Communicating the challenges associated with climate change is one of the most important tasks responsible science journalism now faces. With the ongoing flooding situation in many parts of the UK the temptation to make the visual link, using pictures of deluged communities and dinghy-riding politicians is understandable but unfortunate. Research suggests that doom-laden imagery often leaves people feeling paralysed and powerless to do anything about it, not only literally but metaphorically swamped.
To get an idea of what we mean check out the file below for some (free to use) pics we think are ten times more inspirational, motivational and encouraging than most of the stuff committed to print and pixel during this crisis. (Also, of course, check out the image we’ve used to illustrate our own post. To give a twist on the familiar sight of a deluged high street we hired UK freestyle pogo champion Karl Griffiths and top UK pogo acrobat Sean Kobayashi to bounce their way up Cheltenham High Street – not, we hope it goes without saying, to suggest the pogo as a serious method of getting about in floods nor, heaven forfend, to make light of the many people who have suffered terrible hardships during the floods – but merely to inject an element of positivity into an all too familiar mise-en-scène.)
It’s not all bad news of course: the good news is more and more picture editors are getting it. But far too many still don’t. Please write to them, email them, facebook and twitter them. You may even know a few picture editors personally – if so, ask them when was the last time they thought about climate change imagery in a fresh way. While some picture editors give an impression of being hostile to change, in our experience given the right nudges many are surprisingly open to suggestions, so make some of your own or point them to this page. Let’s have a bonfire of the banalities and relegate scary, end-is-nigh imagery to the history books where it belongs.
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