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WIREs Clim Change
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Understanding the rhetoric of climate science debates

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Scientists and policymakers alike frequently call for the elimination of rhetoric from discussions of climate science. These calls betray some fundamental misunderstandings about the 2500‐year‐old art of rhetoric. Once these are dispelled, it becomes apparent that what we need for effective climate‐science debate is not less rhetoric but more: that is, more sensitivity to the political frame within which every debate takes place and how that frame shapes deliberation; more awareness of the unstated values and assumptions supporting statements made on all sides; more ways to link climate to stakeholders’ daily lives, values, and decisions. This article briefly introduces readers to the history and theory of rhetoric for two purposes: (1) explaining the various and sometimes contradictory ways in which this ancient discipline shapes the communication of climate science and (2) providing readers with a few simple but powerful tools for coping with climate debates. WIREs Clim Change 2017, 8:e452. doi: 10.1002/wcc.452 This article is categorized under: Social Status of Climate Change Knowledge > Knowledge and Practice

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