• Contents:
  • Introduction
  • 1. Know Your Audience
  • 2. Get Your Audience's Attention
  • 3. Translate Scientific Data Into Concrete Experience
  • 4. Beware the Overuse of Emotional Appeals
  • 5. Address Scientific and Climate Uncertainties
  • 6. Tap Into Social Identities and Affiliations
  • 7. Encourage Group Participation
  • 8. Make Behavior Change Easier
  • Conclusion
  • The Principles of Climate Change Communication In Brief
  • Download the Guide as a PDF
  • Request a Paper Copy

About CRED

CRED is an interdisciplinary center that studies individual and group decision making under climate uncertainty and decision making in the face of environmental risk. CRED’s objectives address the human responses to climate change and climate variability as well as improved communication and increased use of scientific information on climate variability and change. Located at Columbia University, CRED is affiliated with The Earth Institute and the Institute for Social and Economic Research and Policy (ISERP).

CRED was established under the National Science Foundation Program Decision Making Under Uncertainty (DMUU). Major funding is provided under the cooperative agreement NSF SES-0345840.

CRED Guide



Debika Shome and Sabine Marx

With contributions from the following members of CRED

Kirstin Appelt, Poonam Arora, Roberta Balstad, Kenny Broad, Andrew Freedman, Michel Handgraaf, David Hardisty, David Krantz, Anthony Leiserowitz, Massimo LoBuglio, Jenn Logg, Anna Mazhirov, Kerry Milch, Nancy Nawi, Nicole Peterson, Adrian Soghoian, Elke Weber


Mary-Elena Carr, Kelly Hayes-Raitt, Betsy Ness-Edelstein, Clare Oh, Gavin Schmidt, Renzo Taddei, Bud Ward


Andria Cimino, Leapfrog Communications


Ian Webster, Hazard County Illustration

Graphic Designer

Erich Nagler, Design Means

Special Thanks

The Earth Institute, Columbia Climate Center, The Harmony Institute, the Leonard and Jayne Abess Center for Ecosystem Science and Policy, Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, University of Miami, and National Geographic Society.

This guide was made possible by the generous support of

The Charles Evans Hughes Memorial Foundation

National Science Foundation SES-0345840

CRED Partners

National Science Foundation
Charles Evans Hughes Memorial Foundation

Columbia University
Columbia Climate Center

Harmony Institute
The Earth Institute

Abess Center
Rosenstiel School


Center for Research on Environmental Decisions. (2009). The Psychology of Climate Change Communication: A Guide for Scientists, Journalists, Educators, Political Aides, and the Interested Public. New York.


All content copyright © October 2009 by The Trustees of Columbia University in the City of New York

The Psychology of Climate Change Communication was created by the Center for Research on Environmental Decisions (CRED) at Columbia University. This document was made possible through the generous support of the Charles Evans Hughes Memorial Foundation and the National Science Foundation cooperative agreement SES-0345840. This material is protected by copyright. You may download and print one copy for your own reference or research purposes. The material may be distributed to other not-for-profit educational institutions for their own use, as long as this notice is kept intact and attached to the material. Any other distribution or use is expressly prohibited without prior written consent of Columbia University.