Monday, February 19, 2007

Act Like Facts are Beyond Argument

The Canadian blog Small Dead Animals links to a Ranting Stan discovery of globalwarmist propaganda guidelines. The take home line is: "it is our recommendation that, at least for popular communications, interested agencies now need to treat the argument as having been won. This means simply behaving as if climate change exists and is real, and that individual actions are effective". Or as Stan paraphrases: “just pretend that there is no argument and that we're right”.

This is exactly the type of smoking gun global warming deniers, like me, want the public to see. The only trouble is the link no longer goes to an article at the Institute for Public Policy Research and I can’t locate the quoted source. (UPDATE: the source is a pdf file download from the page) What is available are two similarly worded articles by Simon Retallack going into detail about how and why the environmentalist message needs tweaking to achieve their goal of widespread lifestyle changes.
6/17/2006 Communicating Climate Change: The role of the public is clearly critical and the adoption of effective policies for removing barriers and creating incentives for people to change their behaviour is imperative. So too, however, is the deployment of effective communications. And here we may be getting it wrong.

What the FrameWorks Institute found was startling. It found that the more people are bombarded with words or images of devastating, quasi-Biblical effects of global warming, the more likely they are to tune out and switch instead into "adaptationist" mode, focusing on protecting themselves and their families, such as by buying large vehicles to secure their safety.

FrameWorks found that depicting global warming as being about "scary weather" evokes the weather "frame" which sets up a highly pernicious set of reactions, as weather is something we react to and is outside human control. We do not prevent or change it, we prepare for it, adjust to it or move away from it. Also, focusing on the long timelines and scale of global warming further encourages people to adapt, encouraging people to think "it won't happen in my lifetime" and "there's nothing an individual can do".

As importantly, the FrameWorks Institute found that stressing the large scale of global warming and then telling people they can solve it through small actions like changing a light-bulb evokes a disconnect that undermines credibility and encourages people to think that action is meaningless. The common practice of throwing solutions in at the end of a discussion fails to signal to people that this is a problem that could be solved at all.

8/15/2006 Against the climate pornographers: The problem is real, of course, but to address the sense likely to be derived from the contested nature of the discourse that “nobody really knows,” the basic facts need to be treated as beyond argument, or so taken-for-granted that they need barely be spoken.

As importantly, we need to place the solutions upfront and inject communications about them with the energy and sense of scale that they currently lack. That may mean shifting the focus away from small actions towards the big ones that people can take to address climate change, like switching to a hybrid car, fitting a wind turbine or solar panels, or installing cavity wall insulation, which are more likely to make people feel they could actually make a difference. It may also involve using language which appeals to our collective sense of heroic common endeavor, familiar from times of war.

Above all, it is not enough to produce yet more messages to convince people of the reality of climate change and urge them to act. We need to work in more sophisticated ways, including by harnessing tools used by brand advertisers, to make it not dutiful or obedient to be climate-friendly, but desirable. That perhaps is the greatest challenge.
The entire climate change media campaign is simply a sophisticated political ploy to gain socialist power over first world economies. Man made dangerous global warming is the plausible scenario being sold to the public to justify this power grab. It is a plausible but false story. Followers that they are, the media will cooperate in presenting the facts as ‘beyond argument’ even though no observational research establishes magical planetary powers for carbon dioxide.