Wikipedia:WikiProject Climate change/Style guide

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This page is a style guide for content related to Climate Change, developed by the editors of Wikipedia:WikiProject Climate change. These are recommendations, to help develop greater consistency across climate related content. If you would like to contribute to the style guide or want to ask a question, consider communicating on the WikiProject talk page

Writing about climate changeEdit


In general we recommend talking about climate change in the general structure of climate change knowledge outlined by the IPCC reports:

This means that most articles which deal with climate change topics should try to address these 4 broad swaths of information in their content and structure.


Communications experts have developed a number of guidelines for effective climate communication tactics (tactics which reach the broadest number of people, and help them identify ways to participate in climate action). Generally, these guidelines recommend that climate communicators (that includes Wikipedia editors), focus on doing several things (check out this article for further reading):

  • Being clear about the science, and using scientific evidence when talking about the causes and effects of climate change. Try to focus on communicating this information with clear, factual information, language that demystifies scientific concepts for a general audience, and clear attribution of opinions or interpretations.
  • Focusing on connecting climate change with people's lives and local contexts -- though the core articles describe by the WikiProject as Top importance are important for representing the scientific consensus on the issues, its also really important to write climate change into other aspects of peoples lives from improving the Category:Climate change by country and region articles, to the actual articles about the locations, to highlighting climate change in other parts of their lives.
  • Connecting with emotionally compelling and timely information-- such as breaking news, direct impacts on humans of climate change, talking about the individual activists, politicians or scientists involved in addressing climate change, etc.
  • Focusing on solutions -- climate change communications studies has found that a lot of individuals resist addressing climate change because of a number of both cognitive and social barriers. Solution oriented communication helps overcome those barriers. Identifying how others are taking action to address the issues, recommendations by scientists for addressing the challenges, or policy made by governments can help individuals connect what they are reading with actions that others are taking.

If you are looking for tactics for contributing to Wikipedia that both follow Wikipedia's commitment to Verifiability and Neutral Point of View we recommend checking out our recommended task for editing about climate change.

Using {{Excerpt}}Edit

Many of the articles related to Climate Change are interconnected subtopics that are often highlighted in multiple parts of Wikipedia. We generally recommend using the template {{Excerpt}} to reduce the redundancy of updating information in these multiple locations. {{Excerpt}} transcludes the lead section or any section of choosing on another article -- thus if that section is updated in the original article, it will be automatically updated in the article that it used in. Please only excerpt sections or leads, not individual paragraphs. For some examples, see the tracking category: Category:Articles with excerpts.

Article structureEdit

Articles about geographic areasEdit

Proposed outline for articles on climate change in specific geographies, including articles for climate change in countries or sub-national states (for example articles in Category:Climate change in the United States by state, Category:Climate change by country). Not all sections will be relevant to every geography; adapt as needed. Not all bullets will have information available for all geographies.

Top-level outline with basic sectionsEdit

  • Lede
the lede section should summarize the topic and each of the following sections
  • Emissions
details on how the geographic area contributes to climate change, including energy consumption, transportation, industry and fossil fuel production
  • Environmental impacts
impact of climate change on the natural environment of the geography, including observed/projected temperature changes, sea level rise, impact on water resources, weather and extreme weather, and ecosystems (coast, forest, animals, etc)
  • Economic and social impacts
impact of climate change on people in the geography, including economic impacts on various industries including agriculture, fisheries and tourism; impact on cities and urban environments in the geography; socioeconomic impacts including migration; health impacts
  • Responses
mitigation efforts, including governmental efforts, law and policy; municipal responses in the geography; industry and private sector responses; and public response, including citizen action.
  • See also
Include "Energy in..." and "Environment in..." articles if they exist
  • Further reading
National climate change assessments or plans, books if applicable
  • References

Detailed outlineEdit

With details of where many specific topics would go in this structure:

Extended content
  • Lede
  • Emissions
    • Energy consumption
    • Transportation
    • Industry
    • Fossil fuel production
  • Environmental impacts
    • Temperature and climate changes
      • Observed
      • Projected
    • Sea level rise (if applicable)
    • Water resources
    • Extreme weather
      • Fire
      • Heat waves
      • Droughts
    • Ecosystems (coast, forests)
  • Economic and social impacts
    • Economic impacts
      • Food, Agriculture and fisheries
      • Tourism/recreation (e.g. winter sports, beaches)
      • Employment/Job market (e.g. Power industry, construction, etc)
      • Insurance industry
    • Built environment
      • Cities and urban environments
      • Infrastructure
      • Real estate (Climate gentrification)
    • Social changes
      • Migration and displacement
      • Tribal impacts
    • Health
      • Heat waves
      • Disease transmission
      • Air pollution/smog
  • Responses
    • Policy response
      • Specific legislative action
      • Politics
      • Specific programs
    • International participation/Regional networks
      • Alliances / groups
      • Participation in treaty bodies
    • Sub-regional responses
      • Tribal response
      • Municipal reponses
    • Public responses
      • Organize groups
      • Protest /grassroots
      • Public opinion surveys
      • Lawsuits
    • Economic action (industry response)
      • Green jobs
      • Sustainable energy industry
      • Technical innovation/Research
      • Investment
  • See also
  • Further reading
  • References


This guide is a list of sources recommended by WikiProject Climate, you can edit this list here.

Like anywhere on Wikipedia, all edits must be WP:Verifiable and based on WP:Reliable sources (unless a specific exception applies). New editors are advised to study the difference between primary, secondary and tertiary sources. In general we prefer secondary and tertiary sources.

The prior paragraph is from Wikipedia policy. Some science editors have assembled an opinion essay called "Identifying reliable sources (science)", that we ask you to follow as well.

When it comes to sources themselves, many quality ones are applicable to WikiProject Climate change. Here are just a few -

High-quality secondary sourcesEdit

  • These reports are some of the best available about solutions to limit climate change, not just about the causes and effects of warming. A particularly useful one is the Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5 ┬║C (2018). The more of this report that we can get into Wikipedia, the better.
  • There are a large number of (paywalled) encyclopedias published, including Oxford Research Encyclopedias - Climate science (which has a browsable table of contents, perhaps good for finding new articles to work on)
  • * National Climate Assessment - U.S. Global Change Research Program (2018). Impacts, Risks, and Adaptation in the United States: Fourth National Climate Assessment, Volume II (Report). Washington, DC. doi:10.7930/NCA4.2018. -- recommended by climate experts at the NAS editathon
  • Climate Links - a USAID funded research database focused on climate change in different countries

Paywalled research sourcesEdit

There is a vast research literature on climate change in books and articles. Look for encyclopedias and handbooks for secondary literature. (Particularly for US Libraries: search for 'libguides' and 'climate change' to find library guides on the topic.)

Use with cautionEdit

  • Materials from industry coalitions such as International Renewable Energy Agency or International Geothermal Association. The first concern is whether these materials are really "RS" (WP:Reliable sources). Often they will fall under the problematic WP:Self-published limitations. Such sources can still be used when we are reporting what these groups say, but this usually requires inline attribution e.g., "According to Jane, Jack also ran up the hill. There may be exceptions so each case is weighed on its own merit. Often there will be reliable media reports to cite instead.
  • On the flip side, also be cautious with from environmental advocacy groups and political parties. The same cautions about self-published sources and inline attribution apply.
  • Also use caution with news reports of the latest science paper. You may be tempted to rush to your keyboard as they make headlines, but there are at least three problems with this approach. First, it is difficult for lay Wikipedia editors to correctly assess the nuance in a new professional science paper. Second, it takes awhile for the rest of the science community to absorb the reported findings. Third, the practice tends to convert our articles from articles to a disjointed science news feed. Instead of firing away as papers come off the presses, it is usually better to seek out WP:SECONDARY sources, such as systematic reviews (aka "literature reviews") or perhaps WP:TERTIARY sources such as textbooks. See the opinion essay Wikipedia:Identifying reliable sources (science) for further help identifying the best sources.