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Avoiding Dispatches from Hell: Communicating Extreme Events in a Persuasive, Proactive Context

  • Sean MungerEmail author
Chapter
  • 679 Downloads
Part of the Climate Change Management book series (CCM)

Abstract

Extreme weather events, like Hurricane Maria or floods in South Asia, are projecting the impacts of climate change ever more frequently into public consciousness. However, such events with their dramatic imagery risk triggering harmful reactions and behaviors that ultimately make it more difficult to motivate meaningful responses to the climate crisis. Instead of framing extreme events as validations of previous warnings (“We told you so”) or harbingers of the future (“It’ll be worse next time”), climate change professionals should communicate extreme events as one facet of a balanced choice, with a positive upside, that stakeholders can coalesce behind. Extreme events should be part of a broader context that emphasizes positive results rather than simply avoidance of harm or mitigation of its effects. An increasing trend in literature on climate change communication indicates that positive, forward-thinking messaging is the path to motivate effective action. Communication around extreme events, however, is uniquely susceptible to reinforcing unhelpful narratives of climate change catastrophe. This paper will help communicators get their messages across while avoiding these traps. This paper hopes to inform the field of climate change by highlighting the importance and the great potential contribution of a significant strategic shift in communication strategy.

Keywords

Climate change Communication Psychology Messaging Extreme weather Positive 

Notes

Acknowledgements

Special thanks to the Rose Law Firm, especially Adam Rose, Brian Riske and Cynthia Johnson.

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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centric LawLake OswegoUSA

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