The silence around climate change requires explanation. It is not just the absence of discussion: it is a socially constructed condition of disattention with its own demographics, values and rules. It exists in multiple forms: as a total exclusion of all discussion of climate change, as boundaries that exclude aspects of climate change from discussion, or as taboos that define certain forms of expression to be socially inappropriate. This silence is a major impediment to building concerted action and it urgently requires analysis.
In a series of papers over the next few months the Climate Outreach Information Network will study the Climate Silence and suggest ways that it might be countered.
The first paper, by my colleague Dr. Adam Corner, describes the extent of the Silence and proposes that it should be broken with a series of conversations about climate change, initiated by representatives of different communities (not just green campaigners), in order to build a more meaningful storyline that speaks better to peoples core values.
The second paper in the series, by George Marshall, will explore the demographics of the silence and the ways that it is bounded and enforced. It will be published in early 2014. Please join the discussion.