Climate communication for biologists: When a picture can tell a thousand words

by Stephan Lewandowsky, Lorraine Whitmarsh

Pictures often tell a story better than the proverbial 1,000 words. However, in connection with climate change, many pictures can be highly misleading, for example, when a snowball is used to ridicule the notion of global warming or when a picture of a dead crop is supposed to alert people to climate change. We differentiate between such inappropriate pictures and those that can be used legitimately because they capture long-term trends. For example, photos of a glacier’s retreat are legitimate indicators of the long-term mass balance loss that is observed for the vast majority of glaciers around the world.

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