Chapter 1 presents an overview of the arguments in this book. It also presents data on the state of the scientific consensus on climate change, and contrasts that with data on the lack of a social consensus on the issue.
Chapter 2 explores the social science of how we make sense of complex scientific information, what we hear when these issues are raised and how to conceptualize the cultural schism before us. It also presents the sources of disagreement over climate change on four discrete elements of distrust — distrust of the messengers, distrust of the process that creates the message, distrust of the message itself and distrust of the solutions that come from the message
Chapter 3 discusses the organized movements that seek to resist changes and the role of both mainstream and new social media in assisting them. Specifically, it outlines the two primary forms of structured resistance that emerge from threatened economic interests and threatened ideological interests.
Chapter 4 explains the social science of how cultures change and offers some suggested tactics and strategies for clarifying the public debate over climate change. It presents four categories of tactics that address the sources of resistance discussed in chapter 3 and mirror the four forms of distrust presented in chapter 2: The messenger is as important as the message, address the process by which the message was created, choose messages that are accessible, and present solutions that represent a commonly desired future.
Chapter 5 presents two examples of historic culture changes that can teach us something about the cultural challenge we face on climate change. The first is the debate over cigarette smoking and cancer, highlighting the difference between a scientific consensus and a social consensus and the process that leads from one to the other. The second is the debate over the abolition of slavery, highlighting the magnitude of the cultural shift we now face and the multiple pathways for achieving it.
Chapter 6 concludes with a discussion of the importance of the full scope of the social change that climate change represents. Climate change is part of a large-scale shift that is taking place in human history. That larger shift is called the Anthropocene, a new geologic epoch in which human activities have a significant impact on the Earth's ecosystems.