1st Edition

Visualizing Climate Change A Guide to Visual Communication of Climate Change and Developing Local Solutions

By Stephen R.J. Sheppard Copyright 2012

    Carbon dioxide and global climate change are largely invisible, and the prevailing imagery of climate change is often remote (such as ice floes melting) or abstract and scientific (charts and global temperature maps). 

    Using dramatic visual imagery such as 3D and 4D visualizations of future landscapes, community mapping, and iconic photographs, this book demonstrates new ways to make carbon and climate change visible where we care the most, in our own backyards and local communities. Extensive color imagery explains how climate change works where we live, and reveals how we often conceal, misinterpret, or overlook the evidence of climate change impacts and our carbon usage that causes them. 

    This guide to using visual media in communicating climate change vividly brings to life both the science and the practical solutions for climate change, such as local renewable energy and flood protection. It introduces powerful new visual tools (from outdoor signs to video-games) for communities, action groups, planners, and other experts to use in engaging the public, building awareness and accelerating action on the world’s greatest crisis.

    Preface.  Foreword.  Part 1: Setting the Scene on Climate Change  1. An Invisible Truth? Perceptions and Misperceptions of Climate Change  2. Limited Vision: Understanding Perceptual Problems with Climate Change  3. A New Climate Change Lens: Principles for Shifting Perceptions of Climate Change  4. Learning to See: Reframing Community Perceptions of Carbon and Climate Change  Part 2: Knowing, Seeing, and Acting on Community Carbon & Climate Change  5. Right Before Our Eyes: Seeing Carbon  6. Hot in My Backyard: Seeing the Impacts of Climate Change  7. Cutting the Carbon: Seeing Mitigation Solutions to Climate Change  8. Being Prepared: Seeing Adaptation Solutions to Climate Change  9. Seeing the Big Picture on Community Carbon and Climate Change  Part 3: Switching Lenses: Changing Minds with Visual Learning Tools  10. Landscape Messaging: Making Climate Change More Visible In the Community  11. Visual Media: Knowing Climate Change When You See it in Pictures  12. The Modern Crystal Ball: Visualizing the Future with Climate Change  13. Local Climate Change Visioning: Enhanced Processes for Planning Community Futures  Part 4: With New Eyes to See: What the Future Looks Like With Climate Change  14. Realizing Future Community Visions: Getting to Low-carbon, Attractive, Resilient Communities  Appendix: Code of Ethics for Landscape Visualization.  List of Figures and Figure Credits.  References.  Index.


    Stephen R.J. Sheppard is Professor in Landscape Architecture and Forest Resources Management at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, and Director of the Collaborative for Advanced Landscape Planning (CALP). He is an internationally recognized expert in visualization, and has over 30 years’ experience in research and practice in landscape planning, public involvement, environmental perception, and, since 2003, in planning for climate change. He is a Fellow at the Institute for Sustainability Solutions Research, University of Plymouth, UK, and Adjunct Professor at the Nanjing Forestry University, China.

    "One cannot emphasize enough the magnificent and refreshing part about Visualizing Climate Change is that Sheppard, unlike other climate change advocates, doesn’t focus on the destruction. Instead, he speaks to our inevitable adaptation, and what this could mean for the world at large." – Jeremy Senko, Spacing

    "Psychologist Joseph C. Pearce once said, "Seeing within changes one's outer vision." Could the reverse be true as well? If we saw without, created tangible visions of what cannot yet be seen, might we change deep within? This book - based on solid science and plenty of practical experience - starts from this affirmative premise: Yes, we visual animals do change our minds and hearts when we see for ourselves what is or could be. Nowhere is it more important to use the power of visioning and visualization than in the context of climate change. This book shows why this is so, and how it can be done effectively and ethically. We must learn from Stephen Sheppard how to use the power of visualization, and then harness the power of seeing, to facilitate the necessary changes toward a responsible, life-affirming, and sustainable future" – Susanne C. Moser, Consultant and Researcher, University of California at Santa Cruz and Co-Author of "Creating a Climate for Change"

    "It's of course hard to picture climate change, because carbon dioxide is invisible - if it were brown, we would have stopped producing it long ago. Here, in a sense, are dozens of way to make it brown - to allow people to see the most important thing happening on our planet" – Bill McKibben, Author "Earth: Making a Life on a Tough New Planet" 

    "For most people, climate change remains an abstract problem, something that isn't tangible or that relates to their life. "Visualizing Climate Change" shows how imaginative imagery can help us to understand the problem, but can also allow us to bring solutions to life, to imagine a world that has successfully tackled this challenge. Its insights are vital" – Rob Hopkins, Founder of Transition Network and Author of "The Transition Companion"

    "This book is excellent. I've read many books about Climate Change and it's something I'm quite passionate about. I am very interested in how to communicate effectively about the issue, whether it be in my classroom or just chatting with friends. That's why I feel the book is so important. I absolutely think the book would be suitable for teachers and senior high school students." - Mike Richardson, Science Teacher, West Vancouver Secondary School

    "Stephen Sheppard’s Visualising Climate Change: A Guide to Visual Communication of Climate Change and Developing Local Solutions is a comprehensive effort to generate a societal response to top-down inaction on changing climate ... The book is a solid effort at addressing the gap between scientific and local knowledge of climate change. Professor Sheppard deserves great credit for creating a tangible cornerstone for developing local knowledge and action that is comprehensive, thoughtful, thought-provoking and hopeful. The book is particularly useful to science communicators, policy implementers and climate activists."Scott N. Lieske, Australasian Journal of Environmental Management

    "Sheppard’s more comprehensive approach to visualizing climate change in all its parts — causes, impacts, mitigation, and adaptation — offers an effective way to recognize the climate elephant in the room." Michael Svoboda, Assistant Professor of Writing, The George Washington University, in The Yale Forum on Climate Change & the Media