Narrative: Sea Level Rise
Key frame elements embedded in this narrative
Narrative: Sea Level Rise
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 Protection, which focuses on the idea that we have a duty to keep the ecosystems we depend on safe from harm.
  • To fill in the public’s understanding about why sea levels are rising, the narrative includes two tested ways of talking about anthropogenic climate change. The metaphor Heat–Trapping Blanket and the distinction between Regular vs. Rampant CO2 offer two clear, concise, and “sticky” explanations of how society’s use of fossil fuels are disrupting the climate system.
  • To help the public connect the causes of sea level rise to its consequences, this narrative relies on a series of causal links arranged into a clear Explanatory Chain: fossil fuels -> thermal expansion -> rising seas -> damaged wetlands -> loss of habitat

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

  • Individual Actions. The American public is already exposed to a steady stream of messages about individual actions they can take in their daily lives. The Visualizing Change narratives focus on information encountered less frequently: civic and collective responses.
  • “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 forced migrations around the world!” Instead, the narrative maintains a neutral, informative tone, which is more inviting to the public and allows for a “learning mindset.” 
Table of Contents