Telling the Climate Story -- Alternative Narratives
We all understand the world through stories. When telling the climate story, you can choose from a variety of broad narratives frameworks -- aka narratives, frames, or storylines. Once you've woven together your themes, you can drive key points home with a pithy anecdotes.
Listeners will likely remember the stories you tell -- hopefully, the overarching narrative, but certainly your pithiest anecdote -- far longer than anything else you say.
There are many different ways to "tell the climate story." Though they arrive at similar conclusions, alternative climate narratives may have different starting points, as well as different narrators, characters, and plots.
Which storyline is most effective? It depends on the audience -- and who is speaking.
- Basic scientific narrative
- The Problem and the Solutions: "Houston, We Have a Problem"
- Clean energy opportunity
- A Global Clean Energy Revolution is Underway: Will America Lead or Lag?
- Clean Energy Jobs & Startups: The Economic Opportunity of a Lifetime"
- Breakthrough: Possible New Technologies
- Visualize Success: What Would Success Look Like?
- Historical storylines
- One of the Greatest Scientific Discoveries of All Time
- 3.5 Billion Years of Waste Management: "The History of Poop"
- Population x Consumption: Are We Reaching Earth's Limits?
- Values-driven narratives: moral, religious and family
- Intergenerational Justice: For Our Children and Grandchildren
- "Creation Care" and Other Religious Approaches
- Climate is a Moral Issue: Those Least Responsible Will Suffer Most
- Character-driven plots (meet the heroes, villians and victims)
- Pioneering Scientists: Profiles in Curiousity
- The Science Denial Industry: "Merchants of Doubt"
- Down at Ground Zero: Individual Lives and Nations Affected
- The Psychology of Denial -- We All Do It
- Credibility: Who You Gonna Believe?
- Personal narratives -- you and I
- My Personal Journey With Global Warming
- Audience Focussed: What Has Been Your Experience?
- Security-related narratives
- Climate Change as a National Security Threat
- Follow Me: The U.S. Military Leads the Way
- Military-funded Research Discovers the Greenhouse Effect
- Renewable Energy is a "Force Multiplier"
- Less Fuel Saves Lives: Marine Corps Expeditionary Energy
- Energy Security & Independence: Leave Oil Before it Leaves Us
- Climate Change as a Public Health Problem
- Playing for Keeps: Costs/Risks/Benefits of Action vs. Inaction
We've identified more than twenty-five -- and counting -- different ways to talk about climate change and solutions. Most are not mutually exclusive; almost all communicators weave together several of these "sub-plots" into their presentation.
The key is understanding the range of possibilities, becoming aware of which storyline(s) you are already using, and making conscious choices about which storylines to weave together for a given audience.
[In progress: A brief summary of each narrative, with links to full presentations based on it.]