AMBIO

, Volume 43, Issue 5, pp 592–599

Narratives Can Motivate Environmental Action: The Whiskey Creek Ocean Acidification Story

Perspective

Abstract

Even when environmental data quantify the risks and benefits of delayed responses to rapid anthropogenic change, institutions rarely respond promptly. We propose that narratives complementing environmental datasets can motivate responsive environmental policy. To explore this idea, we relate a case study in which a narrative of economic loss due to regionally rapid ocean acidification—an anthropogenic change—helped connect knowledge with action. We pose three hypotheses to explain why narratives might be particularly effective in linking science to environmental policy, drawing from the literature of economics, environmental policy, and cognitive psychology. It seems that yet-untold narratives may hold similar potential for strengthening the feedback between environmental data and policy and motivating regional responses to other environmental problems.

Keywords

Environmental decision-making Social–ecological systems Human dimensions Narratives Marine policy 

References

  1. Barton, A., B. Hales, G.G. Waldbusser, C. Langdon, and R.A. Feely. 2012. The Pacific oyster, Crassostrea gigas, shows negative correlation to naturally elevated carbon dioxide levels: Implications for near-term ocean acidification effects. Limnology and Oceanography 57: 698–710.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Bonfils, D. 2010. Ocean acidification hits northwest oyster farms. Good Morning America, ABC News, New York, April 22.Google Scholar
  3. Branch, T.A., B.M. DeJoseph, L.J. Ray, and C.A. Wagner. 2013. Impacts of ocean acidification on marine seafood. Trends in Ecology & Evolution 28: 178–186.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Clark, W.C., T.P. Tomich, M. van Noordwijk, D. Guston, D. Catacutan, N.M. Dickson, and E. McNie. 2011. Boundary work for sustainable development: Natural resource management at the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR). Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. doi:10.1073/pnas.0900231108.
  5. Clark, M.C., and M. Rossiter. 2008. Narrative learning in adulthood. New directions for adult and continuing education 119: 61–70.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Clark, W.C., R.B. Mitchell, and D.W. Cash. 2006. Evaluating the influence of global environmental assessments. In Global environmental assessments: Information and influence, ed. R.B. Mitchell, W.C. Clark, D.W. Cash, and N.M. Dickson. Cambridge: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  7. Dahlstrom, M.F., and S.S. Ho. 2012. Ethical considerations of using narrative to communicate science. Science Communication 34: 592–617.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Dal Cin, S., M.P. Zanna, and G.T. Fong. 2004. Narrative persuasion and overcoming resistance. In Resistance and persuasion, ed. E.S. Knowles, and J.A. Linn, 175–191. Mahwah: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.Google Scholar
  9. Dewey, B., and B. Warren, 2011. A report from the front lines: The oyster seed crisis. Conference Paper, Seafood Summit, Vancouver.Google Scholar
  10. Doney, S.C. 2010. The growing human footprint on coastal and open-ocean biogeochemistry. Science 328: 1512–1516.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Fabry, V.J., J.B. McClintock, J.T. Mathis, and J.M. Grebmeier. 2009. Ocean acidification at high latitudes: The bellweather. Oceanography 22: 160.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Fairhall, A. 1973. Accumulation of fossil CO2 in the atmosphere and the sea. Nature 245: 273–274.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Fairhall, A.W., and J.L. Erickson. 1975. Future impact of fossil CO2 on the sea. Nature 254: 273–274.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Feely, R.A., C.L. Sabine, J.M. Hernandez-Ayon, D. Ianson, and B. Hales. 2008. Evidence for upwelling of corrosive “acidified” water onto the continental shelf. Science 320: 1490–1492.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Flato, I. 2013. With climate change, no happy clams. Talk of the Nation, NPR, Washington, DC, June 14.Google Scholar
  16. Frederick, S., G. Loewenstein, and T. O’Donoghue. 2002. Time discounting and time preference: A critical review. Journal of Economic Literature 40: 351–401.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Gattuso, J.-P., and L. Hansson. 2011. Ocean acidification. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  18. Graesser, A.C., B. Olde, B. Klettke, M. Green, J. Strange, and T. Brock. 2002. How does the mind construct and represent stories? In Narrative impact: Social and cognitive foundations, ed. M. Green, J. Strange, and T. Brock, 229–262. Hoboken: Taylor & Francis.Google Scholar
  19. Green, M.C., and T.C. Brock. 2002. In the mind’s eye: Transportation-imagery model of narrative persuasion. In Narrative impact: Social and cognitive foundations, ed. M.C. Green, J.J. Strange, and T.C. Brock. Hoboken: Taylor & Francis.Google Scholar
  20. Green, M.A., G.G. Waldbusser, S.L. Reilly, and K. Emerson. 2009. Death by dissolution: Sediment saturation state as a mortality factor for juvenile bivalves. Limnology and Oceanography 54: 1037–1047.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Grossman, E. 2011. Northwest oyster die-offs show ocean acidification has arrived. Yale Environment 360. Retrieved November 21, 2010, from http://e360.yale.edu/feature/northwest_oyster_die-offs_show_ocean_acidification_has_arrived/2466/.
  22. Hoben, A. 1995. Paradigms and politics: The cultural construction of environmental policy in Ethiopia. World Development 23: 1007–1021.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Hönisch, B., A. Ridgwell, D.N. Schmidt, E. Thomas, S.J. Gibbs, A. Sluijs, R. Zeebe, L. Kump, et al. 2012. The geological record of ocean acidification. Science 335: 1058–1063.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Johnson, L.T., and C. Hope. 2012. The social cost of carbon in US regulatory impact analyses: An introduction and critique. Journal of Environmental Studies and Sciences 2: 1–17.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Kaufman, L. 2012. Study links raised carbon dioxide levels to oyster die-offs. Green: A blog about energy and the environment, April 12. http://green.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/04/12/study-links-raised-carbon-dioxide-levels-to-oyster-die-offs/.
  26. Kelly, R.P., M.M. Foley, W.S. Fisher, R.A. Feely, B.S. Halpern, G.G. Waldbusser, and M.R. Caldwell. 2011. Mitigating local causes of ocean acidification with existing laws. Science 332: 1036–1037.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Khatiwala, S., T. Tanhua, S. Mikaloff Fletcher, M. Gerber, S. Doney, H. Graven, N. Gruber, G. McKinley, et al. 2012. Global ocean storage of anthropogenic carbon. Biogeosciences Discussions 9: 8931–8988.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Kroeker, K.J., R.L. Kordas, R.N. Crim, and G.G. Singh. 2010. Meta-analysis reveals negative yet variable effects of ocean acidification on marine organisms. Ecology Letters 13: 1419–1434.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Kroeker, K.J., R.L. Kordas, R. Crim, I.E. Hendriks, L. Ramajo, G.S. Singh, C.M. Duarte, and J.-P. Gattuso. 2013. Impacts of ocean acidification on marine organisms: Quantifying sensitivities and interaction with warming. Global Change Biology 19: 1884–1896.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Laurans, Y., N. Pascal, T. Binet, L. Brander, E. Clua, G. David, D. Rojat, and A. Seidl. 2013. Economic valuation of ecosystem services from coral reefs in the South Pacific: Taking stock of recent experience. Journal of Environmental Management 116: 135–144.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Leonard, G. 2012. Ocean acidification: It’s time to act. National Geographic Newswatch, November 28. http://newswatch.nationalgeographic.com/2012/11/28/ocean-acidification-its-time-to-act/.
  32. Liu, J., T. Dietz, S.R. Carpenter, M. Alberti, C. Folke, E. Moran, A.N. Pell, P. Deadman, et al. 2007. Complexity of coupled human and natural systems. Science 317: 1513–1516.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Lorenzoni, I., S. Nicholson-Cole, and L. Whitmarsh. 2007. Barriers perceived to engaging with climate change among the UK public and their policy implications. Global Environmental Change 17: 445–459.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Mandler, J.M. 1984. Stories, scripts, and scenes: Aspects of schema theory. Hillsdale: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  35. Maynes, M.J., J.L. Pierce, and B. Laslett. 2008. Telling stories: The use of personal narratives in the social sciences and history. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.Google Scholar
  36. McNie, E.C. 2007. Reconciling the supply of scientific information with user demands: An analysis of the problem and review of the literature. Environmental Science & Policy 10: 17–38.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Millennium Ecosystem Assessment. 2005. Ecosystems and human well-being: Synthesis. Washington, DC: Island Press.Google Scholar
  38. Mitchell, R.B., W.C. Clark, D.W. Cash, and N.M. Dickson. 2006. Global environmental assessments: Information and influence. Cambridge: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  39. Oatley, K., M. Green, J. Strange, and T. Brock. 2002. Emotions and the story worlds of fiction. In Narrative impact: Social and cognitive foundations, ed. M. Green, J. Strange, and T. Brock, 39–69. Hoboken: Taylor & Francis.Google Scholar
  40. Pennington, N., and R. Hastie. 1993. The story model for juror decision making. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  41. Perrings, C. 1991. Reserved rationality and the precautionary principle: Technological change, time and uncertainty in environmental decision making. In Ecological economics: The science and management of sustainability, ed. R. Costanza, 153–166. New York: Columbia University Press.Google Scholar
  42. Pindyck, R.S. 2007. Uncertainty in environmental economics. Review of Environmental Economics and Policy 1: 45–65.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Poortinga, W., L. Steg, and C. Vlek. 2004. Values, environmental concern, and environmental behavior: A study into household energy use. Environment and Behavior 36: 70–93.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Sabine, C.L., R.A. Feely, N. Gruber, R.M. Key, K. Lee, J.L. Bullister, R. Wanninkhof, C. Wong, et al. 2004. The oceanic sink for anthropogenic CO2. Science 305: 367–371.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Salisbury, J., M. Green, C. Hunt, and J. Campbell. 2008. Coastal acidification by rivers: A threat to shellfish? Eos Transactions, American Geophysical Union 89: 513.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Satran, J. 2012. Ocean acidification hurts oyster larvae development at Ore. Hatchery, study confirms. Huffington Post, April 13.Google Scholar
  47. Schank, R.C., and T.R. Berman. 2002. The pervasive role of stories in knowledge and action. In Narrative impact: Social, cognitive foundations, ed. M. Green, J. Strange, and T. Brock, 287–313. Hoboken: Taylor & Francis.Google Scholar
  48. Schleifstein, M. 2013. Ocean Week conference addresses various issues. New Orleans Times-Picayune, June 9.Google Scholar
  49. Spence, A., W. Poortinga, C. Butler, and N.F. Pidgeon. 2011. Perceptions of climate change and willingness to save energy related to flood experience. Nature Climate Change 1: 46–49.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Spence, A., W. Poortinga, and N. Pidgeon. 2012. The psychological distance of climate change. Risk Analysis 32: 957–972.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Stern, P.C. 2002. New environmental theories: Toward a coherent theory of environmentally significant behavior. Journal of Social Issues 56: 407–424.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Tobias, L. 2012. Oregon State research traces oyster larvae die-off to increasing ocean acidity. The Oregonian, April 12.Google Scholar
  53. Vitousek, P.M., H.A. Mooney, J. Lubchenco, and J.M. Melillo. 1997. Human domination of Earth’s ecosystems. Science 277: 494–499.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Waldbusser, G.G., E.P. Voigt, H. Bergschneider, M.A. Green, and R.I. Newell. 2011. Biocalcification in the eastern oyster (Crassostrea virginica) in relation to long-term trends in Chesapeake Bay pH. Estuaries and Coasts 34: 221–231.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Washington State Blue Ribbon Panel on Ocean Acidification. 2012. Ocean acidification: From knowledge to action, Washington State’s Strategic Response, Washington State Department of Ecology Report, Olympia, Washington, Publication No. 12-01-015.Google Scholar
  56. Welch, C. 2009. Oysters in deep trouble: Is Pacific Ocean's chemistry killing sea life? Seattle Times, June 14.Google Scholar
  57. Zimen, K.E., and F.K. Altenhein. 1973. The future burden of industrial CO2 on the atmosphere and the oceans. Naturwissenschaften 60: 198–199.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ryan P. Kelly
    • 1
    • 2
  • Sarah R. Cooley
    • 3
  • Terrie Klinger
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Marine and Environmental AffairsUniversity of WashingtonSeattleUSA
  2. 2.Center for Ocean SolutionsStanfordUSA
  3. 3.Department of Marine Chemistry & GeochemistryWoods Hole Oceanographic InstitutionWoods HoleUSA

Personalised recommendations