Bushfires and climate change communication: Between amplification and attenuation

For about a decade I have been thinking and writing about extreme weather events and their links to human-induced climate change, and this included quite a few references to Australia, especially droughts, heatwaves and bushfires. I thought the Las Conchas Fire in New Mexico, lived through by some of my family, was bad. I thought …

Climategate: Some reflections

Ten years ago (it seems like yesterday), I was doing relatively pedestrian research on how people talked about climate change. Then, one morning I woke up to the news that emails by climate scientists had been hacked and were being used to cast doubt on the credibility of climate science and the integrity of climate …

A Whole New (re-cycled) World? An interdisciplinary conversation about the Circular Economy, Synthetic Biology and Sustainability Goals

This is a guest post by Penny Polson, Carmen McLeod, Sarah Hartley and Eleanor Hadley Kershaw *** Introduction to the Circular Economy The notion of a ‘circular economy’ has been gaining a lot of traction lately. The Ellen MacArthur Foundation, in particular, has raised the profile of this radical rethinking of how consumer goods are …

What is a climate change communicator to do?

In a recent article, social scientists claim that a rhetoric of deadlines to urge action on climate change is ‘dangerous’. While I agree that it might be dangerous to get into a situation where you extend deadlines forever if you cannot achieve them, setting no deadlines at all may make it difficult to talk about …

Extreme weather talk: The sequel to the sequel

I have written quite a few blog posts over the years about extreme weather (and weather and climate). In 2013 I also published an article with Rusi Jaspal about extreme weather images… That seems now a long time ago and much better work is now done on the images front! I wrote my last post …

It’s an icon, it’s a symbol: It’s a polar bear!?

A while ago Saffron O’Neill asked me whether one should call polar bear images a climate change synecdoche or a climate change metonym? That was a good question and I should know the answer! Indeed she asked me because she thought I was an expert on that sort of stuff! I have written about metaphors. I …

Climate change metaphors: Crimes, detectives and fingerprints

For quite a few years I have written about metaphors in climate change, such as the metaphors of the greenhouse and the footprint. There is one metaphor I overlooked, and that is the one of the ‘fingerprint’. While the carbon footprint metaphor was used in order to get people to act on climate change, making them …

Groundhog day in the hothouse

On 6 August Will Steffen and others published a paper entitled “Trajectories of the Earth System in the Anthropocene”. The paper explores “the risk that self-reinforcing feedbacks could push the Earth System toward a planetary threshold that, if crossed, could prevent stabilization of the climate at intermediate temperature rises and cause continued warming on a …

Are we all alarmists now?

Over the years I have written many posts about extreme weather events on the one hand and quite a few on so-called alarmism on the other. This was in the context of working on issues related to climate change communication. Some years ago, when writing an article on communicating climate change, I included a sentence …

Air con and the apocalypse

I have recently spent a lot of time in official spaces, GP surgeries, hospitals etc. Where in the past one would sit with a window or door open, there is now air conditioning. In Eye Casualty the other day, I heard the head nurse tell a junior: “Didn’t you read the memo? We are not …