One-Planet Talking blog

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Matthew Nisbet's picture

The Green New Deal has done damage to the Democratic party’s chances heading into the 2020 elections, while hurting efforts to build momentum on behalf of climate and energy policy options capable of passing during an era of enduring divided government, I argue in a new “Sciences, Politics, Publics” column at Issues in Science and Technology magazine.

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Matthew Nisbet's picture

Last October, the headlines that ran across my computer screen left a sickening feeling in my stomach. “Major climate report describes a strong risk of crisis as early as 2040,” warned the New York Times. “The world has just over a decade to get climate change under control, U.N. scientists say,” echoed the Washington Post.

The next morning felt to me like the day after the 2016 election, I write in an essay published last week at Scientific American

The new U.N. climate change report had transformed society’s failures, so obvious yet overlooked for so long, into a reality that left me paralyzed by doubt. Given the stakes involved, should I remain a researcher and academic, should I turn to activism, or should I become something else?

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Matthew Nisbet's picture

The details of a proposed Green New Deal, announced this week by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Sen. Ed Markey, are sure to elevate the political agenda status of climate change and be celebrated by many political progressives.
 
But as I argue in a commentary at Scientific American, we should be wary about what the Green New Deal will do to the already contentious debate over climate change, since it poses deeply challenging consequences for how we think and talk about the problem moving forward, turning policy action into a litmus test for political leaders.
 
The Ocasio-Markey plan pairs the goal of zeroing out greenhouse gas emissions from the electricity and transportation sectors with longstanding progressive causes that include creating a government job program, increasing unionization, providing universal health insurance, reducing income inequality, and combating gender and racial discrimination.
 
With this new re-framing, actions to address climate change not only mean fully transitioning away from a fossil-fuel dependent society in a matter of decades, already a tough sell for conservatives and many centrists, but this historically unprecedented transition is now only achievable by transforming the U.S. into a social democracy.

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Etsuko Kinefuchi's picture

I was told that COPs are overwhelming, and it certainly was. Previously, my main source of information about what is going on at these conferences was the news. As we are well aware from media framing theories, all representations champion selected aspects of an event while leaving out others, constructing a certain reality for the audience. As my co-participant for the 2nd week of the conference, Mira, posted earlier, there were a whole lot more activities going on besides the diplomats’ negotiations to which observers had almost no access. At any given time, there were multiple concurrent side events – panel presentations, press conferences, workshops and more. Most of these are open to everyone, but some were accessible by invitation. It was interesting to attend the COP and compare my experience to news media’s reports. I want to focus this reflection on the aspects of the conference that did not get widely reported in the news media. The news media understandably focus on the progress of the high-level negotiations that were stagnant throughout the conference. However, what’s left out of the reports are vibrant grassroots and non-governmental efforts to connect, collaborate, and share across the nations. A roundtable discussion on climate education I participated, for example, was facilitated by the Center for Environmental Education in India. Participants across the globe discussed challenges, resources and indicators of meaningful outcomes in promoting literacy and capacity to face climate change. I was able to learn from and share ideas with people from countries in Latin America, Africa, and Europe.

[This post is part of a series offered by IECA members attending COP24 in Katowice, Poland.]

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Anna Palliser's picture

Chui-Ling Tam’s blog of Dec 4th ‘Why we should stop labelling people climate change deniers’ reminded me of a conversation with a Māori freedom diver on South Island New Zealand, several years ago. Many locals were saying the fish stocks in their harbor had declined dramatically because of overfishing but the diver refused to engage with these perspectives. He said the harbor was a strange place and he spoke a lot about Tangaroa, the Māori god of the sea. It was clear he passionately loved the sea and all its lifeforms, and I could not understand the position he took. I was a newcomer to Aotearoa New Zealand at that time, and while I still don’t fully understand, I think I understand better now. I think he considered the number of fish in the harbor was Tangaroa’s business, not ours, that it is arrogant for humans to assume the ability to control such things. Lately, wandering the endless corridors of COP 24 in Poland, I have been thinking about his perspective.

[This post is part of a series offered by IECA members attending COP24 in Katowice, Poland.]

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Jill Hopke's picture

The annual UN climate negotiations, COP24, concluded Saturday in Katowice, Poland with an agreement to bring the much heralded 2015 Paris accord to limit global greenhouse emissions into force. There is a stark disconnect between what would be required for nations to ramp up their climate commitments by 2020 and the lower level of public conversation these climate talks garnered.

I attended week one of the talks as an observer participant on the behalf the IECA. If the 2015 Paris climate summit ended with a message of hope and resolve to collectively stem dangerous anthropogenic interference, COP24 underscored the importance of domestic politics for climate policy. The change in national political contexts on the part of not only the United States but also Brazil was fully apparent. The “Yellow Vests,” or "gilets jaunes," protests that have rocked France, a key player in advancing global climate action, since mid-November highlight the critical nature of public support for domestic climate policies and that such policies must include mechanisms to blunt their impact.

[This post is part of a series offered by IECA members attending COP24 in Katowice, Poland.]

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Mira Rochyadi-Reetz's picture

[This post is part of a series offered by IECA members attending COP24 in Katowice, Poland.]

What actually happened at COP24 besides the negotiations between parties? The answer is: countless side events and press conferences. Since most of the negotiation process at the second week was not open for observers like me, I spent my time visiting pavilions from countries, banking institutions and transnational organizations like the EU. Those pavilions remind me of the world’s biggest book exhibition in Frankfurt or the tourism industry exhibition in Berlin, which is also held every year. Almost every pavilion was built in a sophisticated way, not simply a square box with chairs and desks. Most of them were well designed with huge LCD walls, meeting rooms, professional light and sound system equipment, private media center and even luxury kitchens. Do they really need all of that to inform the world what each of them is doing to mitigate climate change? What will happen to those pavilions after the COP? I cannot imagine how much total carbon and waste all those pavilions produced during COP.

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Anna Palliser's picture

[This post is part of a series offered by IECA members attending COP24 in Katowice, Poland.]

If ever there was a time to trespass beyond the conventional boundaries of what is said and not said in the different arenas of our lives, it is now. In the first couple of days of COP 24, representatives of the UN and of the World Bank, along with Sir David Attenborough, urged the parties (the representatives of governments from around the world) to act decisively, to be brave and uncompromising in making the changes that are needed, within the brief 12-year window given to us by the latest IPCC report. One week later and forward movement at the conference has been halted by four oil-producing nations refusing to “welcome” the IPCC report, in this way preventing the consensus that would lead to a full embrace of the action it calls for [1]. At the same time, the US is permitted to extol the virtues of coal, and gas within the conference venue [2]. It seemed to me, while I was at COP 24 for week one, that there are elephants in some of these conference rooms that are the size of blue whales.

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Mira Rochyadi-Reetz's picture

[This post is part of a series offered by IECA members attending COP24 in Katowice, Poland.]

This is my first time at COP and since I am participating during the second week, I had the opportunity to check on some notes from a fellow COP24 observer who attended meetings last week. On my way to Katowice, I read a note by Marissa Lerner on 6th December about a Wrap-up Meeting of the Preparatory Phase for Talanoa Dialogue. The Chinese delegation’s statement sparked my interest. Her (or his?) statement was: “… IPCC is composed of very specialized scientists who can provide good predictions of scenarios as to economic and social costs or impacts. As to political risks involved they don’t have sufficient information.”

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Jill Hopke's picture

I am attending the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) climate change negotiations, COP24, for the first time this week. In UN-lingo “COP24” means this is the 24th Conference of the Parties since 1995 when COP1 was held in Berlin, Germany. 

The COP24 is taking place in Katowice, Poland from Dec. 2 to 14. It has brought tens of thousands of people, including delegates, or “parties,” along with civil society representatives, to Poland’s Upper Silesia region. 

As media coverage has already noted, this is Polish coal country, with about 80% of the nation’s electricity coming from that fossil fuel. The major expected policy outcome of this round of international climate negotiations is the “rulebook” for putting the much-heralded 2015 Paris Agreement into practice. 

As a gathering of heads of state, multinational organizations and civil society, can the UNFCCC and other climate action stakeholders use these arguably esoteric negotiations as a mechanism to engage people in their home countries on climate change? 

[This post is part of a series offered by IECA members attending COP24 in Katowice, Poland.]

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Chui-Ling Tam's picture

In the westernmost reaches of Nunavut, on the Northwest Passage, Inuit hunters have told me some pithy things about climate change.

The land is changing. It isn’t climate change. This is part of cycles. Our elders saw this coming.

Some of the most visible and profound effects of global warming are occurring in the Arctic. Some Inuit are worried climate change will permanently alter the world. Others say it will pass, as other times of want and plenty have passed through the Inuit’s long cycles of life in the Arctic.

In Inuit Nunangat, the Inuit homeland in Canada, perceptions about climate change cannot be divided into two camps of “believers” and “deniers.” The situation is far more complex.

To understand climate change communication and adaptation in maritime communities, my research team has travelled to the Canadian Arctic, Indonesia and the Philippines to find out what local communities have to say about climate change.

The answer so far? It varies.

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Gregg Walker's picture

The two week session of UN Climate Change negotiations has begun in Katowice, Poland. Six IECA members are participating. 

We will post comments periodically. Our first week team is Jill Hopke, Anna Palliser, and Gregg Walker (me).

This morning - on the long bus ride from Krakow to Katowice, I sat next to one of the senior negotiators from Chile.  I learned a lot about what he and colleagues in other developing countries hope for and expect from the COP.  He believes that the Parties will approve a Paris “Rule Book,” although he (and many of us here) are concerned about the implications of Brazil’s presidential election.

 

 

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Richard Doherty's picture

Greetings Folks,

A month or two back, long-time member, and former IECA chair and EC journal editor Steve Depoe, suggested we support the National Science Teachers Association's position statement on "The Teaching of Climate Science." The board wholeheartedly agreed and I drafted a letter for the board to review, edit and OK for release.

Finally, I've completed and mailed a letter to the NSTA in support of their position. Below is the letter.

Best,

Richard J. Doherty, Chair

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Stephen Depoe's picture

Environmental Communication Educators: I teach an undergraduate course in Environmental Communication at the University of Cincinnati once or twice a year. The course usually enrolls 30-40 students, and is dual-listed as an elective in our Environmental Studies major.

I have a new goal for the course this year--help students to build their news feeds with sites and sources pertaining to climate change, other environmental concerns, and ways in which active citizens can address those concerns via communication, political mobilization, and more.

Each of us builds our own information environment, either consciously or consciously, by what we attend to, view, read, click, and buy. Social media platforms contain embedded algorithms that feed back to us what sponsors think we want to see. We create and reinforce our own internet filter bubbles every day.

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Mark Meisner's picture

Warning: This is going to get a bit meta.

Ever since launching the IECA website 7 years ago, one question has pursued me. What does environmental communication look like?

Visitors to the site will be very familiar with the image of the green phone box in the countryside that decorates the home page. You might even be a bit tired of it :-)

Well, change is coming. We will soon be working on an overdue update to the IECA website. We will be re-theming (changing the look) of the site. And we will be making it mobile-friendly by using a responsive design. At the same time, we want to add some new images.

So, how can we show environmental communication in action? I don't mean how to show environmental issues like climate change, air pollution, forest plunder, etc. No, this is meta. How can we show communication about those and other environmental issues?

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Nancy Van Leuven's picture

By IECA Board members Hanna Morris and Nancy Van Leuven

Set amidst the bluest skies and towering pines of Eugene, Oregon, IAMCR 2018 was focused on sustainability and media research, an ideal opportunity for IECA Board members Gabi Hadil, Hanna Morris, and Nancy Van Leuven to join a multitude of IAMCR board panelists to debate a hot topic:  How can conferences be more sustainable?

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Stephen Depoe's picture

IECA members and list-servers: Hi again. New thread here. As you know, I am interested in building value for IECA as a professional organization, and also in growing the scope and impact of environmental communication as a global academic field as well as an ethical enterprise of practice.

Here is a new and important idea, something we should already be doing on our own as environmental scholars/educators/advocates practitioners and IECA members, but something we can do together to leverage our numbers and our diversity as a community.

Let's increase our social media activity to circulate the latest results of environmental communication research, relevant news from around the world, scientific breakthroughs in climate change and other areas, and a host of other topics. Let's expand the EC social media universe!!

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Stephen Depoe's picture

IECA colleagues: As you may know, since Fall 2015 I have required students taking my undergraduate Environmental Communication course to join IECA with a student membership plus on-line journal subscription (2017 cost: $76). I have built a number of assignments around this membership that I call "IECA excursions." See https://theieca.org/resources/courses/environmental-communication-ieca-excursion-assignments for a list of assignments. I have pitched the membership to students as on par or less expensive than a textbook in many of their classes, plus providing exposure to a professional organization in a possible career field for some of them.

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Jennifer Good's picture

On Monday, the final day of the International Communication Association’s annual conference, the IECA hosted a panel entitled "Engaging Diverse Voices in Environmental Communication Pedagogy." The panel was at 8:00am but we had a great turnout! There were five thought-provoking "quick talks" and an excellent conversation with the surprisingly awake and engaged early-rising attendees (see the attached photo).

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Richard Doherty's picture

Hi All,

I had the opportunity to be on the radio and talk a little about the IECA and our new local symposium initiative. I also spoke about the new weekly environmental radio show Ecotones that I am hosting on WMPG 90.9.

Here is the URL for the interview -  archive-player

The archive only last 6 weeks and the show was on March 15th, so take a listen now!

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