How to cover the climate crisis — and fight disinformation: free online course, August 8-September 4

climate crisis

A useful learning opportunity for anyone interested in strengthening their climate communications skills: the How to cover the climate crisis — and fight disinformation free online course, August 8-September 4.

Module 1: What we know about climate change and why we know it

(August 8-14, 2022)

This is where we’ll be going over the basics of climate change – what we know about it, and why we know it. This kind of science has been building for more than 100 years, and we’ll be exploring the many branches of science that have affirmed the existence of climate change and the effects it is having around the world. You’ll also hear about what it takes to bring references to climate change into stories about phenomena like extreme weather events.

Module 2: What’s a climate story?

(August 15-21, 2022)

The short answer to the question in the title of this module is: Just about everything is a climate story these days. We’ll also be talking about how climate coverage has changed over the years, from a “both-sides” narrative that quoted deniers along with the experts on the science, and how we have evolved beyond false balance in covering climate issues — but still covering the genuine conflicts that come up in such questions as the best way to cut greenhouse gas emissions. We’ll also talk about the importance of saying what climate change isn’t, and avoiding the impulse to attribute every extreme weather event to climate change.

Module 3: Spotting and combating disinformation

(August 22-28, 2022)

In this module, we talk about the tools of deception that have been used for decades by the fossil fuel industry and its supporters, as well as other industries that want to avoid regulation. You will learn to recognize and counter the most common techniques in your work.

Module 4: Spotting climate stories and writing them

(August 29-September 4, 2022)

In our final module, we’ll be looking beyond sad polar bears to tell the kinds of stories that grab readers — stories that include accurate representations of the science, but also tell human stories that your audience will feel powerfully. We’ll be discussing survey research that shows what kinds of stories readers most want to read when it comes to climate change (hint: stories about solutions are very popular) and about the dangers of climate “doomism,” and why it isn’t stupid to write about hope.

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