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Communicating Climate Change – Why So Toxic?

#LSERapley

Speaker: Professor Chris Rapley


Chris Rapley was the Director of the British Antarctic Survey from 1998 to 2007 and was also appointed Director of the Science Museum between 2007
and 2010. He is now a Professor of Climate Science in the Department of Earth Sciences at University College London.

Chair: Professor Tim Dyson


Tim Dyson is Professor of Population Studies in the Department of International Development at LSE.

Hosted by: The Department of International Development and The Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment
It doesn’t have to be True, it just has to be Believed

What you Believe about Climate Change doesn’t


reflect what you Know, it reflects Who you Are
405.89
We have Upset the
Energy Balance of
the Planet
As the Energy Accumulates …

• The world warms

• Ice & snow melt

• Sea levels rise

• Ocean and Atmosphere circulation patterns change

• Water cycle accelerates

• Extreme Weather Events increase

• Ecosystems respond

• Food and Water supplies are affected

• Infrastructure is damaged or requires upgrading

• Economic and Political Stability are affected

• People and Species are impacted


Climate TO PROSPER

Imperfectly Adapted
Climate TO PROSPER

$306bn in 2017
2007-2010 Syrian Drought
Threat Multiplier
Rising global temperatures, changing precipitation patterns,
climbing sea levels, and more extreme weather events will
intensify the challenges of global instability, hunger, poverty,
and conflict.
Diplomatic Triumph
Common Goal - To hold temperatures to well below 2oC
relative to preindustrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit
the temperature increase to 1.5oC

Collective Plan - To cut anthropogenic emissions and to


achieve a balance with removals by sinks in the second half
of C21st
Human Ingenuity Unbounded
Greatest Collective Action in History
Running Out of Time
Citizens’ Concerns
Urge to Know

Urge to Know
Anxiety, Fear, Loss, Grief, Guilt, Helplessness
Threatens deeply established Practices and cherished Lifestyles
Nature Individuality

Life Support Personal Freedom

Threat Hoax
Reducing Harm State Interference

Collective Action Regulation

Challenges strongly held Values and powerful issues of Identity


Negation, Disavowal, Denial, Evasion - Silence, Lack of Action
Operate Body

Navigate Physical World

Navigate Social World

Reflective Thought
Keep You Alive

Avoid Disadvantage

Seek Advantage
Meaning in Context - Fast
Machine for Jumping to Conclusions
evolutionary history / species-
level biological factors

individual genetic factors


mental sensations
(perceptions, associations &
feelings)
memories and experiences

physical sensations thoughts

emotions and mood

decisions / actions
pressures from the social
environment

influences from cultural


heritage

Adapted from Burton,”A Skeptic’s Guide to the Mind” 2013


We React much more than we Think
We are highly influenced by those we hold in Esteem, whose
Esteem we seek, and whose World View and Values we share

We are ‘cognitive misers’ - we know less about topics than we


realise and seek knowledge and insight from Trusted Sources
Tribe A

Tribe B
Capable of Believing Almost Anything
We ALL have the Mk1 Brain!
What to Do?
Constant Vigilance
&
The Scientific Method
Engage Others
• Who is your Audience?

• What do you want them to Do?

• How can they Do It?


Degree of Engagement
Value Barriers
Climate Science Community - Society Interactions
Knowledge & Understanding Exchange
- Linear model Officials & Briefings Political &
- Honest Broker CLIMATE
- Co-Production Professional Business ACTION
Analysts Decision Makers

Climate Science Influence


Community

General Public
CLIMATE
&
ACTION
- Narrative
Thought Leaders
- Dialogue

(nb; Multi-Level Governance and Inter/Multi-National dimensions not shown) V7 07-09-18


Debate / Dialogue
Climate Science Community - Society Interactions
Knowledge & Understanding Exchange
- Linear model Officials & Briefings Political &
- Honest Broker CLIMATE
- Co-Production Professional Business ACTION
Analysts Decision Makers

Opponents Influence
of Climate Influence
Action Influence

Climate Science Influence


Community Media
Evidence &
Briefings
Influence
Influence

Evidence & Proponents


Briefings of Climate
Influence
Action

General Public
Arts CLIMATE
Collaboration
&
Museums ACTION
- Narrative Sci Ctrs
Thought Leaders
- Dialogue

(nb; Multi-Level Governance and Inter/Multi-National dimensions not shown) V7 07-09-18


Debate / Dialogue
Climate Science Community - Society Interactions
Knowledge & Understanding Exchange
- Linear model Officials & Briefings Political &
- Honest Broker CLIMATE
- Co-Production Professional Business ACTION
Analysts Decision Makers

Opponents Influence
of Climate Influence
Climate Science Community Action Influence

- Individuals
- Groups
- Research Centres Influence
-
-
Funding Agencies
Professional Bodies Media
- Meta-Programmes Evidence &
- Advisory Bodies Briefings
Influence
Influence

Evidence & Proponents


Briefings of Climate
Influence
Action

General Public
Arts CLIMATE
Collaboration
&
Museums ACTION
- Narrative Sci Ctrs
Thought Leaders
- Dialogue

(nb; Multi-Level Governance and Inter/Multi-National dimensions not shown) V7 07-09-18


Debate / Dialogue
Climate Science Community - Society Interactions

Knowledge & Understanding Exchange


- Linear model Senior Officials & Briefings Political &
- Honest Broker Briefings CLIMATE
- Co-Production
Risk FCO/BEIS Professional Business ACTION
Workshop
Flood
Analysts Decision Makers
Risk
Training
ESRC
PACT
Broker Training
Opponents Influence

Message of Climate Influence


Framing Action Influence
Formal
Climate Science
contribution to
NERC Influence
Community
DTPs Media
Writer’s
Workshop
Evidence &
Briefings
Influence

Meaningful Influence
Action
Evidence & Proponents
Workshop
Briefings of Climate
Influence
Action

General Public
Arts CLIMATE
Collaboration
&
Museums ACTION
- Narrative Sci Ctrs
Thought Leaders
- Dialogue

(nb; Multi-Level Governance and Inter/Multi-National dimensions not shown) V7 07-09-18


Debate / Dialogue
Mode of Engagement

×
Debate Dialogue


• Assuming there is one right answer • Assuming others have pieces of the
• Adversarial answer
• About winning • Collaborative
• Listening for flaws • About finding common ground
• Defending assumptions • Listening to understand
• Pursuing your outcome • Exploring assumptions
• Asymmetries of engagement • Discovering new possibilities
• Entertainment • Seeking constructive progress
Mode of Delivery

Information Deficit
Mode of Delivery

- Engaging

- Meaningful

- Hopeful

- Actionable

- Experiential

Storytelling - Informed Citizen Role


If

the Earth

were only a few feet

in diameter, floating a few feet

above a field somewhere, people

would come from everywhere to

marvel at it. They would declare

it as sacred because it was

the only one. And they

would protect it, so

that it would not

be hurt

Joe Miller

‘atmosphere’

Museums - Exploratory and Experiential


Visual Media - Large Outreach
Theatre - Immersive
Theatre Director

Playwright Scientist
What kind of a Future do We want to Create?
It doesn’t have to be True, it just has to be Believed

What you Believe about Climate Change doesn’t


reflect what you Know, it reflects Who you Are
To tackle Climate Change

we have to

change

Who People Are