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PRINTED FROM the OXFORD RESEARCH ENCYCLOPEDIA, CLIMATE SCIENCE (climatescience.oxfordre.com). (c) Oxford University Press USA, 2016. All Rights Reserved. Personal use only; commercial use is strictly prohibited (for details see Privacy Policy and Legal Notice).

date: 24 September 2018

Summary and Keywords

Environmental organizations have been critically important in publicizing and supplying arguments about climate change, just as with the other environmental issues facing contemporary societies. In their campaigns and activism, environmental groups need to be able to make influential and widely circulated claims about the state of the natural world or the ecological impact of human activities. To do this, they have to “manage” their relationship to science. Environmentalists (in contrast to many other campaigners) are obliged to be science communicators because the convincingness of their message depends on the underlying presumption that their claims have a basis in factual, scientific accuracy.

Facing the science and communication challenges of climate change, environmentalists have often found their role to be an unusual one. Unlike in most other ecological campaign areas, they have been committed to defending or bolstering mainstream scientific opinion about the nature and causes of climate change. Nonetheless, they have sought ways of distancing themselves from some of the policy and technological options apparently favored by leading scientific figures. And they have pioneered approaches based more on long-term investment strategies and normative values which, to some degree, allow them to sidestep difficulties associated with the adoption of a subordinate role in the science communication arena.

Keywords: ENGOs, environmental NGOs, science communication, authority of science/scientific authority, unburnable carbon, fracking, decarbonization, peer review and quality control

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