Climate friction: How climate change communication produces resistance to concern
Please note: This event will commence at 1pm AEST.
The Fay Gale Memorial Lecture supports an outstanding early career researcher working in Australia. They are invited to give a plenary lecture on a geographic topic of their choice. As part of the prize, the lecture will be submitted to Geographical Research for publication. The award is named in memorium of Professor Fay Gale who was a widely respected scholar. In her years of service as a geographer, she contributed much to the discipline, the academy and to the community, and had a career as a distinguished and outstanding geographer.
Following a rigorous selection process, the local Conference Organising Committee is delighted to announce Dr Chloe Lucas from the University of Tasmania as the 2020 recipient.
Communication about climate change is getting louder, more urgent, and more desperate. But what if the ways we are storying a need for climate concern actually contribute to resistance against such concern? I argue that in an effort to stimulate concern, climate communicators often fail to listen and give respect to the values and experiences of publics who are unconcerned about climate change. Climate change narratives pathologise unconcern as a negative and uniform attitude, without addressing the actual concerns and priorities of diverse unconcerned publics, or reflecting critically on the sources of these narratives beyond scientific facts. In shaping normative and unreflexive narratives of climate change concern, communicators effectively co-create counter-narratives of resistance. In this lecture I give voice to some of the stories told to me as part of my PhD research, by people unconcerned about climate change. These narratives reveal processes of discursive friction, through which values and power-dynamics struggle, and create social realities that can limit climate action. I suggest that in simplifying and policing polarised narratives of climate concern and unconcern, much climate communication masks the unruly and overlapping nature of these political forces within publics. Recognising and representing the messiness and plurality of attitudes to climate change could generate a more caring and less polarising discourse.
About the speaker
Dr Chloe Lucas is a climate communication specialist whose PhD (awarded December 2018) examined social polarisation about climate change and identified pathways to improve communication between groups with divergent views. In 2019 she was awarded the Climate Outreach International Climate Communication Research Award for this work. Dr Lucas moved into academia to pursue a research agenda identified during her ten-year career in media and communication (five years as a BBC documentary researcher and producer, and five years as a consultant for federal and local government, NRM groups, NGOs and research organisations). Her overarching career focus is to enable constructive dialogue about environmental and social challenges across cultural divisions within society.
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