Published: Aug. 28, 2019

Climate change is a central issue in the 2020 Democratic primary, but the conversation around the issue has become “stuck” in recent years, says CU Boulder researcher Max Boykoff. One fresh approach? Use humor and other tactics to speak to voters in a different way.


“There is an urgent need to diversify our communications about climate change to effectively confront climate challenges,” said Boykoff, director of the Center for Science and Technology Policy Research and author of the new book Creative (Climate) Communications: Productive Pathways for Science, Policy and Society. “Humans intuitively and emotionally relate to humor, the arts and other tactile appeals. We can and should use these tools to reach people where they are, beyond just policy briefs and stump speeches.”

Boykoff, a fellow in the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES), tracks international media coverage of climate change through the Media and Climate Change Observatory and has helped develop innovative new curricula including the Inside the Greenhouse project, which helps students explore new ways to effectively communicate, learn about and engage with climate change.

He is available to discuss current media coverage around climate change, how to improve the discussion in the public arena and why a variety of different approaches for different audiences is useful.

CNN will host a town hall debate on Wednesday, Sept. 4, featuring 10 Democratic candidates for president. MSNBC will co-host a two-night climate forum at Georgetown University on Sept. 19-20, with all declared candidates invited to attend.

Trent Knoss, CU Boulder media relations