Climatic Change

, Volume 142, Issue 1–2, pp 287–300 | Cite as

The earth is our home: systemic metaphors to redefine our relationship with nature

  • Paul H. ThibodeauEmail author
  • Cynthia McPherson Frantz
  • Matias Berretta


Climate change is one of the most compelling challenges for science communication today. Societal reforms are necessary to reduce the risks posed by a changing climate, yet many people fail to recognize climate change as a serious issue. Unfortunately, the accumulation of scientific data, in itself, has failed to compel the general public on the urgent need for pro-environmental policy action. We argue that certain metaphors for the human-environment relationship can lead people to adopt a more nuanced and responsible conception of their place in the natural world. In two studies, we tested properties of multiple metaphors with the general public (study 1) and experts on climate change (study 2). The metaphor “the earth is our home” resonated with climate experts as well as diverse subpopulations of the general public, including conservatives and climate-change deniers.


Climate Change Positive Affect Metaphor Natural World System Thinking 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



The research for this article was financially supported by the National Science Foundation (grant no. 1534479; assessing the effect of systems thinking on decision-making).

Compliance with ethical standards

Competing interests

The authors declare that they have no competing financial interests.

Supplementary material

10584_2017_1926_MOESM1_ESM.docx (1.4 mb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 1398 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Paul H. Thibodeau
    • 1
    Email author
  • Cynthia McPherson Frantz
    • 1
  • Matias Berretta
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyOberlin CollegeOberlinUSA

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