The Troubled Rhetoric and Communication of Climate Change: The argumentative situation, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

The Troubled Rhetoric and Communication of Climate Change

The argumentative situation, 1st Edition

By Philip Eubanks


144 pages | 1 B/W Illus.

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Despite an overwhelming scientific consensus, climate change remains one of the most controversial issues of our time. Focusing on the rhetoric that surrounds the issue of climate change, this groundbreaking book analyses why the debate continues to rage and examines how we should argue when winning the argument really matters.

Going beyond routine condemnations of the wildest statements made by religious fundamentalists or spokespeople for fossil fuel interests, the book explains the mutually exacerbating problems that permit many of us greet catastrophic predictions with an equivocal shrug. It argues that the argumentative situation around climate change makes a certain kind of skepticism – "fair-minded skepticism" – not only possible but likely. The book also strikes a hopeful note, reminding us that people do change their minds in response to effective argumentation that appeals to deeply shared values.

Offering new insight into an ongoing academic discussion about the nature of argument and how it can be undertaken more effectively and ethically, as well as a new perspective on the rhetoric of science and technology, this book will be a valuable resource to students and scholars of climate change, environmental humanities, rhetoric, environmental communication, sociology and science and technology studies.


"In this highly readable but expert account of the rhetoric of climate change, Philip Eubanks offers a clear-eyed view of the difficulties that beset public argument in today’s political climate. Faced with ideological intransigence, pervasive bias, misinformation, and epidemic mistrust, anyone who enters the debate, on any side, entertains poor prospects for success. And yet, Professor Eubanks gives us hope that the evidence will prevail, that rational argument remains possible, and that humanity will find the way to a future free from apocalyptic decline. This is a book that everyone should read."– M. Jimmie Killingsworth, Texas A & M University, USA.

"We all know about the ‘climate debate’, but do we understand it? This lucidly written book guides its readers through the tangle of rhetorical arguments that paralyze this debate and opens up a space for mutual understanding. It should be read by everybody interested in, or exasperated by, this global argument." – Brigitte Nerlich, The University of Nottingham, United Kingdom

"Philip Eubanks explains the debate about climate change in ways that it's never been explained before. Thoughtfully written, breathtakingly clear, and well-researched, the book actually models for us (and for our students) the appropriate forms of rhetorical debate Eubanks advocates. He gives us a sense of how we ought to be arguing about climate change." – Deborah H. Holdstein, Columbia College Chicago, USA.

"This book is incredibly engaging and readable, in part because of Eubanks’s skillful organization, but also in part because of his approachable and self-aware style. His tone suggests a deep familiarity with his material and a desire to interest a wide audience. (…) Taken together, the book’s ten chapters work toward building a portrait of climate change communication complex enough to match the "complexity, contingency, and uncertainty" of climate change itself (135)." - Rhetoric Review

Table of Contents

Introduction 1. What If We’re Wrong About What’s Wrong with Argument? 2. The Trouble with Audience 3. I Do Believe in Science, I Do Believe in Science 4. Who Do You Doubt? 5. Reasoning Backwards Is Reasoning Forwards 6. Team Camo, Team Khaki 7. Team Camo and Team Khaki on Climate Change 8. The Attention Imperative 9. Chasing Ice, Chasing Eyes 10. How Should We Argue? Epilogue

About the Author

Philip Eubanks is Professor of English at Northern Illinois University, USA.

About the Series

Routledge Studies in Environmental Communication and Media

Routledge Studies in Environmental Communication and Media offers a range of progressive and thought-provoking investigations and overviews of contemporary topics in environmental communication and media. Providing cutting edge original research and analysis, the series covers key issues from climate change to natural resources, examining film, advertising, marketing, journalism, storytelling and new media forms.

This international and academically rigorous book series offers vital insights to all those engaged with the process of creating and interpreting media messages about environmental topics, whether they be students, scholars, policy makers or practitioners. These interdisciplinary books provide an invaluable resource for discussion in advanced undergraduate and postgraduate courses in environmental communication and media studies, as well as in cultural studies, marketing, anthropology, sociology, philosophy and politics.

Please contact the Editor, Annabelle Harris ( to submit proposals.

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
BUSINESS & ECONOMICS / Development / Sustainable Development
POLITICAL SCIENCE / Public Policy / Environmental Policy