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16. Tone

...Speaking of respect, getting climate content just right is now more important than ever. I believe that smart, thoughtful climate narratives emerge and thrive when you get the tone right.

And what is tone?

The Oxford dictionary describes ‘tone’ as 'the general character or attitude of a place, piece of writing, situation, etc.'

My personal climate translation/ interpretation of ‘tone’ doesn’t stray very far from that.

As such, I designed the general character or attitude of The Climate Change Project to be one of honesty.

Personally, I have a tendency to tune out climate discourses laden with normative assertions, hyperbole, and digitised Disney endings.

Bad tone contributes to degrees of misinformation, and that has an accumulative effect.

Without meaning to we can see how compromised content leads to misinformation, short-sighted thinking and contributes to narratives that overreach.

The ‘how tech will save the planet’ category is a particularly acute and frivolous example of that brand of overreach.

‘Tone’ for us is about reading the audience and understanding the moment we have been cornered into. It’s also about restraint. It’s not just about who you interview but how you interview them.

Climate narratives will always be reductive and incite one-dimensional thinking if we don’t get the tone right.

There is a vast expanse between stubborn optimism and existential despair. We occupy the centre ground between the two - realism.

And because that's my default emotional state, it's the publication’s default editorial position and it informs our overall tone.

Climate realism is entirely new cultural terrain. In order to cover it, we will need to develop an emotional education and a more literal, scientific one. More on that later…


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