Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Beyond polar bears? Experts look for a new vision of climate change to combat skepticism

Date:
May 27, 2010
Source:
Wiley-Blackwell
Summary:
Climate change is about more than just polar bears. New research reviews the efforts of journalists, campaigners and politicians to engage the British public with climate change and explores how new "visual strategies" can communicate climate change messages against a backdrop of increased climate skepticism.

Climate change is about more than just polar bears. That is the message from Dr Kate Manzo whose research into climate change communication has been published in Meteorological Applications. The research, which reviews the efforts of journalists, campaigners and politicians to engage the British public with climate change, explores how new 'visual strategies' can communicate climate change messages against a backdrop of increased climate skepticism.

"There have been various efforts to put a face on the climate change issue," said Dr Manzo, from Newcastle University. "Communicators need to move away from the traditional images of polar bears or fear-laden imagery to find new, inspirational motifs to engage people with climate change. My research has uncovered a variety of possibilities -- such as windmills as icons of renewable energy -- as well as alternatives to documentary photography as the dominant form of climate change communication. Artists and cartoonists are among the producers of inspirational alternatives."

"A recent study of American public perception showed that fewer people are convinced of the reality of climate change, and of those that are only 36% attribute it to human activity. This shows the variance of levels of climate change knowledge and understanding, which effects how people behave in response. It also highlights the need for strategies to boost the cognitive and behavioural elements of climate change engagement without resorting to methods such as fear appeals that are, at best, a double edged sword."

In her study Manzo analysed the traditional standard bearing symbols of climate change, especially polar bears, which (like the images of the global poor that sometimes appear in relation to climate change) are traditionally cast as being 'helpless' and 'stranded' victims as their habitat changes around them.

The most famous example of a polar bear gaining iconic status is Knut, the cub from Berlin Zoo whose image was used so successfully for political and commercial campaigns that he became the biggest cash grossing animal of all time.

"Polar bears score highly in the so called identifiable victim stakes. Findings suggest that the image of a lone polar bear, like Knut, wins hands down in the affective stakes provoking feelings of pity and concern as well as charitable giving."

But is it time for those communicating climate change messages to find a new motif? To answer this question Manzo studied recent charity campaigns, climate change photography and the framing of climate change articles in the press.

Dr Manzo suggests that icons of extreme weather and renewable energy are the standard alternatives to faces of climate change, with images such as windmills providing an inspirational approach to a climate change message which is inherently difficult to visualise.

"Visually pleasing images have indirect value when they allow organisations that use them to raise money for climate action and science. Icons of renewable energy, such as windmills, change the frame of reference from either business as usual or visions of apocalypse to possible strategies of mitigation."

"All of these alternatives represent efforts to move beyond polar bears as the iconic representation of climate change and the visual sign of the so called 'age of the melt,'" concludes Manzo. "The challenge is to use visuals creatively in ways that can address all three aspects of climate change communication, i.e. cognition, affect and behaviour, without enhancing a sense of fatalism and disengagement."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Wiley-Blackwell. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Kate Manzo. Beyond polar bears? Re-envisioning climate change. Meteorological Applications, 2010; DOI: 10.1002/met.193

Cite This Page:

Wiley-Blackwell. "Beyond polar bears? Experts look for a new vision of climate change to combat skepticism." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 27 May 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/05/100527101055.htm>.
Wiley-Blackwell. (2010, May 27). Beyond polar bears? Experts look for a new vision of climate change to combat skepticism. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 2, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/05/100527101055.htm
Wiley-Blackwell. "Beyond polar bears? Experts look for a new vision of climate change to combat skepticism." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/05/100527101055.htm (accessed September 2, 2014).

Share This




More Earth & Climate News

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: Thousands of Fish Dead in Mexico Lake

Raw: Thousands of Fish Dead in Mexico Lake

AP (Sep. 2, 2014) — Over 53 tons of rotting fish have been removed from Lake Cajititlan in western Jalisco state. Authorities say that the thousands of fish did not die of natural causes. (Sep. 2) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Iceland Volcano Spewing Smoke

Raw: Iceland Volcano Spewing Smoke

AP (Sep. 2, 2014) — The alert warning for the area surrounding Iceland's Bardarbunga volcano was kept at orange on Tuesday, indicating increased unrest with greater potential for an eruption. Smoke is spewing from the volcano, and lava is spouting nearby. (Sept. 2) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
U.N. Says Ebola Travel Restrictions Will Cause Food Shortage

U.N. Says Ebola Travel Restrictions Will Cause Food Shortage

Newsy (Sep. 2, 2014) — The U.N. says the problem is two-fold — quarantine zones and travel restrictions are limiting the movement of both people and food. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Sharks Off the Menu and on the Tourist Trail in Palau

Sharks Off the Menu and on the Tourist Trail in Palau

AFP (Sep. 2, 2014) — Tourists in Palau clamour to dive with sharks thanks to a pioneering conservation initiative -- as the island nation plans to completely ban commercial fishing in its vast ocean territory. 01:15 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins