How we talk about the climate crisis is increasingly crucial to tackling it | Susanna Rustin

How we talk about the climate crisis is increasingly crucial to tackling it | Susanna Rustin

Our emotional register – how ‘doomy’ or ‘hopeful’ we are – will inevitably shape the policies we put forward

As the climate emergency creeps closer to the top of the political agenda, where it belongs, an argument is raging over communication. Exactly what to say about the environmental crisis, and how, is an important question for all sorts of people and organisations, including governments. It is particularly pressing for journalists, authors and broadcasters. For us, communication is not an adjunct to other activities such as policymaking or campaigning. It is our main job.

People need to know what is happening to glaciers, forests and endangered species, and what is being done about this. But information requires interpretation. And while editorial judgments influence the way that all subjects are covered, storytelling about the climate emergency is particularly fraught.

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