The earth is our home: systemic metaphors to redefine our relationship with nature

Paul Thibodeau, Oberlin College
Cynthia M. Frantz, Oberlin College
Matias Berretta


Climate change is one of the most compelling challenges for science communication today. Societal reforms are necessary to reduce the risks posed by a changing climate, yet many people fail to recognize climate change as a serious issue. Unfortunately, the accumulation of scientific data, in itself, has failed to compel the general public on the urgent need for pro-environmental policy action. We argue that certain metaphors for the human-environment relationship can lead people to adopt a more nuanced and responsible conception of their place in the natural world. In two studies, we tested properties of multiple metaphors with the general public (study 1) and experts on climate change (study 2). The metaphor “the earth is our home” resonated with climate experts as well as diverse subpopulations of the general public, including conservatives and climate-change deniers.