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Activist laments: ‘When 17 Climate Narratives = No Narrative’ – Seeks better messaging in climate

Special to Climate Depot

17 Climate Narratives = No Narrative

By Mark Trexler

If you follow the science and environmental news at all, it’s hard to miss the scientifically accepted reality that continuing to warm the Earth’s atmosphere will dramatically disrupt all manner of human and natural systems.

Given that reality, there’s an obvious need for a story-based narrative around climate change that successfully communicates to mass audiences the need to confront climate change.

In fact there is no shortage of climate narratives, even we limit our consideration to “pro-response” narratives. Including the:

  • 2oC Success Narrative
  • 350 ppm Emergency Narrative
  • Runaway Climate Narrative
  • Climate Justice Narrative
  • Economic/Social Collapse Narrative
  • Green Jobs Narrative
  • Rebellion Narrative
  • 100% Renewable Energy Narrative
  • Economic/Political Systems Change Narrative
  • Restoration Narrative
  • Techno-Optimism Narrative
  • Business Led Narrative
  • Individuals Led Narrative
  • Cities Led Narrative
  • Project Drawdown Narrative
  • Sustainability Narrative
  • Adaptation Narrative

That’s 17 narratives even without separating out sub-narratives, e.g. the Soil Carbon Narrative, which is included in the Restoration Narrative above.

These narratives speak to particular subsets of the population already concerned about climate change, but none of them is successfully serving as a mass communications story. In fact, given the contradictions inherent among several of the narratives, and infighting among their constituencies, the goal of an overarching narrative to successfully move the general public toward climate action is being undermined rather than advanced.

Marine biologist turned Hollywood filmmaker and communicator Randy Olson is so bothered bothered by the lack of successful narratives around progressive topics that he’s developed a detailed framework for developing better narratives, described in his just published book.

I’ve long considered climate change to be above all a communications problem, and I’ve been intrigued by Randy’s work. is a good introduction to his thinking about the importance of progressive narrative. To facilitate access to his much larger body of work, however, I’ve gathered it into an easy-to-access knowledgebase that includes blogs, talks, films, books, podcasts, and more. The knowledgebase even includes access to a FREE copy of Randy’s just released book. I urge you to take advantage of it, and become a better communicator for climate change!