Creating space for science and celebrity in the public discussion of climate change
DeWitt, Sarah Louise.
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Climate change is one of the most prominent topics in news, politics, and popular culture today. For many years the topic has been presented as an unresolved debate between believers and skeptics, leading to a perpetual state of confusion and helplessness in the public eye. In the past eight months newspapers and magazines have begun to suggest that the climate change debate is over. The scientific consensus agrees that climate change is happening and it is the result of human influence on the Earth's atmosphere. Yet this consensus has not effectively translated into the public consciousness. This gap between scientific understanding and the public perception of climate change is partly a result of limitations in popular media. It also comes from scientific reluctance to embrace modern and popular cultural modes of communication such as feature films, television programs, books, and alternative news sources. This includes interaction with non-scientist communicators and spokespeople. By paying attention to popular culture events and spokespeople, being prepared to speak to a non-scientific audience, and reaching out directly to this audience, scientists can play a significant role in the evolving public dialogue on climate change.
NASA's climate change highlights are films that are part of the student's thesis project.