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Environmental Communication

Robert J. Griffin and Sharon Dunwoody

Subject Communication Studies » Environmental Communication

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405131995.2008.x


“Environmental communication” refers to communication about the natural environment and ecosystem, commonly focusing on the relationships that human beings and their institutions have with the nonhuman natural environment. Much of this communication, historically, has been generated by concern about various environmental problems and issues (global warming, energy, smog, extinction of species, land uses, population growth, water quality, to name but a handful). Some messages, such as Rachel Carson's popular and controversial Silent spring in the early 1960s, which revealed the deleterious side-effects of pesticides, have been credited with spurring public concern and major policy changes. However, there has also been a prevalent thread in literature and storytelling in many cultures that urges people, often through descriptive imagery, to appreciate beauty and harmony in nature (or, in some cases, to fear nature). Sometimes, of course, nature description has also been a vehicle for teaching social and ethical values and ecological principles and for alerting people to environmental issues (e.g., Henry David Thoreau's Walden and Aldo Leopold's A sand county almanac ). Environmental communication can take many forms and can occur through a diverse set of communication channels. Thus, communication scholars of various stripes might readily find environmental communication applicable ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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