Climate Change, Politics, and Communication Research: Promising Findings, Biases, and New Directions
Matthew C. Nisbet is Professor of Communication, Public Policy, and Urban Affairs at Northeastern University, Editor of the journal Environmental Communication, and Editor-in-Chief of the recent three-volume Oxford Encyclopedia of Climate Change Communication. Among more than 70 published peer-reviewed studies and articles, he is the author of “Scientists in Civic Life: Facilitating Dialogue-based Communication” from the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and a co-author of the 2017 consensus study Communicating Science Effectively: A Research Agenda, published by the U.S. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine.
Abstract: In recent decades, a growing, cross-disciplinary scholarship has developed a deep knowledge base about the barriers to public engagement with climate change, and the social and political obstacles to effectively managing the many risks involved. Yet scholars have also tended to overemphasize social behavioral strategies designed to influence public opinion without careful consideration of the conditions under which public opinion matters to effective policy decisions and social change, or the factors that influence elite opinion. There is also the need to consider biases in social science research relative to the heavy focus on conservative ideology and denialism to the exclusion of research on how the outlook of environmentalists and liberals influences judgments about scientific uncertainty and technological solutions.