During the past decade, skepticism about climate change has frustrated those seeking to engage broad publics and motivate them to take action on the issue. In this innovative ethnography, Candis Callison examines the initiatives of social and professional groups as they encourage diverse American publics to care about climate change. She explores the efforts of science journalists, scientists who have become expert voices for and about climate change, American evangelicals, Indigenous leaders, and advocates for corporate social responsibility.
The disparate efforts of these groups illuminate the challenge of maintaining fidelity to scientific facts while transforming them into ethical and moral calls to action. Callison investigates the different vernaculars through which we understand and articulate our worlds, as well as the nuanced and pluralistic understandings of climate change evident in different forms of advocacy. As she demonstrates, climate change offers an opportunity to look deeply at how issues and problems that begin in a scientific context come to matter to wide publics, and to rethink emerging interactions among different kinds of knowledge and experience, evolving media landscapes, and claims to authority and expertise.
1. The Inuit Gift 39
2. Reporting on Climate Change 81
3. Blessing the Facts 121
4. Negotiating Risk, Expertise, and Near-Advocacy 162
5. What Gets Measured Gets Managed 201
Epilogue. Rethinking Public Engagement and Collaboration 243
Appendix. A Decade of Climate Change 253
"Candis Callison has done the impossible. In the reams of words written about climate change, one rarely finds a fresh perspective or responses to the most salient questions. Why does climate change matter, why do some care about it while others are indifferent, and is scientific knowledge the only way to address these questions? Ethnography, Callison shows, can offer deeply satisfying answers where other methods fail. Through fascinating stories of communal meaning-making, Callison also demonstrates how work across disciplines can make sense of the spectrum from climate fundamentalism to climate denial."
Sheila Jasanoff, author of
Science and Public Reason
"A gifted storyteller who brings enormous empathy and nuance to each group she documents, Candis Callison depicts the current discursive struggles over climate change, as such diverse players as corporate responsibility advocates, evangelical Christians, and Inuit tribal leaders, not to mention scientists and journalists, seek to reconcile the need for dramatic change with their existing sets of professional norms and cultural values. This is essential reading for anyone who wants to better understand how science gets refracted across an increasingly diverse media landscape and for anyone who wants to understand how they might be more effective at changing entrenched beliefs and practices."
Henry Jenkins, coauthor of
Spreadable Media: Creating Value and Meaning in a Networked Culture
“How Climate Change Comes to Matter is dense, intelligent, and thoroughly researched…. She presents an interesting conversation about climate change, rather than engaging in many of the typical debates one could read anywhere. Her unique perspective informs the content of the book and makes for an interesting read.”
“... readers can reflect on the experimental methods used for public engagement and questions of media, politics, and scientific expertise that operate on shifting theoretical, empirical, and moral perspectives to help consider definitions of what climate change means. Recommended. Graduate students/faculty.”
R. A. Delgado Jr.
"This book is a marvel. It brings climate change research directly back into the folds of the anthropological tradition; and brings the anthropological tradition to the beating centers of climate change discourse. If you have never before had an interest in climate change, you will be spellbound by this ethnography. If you do have an interest in climate change, this book is essential."
"...a key work examining the wide variety of 'discourse coalitions' involved in climate communication. It is a magisterial treatment of the deep roots of contention in this momentous and unfolding story."