Without public trust of climate change science, policymaking in a democratic society cannot address the serious threats that we face. Recent calls for proposals to increase “climate literacy” from federal agencies such as NASA, NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration), and the National Science Foundation illustrate the urgency of this crisis. Although more climate change education is certainly needed, focusing solely on climate literacy will not garner public trust and may leave out high-impact media literacy education. Climate change deniers have been more effective “educators” than scientists and science educators because their messages are (a) empowering, built on the premise that every individual can quickly learn enough to enter public discourse on climate change; and (b) delivered through many forms of media. A more effective strategy for scientists and science educators should include not only discourse approaches that enable trust, with emphasis on empowerment through reasoning skills, but also approaches that embrace the maturing discipline of media literacy education.
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