Silent Spring 2020 was an independent study research-oriented project that touched on four major aspects of studying environmental communication, including communication models, conspiracy theories and climate change denialism, newspaper coverage on climate issues, and public opinions about climate change. The research draws attention to the fact that over the last few decades, although there is a rise in climate activism, the process of policymaking, the coverage of media exposure, and the public consensus on the causation of climate change are not optimistic. By identifying the primary obstacles and setbacks against the public belief of climate change, these research results seek to answer how these perspectives from communication and media theories can affect strategic communication practices that aim to bolster long-term global environmental sustainability.
After a diverse set of case studies, including climate change, environmental justice, the global industrial food system, public understandings of scientific risk, human-animal relations, and environmental media and journalism, below are some key findings:
- Economic concern becomes the most salient barrier against people’s eco-friendly actions although most people agree these behaviors such as using clean energy are sustainable.
- Politicization of public information about the urgency of climate actions such as media exposure is the most influential element that affects the effectiveness of public education.
- The tactic of denying the fact of climate change driven by human activities has proved to be a generalization among political campaigns, public health education, global pandemic rhetoric, and climate debates.
- Most newspaper coverage on climate issues are passive in response to public events under the influence of political leadership and media ownerships.
The report evaluates factors that have negative impacts on climate actions and environmental communication. Hence, this study provides further communicative and campaign strategies for public-relations workers and social change activists on advocating climate solutions. On the one hand, climate activists should consider political polarization when addressing the necessity of policymaking and highlight the consensus part of the public agreement on developing sustainability to gather the unity of climate advocacy. On the other hand, it is crucial to urge media organizations to take responsibility for reporting climate issues. Meanwhile, they need to put pressure on media to minimize their political affections for the sake of the public benefits. Since big entrepreneurship always plays a significant role in navigating industrial standards in sustainable productions through innovative strategies, it is critical to motivate big companies to take more action in leading an energy-efficient production and consumption for their markets. By engaging with various conceptual frameworks for addressing questions about the relationship between the environment, culture, and communication, this research project focuses on exploring the following questions: How are environmental problems discussed and mediated within the public realm? How do these rhetorical and visual discourses structure our relationship to environmental crises? How can students create communication strategies that frame environmental problems in a specific way in order to align the problem with appropriate solutions? Human-caused climate change represents one of the great environmental challenges of our time. A familiarity with the fundamentals of climate change is critical for those looking to careers in the social change field. Therefore, this report not only addresses the urgency of paying close attention to climate issues in public rhetoric but also provides useful tactics for individuals and groups to pursue the goal of sustainability and an environmental-friendly lifestyle.
Keyword: climate change, conspiracy theories, public opinions, social media activism