On the other side of this issue are those with a more traditional risk-communication mentality: learn as much as you can about your audience and use that information to frame your message in a way that is likely going to fit within their existing worldview, appeals to their core values, and dislodges the conversation from politically-charged topics. The basic logic here is easy to understand: Rome wasn’t built in a day (climate change skeptics won’t be making protest signs for the next climate march no matter what you say in one conversation; it’s better to pick your battles). So goes the thinking - if we can convince people to do something now…isn’t that better than nothing?
But where does that leave us?
I certainly think it’s better to look at these issues holistically when possible, but how should we weigh the potential short-term losses with the long-term gains? To put it more concretely, let’s take the example of a homeowner who approaches the permit desk at his city planner’s office hoping to discuss ways to prevent damage from the increasingly frequent floods. Let’s assume that the permitting staff has reason to believe this citizen is highly skeptical of the role humankind is playing in climate change. Should that permitting staff really bring up greenhouse gas emissions in that conversation? Is addressing mitigation so important that it’s worth jeopardizing a risk-reducing adaptation action? Where do we draw the line, and how do we know when we’ve crossed it?
 (2012). In J. van Aalst, K. Thompson, M. M. Jacobson, & P. Reimann (Eds.), The Future of Learning: Proceedings of the Tenth International Conference of the Learning Sciences, Volume 2 (pp. 2-481 to 2-482). International Society of the Learning Sciences, Inc.
Photo credit: Yale Project on Climate Change Communication. 2014. "What's in a Name? Global Warming Versus Climate Change."