More nominees, more total votes cast, and lots more campaigning by those nominated … It all adds up to a big increase in interest and ‘buzz’ surrounding George Mason University’s ‘Communicators of the Year’ award.

Science historian and book author Naomi Oreskes of the University of California, San Diego, and the two-year-old nonprofit Alliance for Climate Education, which focuses on high schoolers, are winners of the George Mason University Center for Climate Change Communication’s 2011 Climate Change Communicators of the Year award.

“Excellence deserves acknowledgment,” the “4C” organization headed by Edward Maibach said in announcing the winners. “Every year since 2009 we have conducted an open nomination and democratic voting process to select one person, and one organization, as Climate Change Communicators of the Year. Eight extraordinary individuals and six extraordinary organizations were nominated this year.”

The 12 nominees for the 2011 award, double the number of entries from the previous year and three times the four nominated in the first prize year, collectively garnered more than 5,000 votes. That number is twice the total number of votes cast for the 2010 entrants and more than 10 times the number cast in the first prize year.

In addition, the third prize year of the contest was marked by active outreach and campaigning initiative by the individual and organizational nominees competing for the non-cash award, as those nominated — seemingly more so than in the first two years — actively sought and campaigned for the “of the year” communications distinction.