Talk About It by Scott Hershberger

COURSE: Life Sciences Communication 332: Print and Electronic Media Design

MEDIUM: Infographic, Data Visualization

Many people worry about climate change but feel powerless to do anything about it. We are currently in a state of “pluralistic ignorance”—we think that others are less supportive of climate action than they actually are. This infographic shows that we all can make a positive impact by talking about the changing climate with family, friends, coworkers, and other community members. By using shared identities and values to discuss how climate change is impacting our day-to-day lives, we can overcome pluralistic ignorance and build a better future together.

After studying math and physics as an undergraduate, I shifted gears to pursue science communication. I have spent my graduate studies working to understand the social science of how we communicate about climate change.

Creating this infographic gave me the opportunity to sum up much of what I have learned in the past two years. Social science reveals the importance of identities, values, social norms, trust, emotions, and cognitive biases, all of which are too often overlooked by physical scientists who insist that people would make the right decisions if only they had all the facts.

All the best climate science in the world, the best models, the best engineering, the best understanding of ecosystems—none of this is enough. Humanity already has the technical knowledge needed to successfully address the climate crisis, but we need strategic and empathetic communication to transform those ideas into reality.

Faced with the global scale of the problem, it is easy to get overwhelmed, but I staunchly believe that we all can use our unique skills, interests, and perspectives to make a difference on a local level. Each of us can find a climate action niche, and doing so requires talking about climate change in a way that brings us together rather than further dividing us. So get out there and have the conversations!