Narratives can motivate environmental action: the Whiskey Creek ocean acidification story

Even when environmental data quantify the risks and benefits of delayed responses to rapid anthropogenic change, institutions rarely respond promptly. We propose that narratives complementing environmental datasets can motivate responsive environmental policy. To explore this idea, we relate a case study in which a narrative of economic loss due to regionally rapid ocean acidification—an anthropogenic change—helped connect knowledge with action. We pose three hypotheses to explain why narratives might be particularly effective in linking science to environmental policy, drawing from the literature of economics, environmental policy, and cognitive psychology. It seems that yet-untold narratives may hold similar potential for strengthening the feedback between environmental data and policy and motivating regional responses to other environmental problems.

Kelly R. P., Cooley S. R. & Klinger T., in press. Narratives can motivate environmental action: the Whiskey Creek ocean acidification story. AMBIO. Article (subscription required).


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