New Center Aims to Turn Climate Change Awareness into Action

Posted: September 27, 2007 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Tara Laskowski

Global warming has been a top news story for many months. The color green now seems to be everyone’s favorite color. Most people are aware of the global warming crisis — but how many are actually doing anything about it?

Ed Maibach
Edward Maibach

Though the average citizen is concerned about climate change, they often do little to actively change their lifestyle. Translating this worry into action is what Edward Maibach is hoping to accomplish through Mason’s new Center of Excellence in Climate Change Communication. By founding the nation’s first research center devoted exclusively to addressing the communication challenges of climate change, Maibach and his team are researching how to shift global thinking to global action.

“To avert the climate crisis, major behavior changes are needed from virtually everyone — a level of behavior change never before attempted, except possibly when personal or national survival was at imminent stake, such as during the last World War,” says Maibach.

The center’s efforts are focused on four strategic areas:

1. Engaging a broad range of research experts and community leaders to identify the most pressing communication, marketing and behavior change research questions

2. Conducting communication, marketing and behavior change research to learn how best to educate, motivate and assist people and businesses in reducing their — and our nation’s — “carbon footprint”

3. Providing technical assistance to a broad range of organizations to improve their climate change education, communication, advocacy and behavior change programs

4. Encouraging the development of similar initiatives abroad, especially in nations where effective societal responses are urgently needed to avert the climate crisis (such as China, India, Brazil and Russia)

Mason faculty members from across all different disciplines are also involved in the center’s work.

Maibach has more than 10 years experience as a senior marketing and communication professional in government and industry, most recently as associate director of the National Cancer Institute.

His edited book, “Designing Health Messages: Approaches from Communication Theory and Public Health Practice” is widely used by academics and practitioners. He is one of former Vice President Al Gore’s “1,000 Voices” for climate change prevention.

For more information about the center, visit the web site at

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