Climate Change and the Stories We Tell: The Making of a Collaborative Digital Archive in Rural Maine (Imagining America)

Imagining America: Climate Change and the Stories We Tell: The Making of a Collaborative Digital Archive in Rural Maine. “Climate change is one of the most important issues facing humanity. But the very nature of this phenomenon—the physical and temporal scale at which it plays out, the specificity of the scientific language often used to describe it, and the complex set of interests already shaping this discourse—make it a difficult phenomenon to discuss. Scientific papers about climate change tend to be jargon-heavy and largely incomprehensible to the general public. Meanwhile, apocalyptic narratives like those popularized in film and fiction often foster fear, despondency, and withdrawal from the civic sphere (Swyngedouw 2010). Journalistic attempts to cover the topic in a newsworthy manner often end up sounding repetitive, as each month leads to the shattering of yet another climate-related record. Finally, climate change is a deeply polarizing issue, with ‘believers’ and ‘nonbelievers’ often splitting along party lines (Stoknes 2015). The question remains: How can we communicate ongoing environmental transformations in a manner that is engaging and factually accurate, urgent and memorable, pointed and capable of speaking to people of varied political persuasions?”

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