As part of our commitment to effective science translation, the FrameWorks Institute is working with zoos and aquariums across the country to reframe climate change discussions for the American public.
Recently, our work was featured in the New York Times article, “Intriguing Habitats and Careful Discussions of Climate Change.”
Below is an excerpt from the article:
Word choices matter, research showed. The FrameWorks Institute, a nonprofit organization that studies how people process abstract concepts, found the phrase “greenhouse gas effect” perplexed people. “They think it is a nice place for plants to grow,” said FrameWorks’ president, Susan Bales. So her group advised substituting “heat-trapping blanket” to describe the accumulation of gases in the atmosphere.
Since 2010, we have trained education specialists and interpreters in major informal science institutions to integrate the “heat-trapping blanket” metaphor and related communications tools in their exhibits and live demonstrations. Through this training, interpreters learn framing skills that enable visitors to think like “citizens” when it comes to addressing climate changes in the ocean.
Working with marine scientists at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute, we have learned that climate effects on the ocean, including water temperature changes and ocean acidification, are having a significant impact on marine animals and the ocean ecosystem. As we move forward, we have plans to continue working with our partners (including the National Network of Climate Change Interpreters and the New England Aquarium) to translate these and other concepts so that the American public is informed and empowered to act.
To learn more about our current research and recommendations, see our issue page on communicating climate change effects on the ocean. And stay tuned for our research updates in the coming year!