Narrative: Ocean Acidification
Key frame elements embedded in this narrative
Narrative: Ocean Acidification
Key frame elements

Frames to advance: 

These frame elements are based on research conducted by the FrameWorks Institute in collaboration with marine scientists and informal science education institutions.

  • To provide a collective orientation to the topic, this narrative opens with an appeal to the Value of Responsible Management, which focuses on the idea that we have a duty to manage natural resources responsibly, in the interests of future generations.
  • To help the public overcome the assumption that CO2 is harmless, the narrative makes use of the tested distinction Regular vs. Rampant CO2 This frame element makes use of alliteration to help create a contrasting pair that communicates a clear distinction between the natural carbon cycle and anthropogenic carbon emissions.
  • To help the public develop the satisfying sense that they grasp the issue, the narrative includes a clear, concise “What Affects What” Explanatory Chain that spells out how society’s use of fossil fuels leads to ocean acidification, which impairs marine life and disrupts ocean ecosystems.
  • The negative effects on marine life are specified using a clear, concrete example that spells out how negative impacts are coming about, not just that they are observable/predicted.
  • A description of how the situation in the ocean may affect life on land—specifying one, or at most two, potential or actual negative impacts (without evoking crisis thinking).
  • To expand public thinking about the kinds of actions that can help address the challenges facing our environment, this narrative ends with concrete examples of civic and collective actions that are needed to address climate change.

Frames to avoid: This interpretation purposefully stays away from these themes

  • Individual-level answers to the question “what can I do?” (e.g., "drive your car less").
  • “Invisible process” framing—mere descriptions or lists of impacts. The narrative focuses instead on teaching the causal mechanisms at play.
  • The phrases “greenhouse gases” or “greenhouse effect” are studiously avoided. The more effective alternatives of Regular vs. Rampant CO2 and Heat–Trapping Blanket are used instead.
  • Crisis tone—“This could lead to massive disruptions in food systems around the world – militaries around the world are planning for the food riots that could happen!” Instead, the narrative maintains a neutral, informative tone, which is more inviting to the public and allows for a “learning mindset.” 
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