Speaking About Environmental Change in a Conservative Place

Authors: Paul Adams*, University of Texas at Austin
Topics: Anthropocene, Communication, United States
Keywords: discourse, language, anti-environmentalism, climate-contrarianism, High Plains, groundwater, climate change
Session Type: Virtual Paper
Day: 4/10/2021
Start / End Time: 4:40 PM / 5:55 PM
Room: Virtual 44
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

Interviews conducted in West Texas and the Texas Panhandle reveal locally attuned ways of framing environmental issues, particularly management of water scarcity and adaptation to climate change. Agricultural stakeholders frame verbal responses to environmental challenges in terms of a place-based practicality and topophilic sense of the common good, while opposing mainstream “liberal” views of environmental conservation and sustainability. Environmental discourses in this deeply conservative region reject ways of framing environmental issues that are commonly adopted by scientists and environmentalists. Nonetheless, they do speak in favor of certain strategies for effectively adapting to environmental change. The study shows that when addressing the public in the US it would help to talk about changes in “weather” rather than the “climate,” to focus on the soil, and to frame conservation in terms of being a good neighbor.

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