‘Stories’ used to communicate climate change knowledge shape opinions and preferences, and analyzing such narratives can help explain how they are constructed and how they influence us on personal and societal scales. The narrative perspective makes it possible to identify the presence or absence of typical components in a ‘story,’ such as initial situation, complication, reaction(s), resolution, and final situation, and to identify different actors or narrative characters (heroes, villains, victims). This article reviews the notions of narratives and frames, describes narrative analysis generally and more specifically how a text linguistic perspective can benefit from and contribute to the Narrative Policy Framework in narrative analysis. It illustrates how different approaches can be applied as analytical tools to explore the effects of conflicting narratives (frames) on public opinion of and attitudes towards climate change. Applied to various text genres, the analysis identifies different components of the ‘stories,’ at overarching levels of the text as a whole and at microlevels such as sentences. This may have rhetorical implications, as controversial points of view can be hidden from critical assessment through the condensation of narrative components into short expressions. When exposed to conflicting ‘stories,’ people get a diverse picture of climate change, a diversity which may, however, also lead to confusion about how to react. Concerning the narrative characters, recent research indicates that a clear hero role has a large persuasive impact. More experiments testing how people interpret various narratives should be undertaken in an interdisciplinary perspective, combining social science, and linguistic approaches. WIREs Clim Change 2017, 8:e429. doi: 10.1002/wcc.429
Young people represent the future, but little is known about their attitudes towards climate change, one of the most serious issues facing the world today. The purpose of the present study is to contribute with improved and new knowledge of young Norwegians’ understanding of and attitudes towards this issue, with a special focus on perspectives of the future. Of particular interest is the influence of divergent framings of the climate question in Norway, due to conflicting interests between the petroleum industry and climate concern. The young people's voices are elicited through two different surveys undertaken during the fall of 2013, one national (Norwegian Citizen Panel) and one local (School survey conducted among high-school students). The study generated both quantitative and qualitative findings, stemming from closed-ended as well as open-ended questions. The data were handled through a mixed methods approach, combining quantitative and qualitative analyses. The results show that the voices tend to be oriented towards the opinion that Norway has a responsibility to help poor countries as well as a duty to prevent climate change and that the country should reduce its oil production. We further observe that young Norwegians have an optimistic view of the future, based on a pronounced belief in technology and science.
Citizens’ opinions are crucial for action on climate change, but are, owing to the complexity of the issue, diverse and potentially unformed1. We contribute to the understanding of public views on climate change and to knowledge needed by decision-makers by using a new approach to analyse answers to the open survey question ‘what comes to mind when you hear the words ‘climate change’?’. We apply automated text analysis, specifically structural topic modelling2, which induces distinct topics based on the relative frequencies of the words used in 2,115 responses. From these data, originating from the new, nationally representative Norwegian Citizen Panel, four distinct topics emerge: Weather/Ice, Future/Impact, Money/Consumption and Attribution. We find that Norwegians emphasize societal aspects of climate change more than do respondents in previous US and UK studies3, 4, 5, 6. Furthermore, variables that explain variation in closed questions, such as gender and education, yield different and surprising results when employed to explain variation in what respondents emphasize. Finally, the sharp distinction between scepticism and acceptance of conventional climate science, often seen in previous studies, blurs in many textual responses as scepticism frequently turns into ambivalence.