Climate Change Communication: Linguistic Repertoires and Interdisciplinary Differences

By Wendy Howe.

Published by The Social Sciences Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

This paper discusses how climate change communication has been influenced by specific linguistic repertoires. In particular, this paper considers the range of arguments in the climate change discourse and the rationale behind the use of the many linguistic repertoires to communicate a particular message to a wider audience.

While climate change remains a hot topic in the news and general media with a plethora of stories, images, commentaries, scientific opinions and technical papers all keeping climate change concerns in the eye of the public, this paper highlights the range of choices made in communicating these complex issues and shows how the use of these repertoires can influence the message.

An emphasis is placed on the disciplines of science and law in this paper because although each discipline contains a high degree of knowledge about climate change issues, there are differences in the language used by the disciplines and consequently to the perceptions and responses of each discipline to the subject. This paper also embeds this discussion in the Australian context.

The aim of this paper is not only to provide an insight into the linguistic choices made in communicating these complex issues by the general public but also to show the use of these repertoires by scientists and lawyers can influence the message they are trying to deliver.

Keywords: Climate Change, Science, Law, Interdisciplinary, Perspectives, Australia

International Journal of Interdisciplinary Social Sciences, Volume 4, Issue 1, pp.259-278. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.247MB).

Wendy Howe

PhD Candidate, Environmental Law, Law, Macquarie University, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

I have worked in Australia in academic, state government and business sectors on a variety of environmental and climate change projects for a number of years. These projects have had both international and domestic perspectives and spanned an array of disciplines and policy responses. At present, I am a full time PhD candidate in the Department of Environmental Law, Division of Law at Macquarie University in Sydney. My thesis topic is “Climate Change Science and Law; Understanding Interdisciplinary Perspectives”. I have a Master of Environmental Law from Macquarie University (2005), and the Vice-Chancellor’s Commendation for Excellence (in recognition of exceptional academic achievement, 2005) and Bachelor of Arts from University of New England, (1991). My previous publications include “Assessing Climate Change; Results from the Model Evaluation Consortium for Climate Assessment” edited by Wendy Howe and Ann Henderson-Sellers, 1997.


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