delving into deep frames

Communicating the climate message to inform, but also engage and influence behaviour has proven intensely difficult. Over a decade of research on this issue has highlighted the need for communication to engage with people’s “deep frames” – beliefs formed over a lifetime, which are mostly subconscious.

My research paper, recently published in WIRES Climate Change draws upon cognitive science, evolutionary psychology and philosophy, among other fields, to explore the emerging idea that global warming exceeds modern humans’ cognitive and sensory abilities. To overcome this impasse, climate communication needs to engage people at a philosophical, sensory and feeling level.

People need to be able to feel and touch the new climate reality; to explore unfamiliar emotional terrain and be helped to conceive their existence differently. How is this to be done? The world must turn to its artists: storytellers, film-makers; musicians; painters and multi-media wizards, to name a few.

Under the global Future Earth initiative, a team of around 60,000 scientists and social scientists has been assembled to understand and report on the physical, tangible dimensions of the problem.

I argue we need 60,000 arts and humanities experts to focus upon the intangibles – the communication, engagement and meaning-making aspects of the problem.

Elizabeth Boulton, PhD Candidate, cross-disciplinary approaches to climate and environmental risk, Australian National University, Conversation, 8 Jun 2016