lead to dangerous bushfires.

William Shakespeare - a master of rhetoric

Language Intelligence – the art of rhetoric

I only read one serious book over my summer break – Joe Romm’s Language Intelligence. The rest of my reading time was devoted to indulging my love of science fiction – hey, I was on holidays after all! Language intelligence is a book about the neglected art of rhetoric. The subtitle is ‘Lessons on persuasion from Jesus, Shakespeare, Lincoln and Lady Gaga’. Joe Romm has pulled together the secrets of the greatest communicators in history to show how you can apply these tools to your writing, speaking, blogging — even your Tweeting. Joe Romm is best known for his blog Climate Progress, founded in 2006 with the support of the Center for American Progress. It’s a blog about climate science, solutions and politics that speaks truth about climate change to the politicians, bureaucrats and sceptics that seek to delay an effective response to climate change. Romm works tirelessly to debunk lies and misconceptions about climate change. He lives and breathes climate politics – particularly US politics – and is the embodiment of a ‘climate hawk’. …

Stand up paddleboarding at Bendalong

Back to reality

I’ve just enjoyed a month off, spending time with my family and camping in some beautiful places on the South Coast of NSW – Jervis Bay and Bendalong. It was a real break, where I tried not to think too much about things like climate change and sustainability and avoided most media. We patted the famous semi-tame stingrays at Bendalong, tried our hand at stand up paddleboarding and spent endless hours at the beach. The rhythms of nature governed our days and time passed slowly and languidly. This week, I came back to the reality of a world struggling to respond to climate change. As soon as I stepped off my morning train in Sydney, I could feel the frenetic pace of the city, so different to nature’s rhythms. I could sense the energy being used, the emissions being generated, in a quest for growth and consumption. I immediately wanted to retreat back to my quiet holiday lifestyle, but that wasn’t an option. I started to ease my way back into a connected lifestyle, soaking …