May 1, 2009 – Signal Hill, CA – Tom Bowman, president of Bowman Global Change, a firm that helps organizations make sustainable transformations, has written a paper defining the adjustments to climate change communication programs required to encourage sustainable behaviors and drive society’s response to climate change.
The paper, entitled “A Turning Point in Climate Change Communication Priorities,” argues that current communication efforts, which focus on individual consumer behaviors, are ineffective and out of scale in the face of the climate crisis. Alternatively, public communication campaigns can create a social dialogue–dialogue that is key to galvanizing the public around a collective goal and stimulating the broad cultural changes required to respond to climate change.
Bowman emphasizes that the public is not getting the scientific information it needs to make informed decisions. The challenge is to make the science accessible to everyone, with specific information that is helpful to non-experts. In addition, shorthand facts tied to environmental impact enable behavioral change and motivate the public to action. For example, connecting car mileage ratings to carbon emission rates fuels public demand for cars with better mileage, a systemic improvement with significant impact on reducing greenhouse gas emission rates.
Calling on communication experts to bridge the gap between the scientists and the public, Bowman says the public is not disinterested but isn’t sure what to do. “Even a motivated public is prevented from making meaningful lifestyle choices because they lack specific information about the scope of the challenge and the appropriate responses to take,” says Bowman.