After information deficit, after framing, what will be next?

In the developed world most people accept that the climate is warming and that humans are at least partially responsible. (In the developing world most have never heard of the issue.)

However, they don’t much care, consistently rating climate change somewhere between hangnails and the heartbreak of psoriasis on their list of things requiring attention.

As Vox puts it, “The danger of climate change does not arouse much public passion, certainly nothing like what the facts would warrant. This drives climate campaigners crazy. Always has.”

There have been several strategies used by climate activists to try and change it. The two ‘legitimate’ efforts have been to try and overcome an ‘information deficit,’ which translates into educating people about the issue, and ‘framing’ the issue, which used to be called finding the right sales pitch.

Vox writes, “A letter published this month in Nature Climate Change attempts to settle the question. Researchers Thomas Bernauer and Liam F. McGrath, political scientists at Switzerland’s Center for Comparative and International Studies, set up experiments in which people (drawn from different demographic and ideological backgrounds) were randomly assigned texts that framed climate change in different ways.

One was “climate risk reduction,” the standard frame. The other three were “economic co-benefits, community building, and health benefits.” At the end, subjects were tested on three different measures of willingness to support action on climate change, ranging from personal action to policy action.Long story short: None of it worked. The researchers found that different framings had no consistent or statistically significant effects on subjects’ willingness to support climate action.”

Climate activists have also engaged in ‘guerrilla marketing,’ mounting campaigns against their opponents and using emotive iconography to paint a picture of a world threatened by climate change that has in fact barely begun to register on the measuring devices of environmental scientists.

But, as Vox says, none of it has worked. The public still accepts climate change and still refuses to be overly concerned about it.

The activist community is stubborn–and I don’t mean that as an insult. Dogged determination has been one of the root causes of success for many social causes. So I don’t think they have any intention of abandoning the fight. The political successes they have had are a) not enough to turn the tide (or lower it, for that matter) and b) are easily reversible with a change of governments, as shown in Australia, Canada and the UK.

Those who are convinced that climate change is the challenge facing this decade/century/millenium will continue to try and find the key to the public opinion puzzle.

If I were counseling them, I would suggest that a good look at  history might be of some value to them going forward. To date, the only playbook they have availed themselves of has been the struggle against Big Tobacco. They want to prosecute oil companies, jail dissenters, etc., because that’s what activists did fighting tobacco.

But this requires a certain blindness, to history as well as morality. As noted in 2012 by the Guardian, “Revenues from global tobacco sales are estimated to be close to $500bn (£316bn), generating combined profits for the six largest firms of $35.1bn – more than $1,100 a second.” What exactly did the activists win?

They managed to drag executives into court, won some high profile cases and won damages or reparations for families of some who were killed by smoking. They blackened the names of the industry that has blackened the lungs of millions–but that’s about it.

That climate activists have convinced themselves that this strategy is a winner is odd, but no odder than many of the things climate activists have done.

I wonder why they don’t pick a movement that actually succeeded? There are many to choose from, ranging from abolition to votes for women to civil rights. Why, there are even environmental campaigns that actually succeeded.

The most recent successful movement has been for legal and social acceptance of the LGBT members of society. Although the movement has a long history, actual movement of the issue was telescoped into this last decade.

There are lessons to be learned from each of these movements. But there’s one thing they all had in common–they were outside the establishment agitating for change.

Which means to me that, whatever path they choose next, claiming the mantle of authority and the legitimacy of consensus may not prove to be the best foundation for their future efforts.

Sometimes that tells the wrong story.

appeal-to-authority-doctors-and-camels

Advertisements

13 responses to “After information deficit, after framing, what will be next?

  1. It is telling that the most powerful example you Xan find is one that is purely social and required Courts over turning laws and popular votes to make it happen
    That few people actually care about the extreme bizarre demands of the climate imperialists is helping their agenda, not hurting it. The information deficit on climate is how few people actually understand how over the top and extreme the climate consensus actually is.

  2. It is telling that the most powerful example you can find is one that is purely social and required Courts over turning laws and popular votes to make it happen
    That few people actually care about the extreme bizarre demands of the climate imperialists is helping their agenda, not hurting it. The information deficit on climate is how few people actually understand how over the top and extreme the climate consensus actually is.

  3. “They managed to drag executives into court, won some high profile cases and won damages or reparations for families of some who were killed by smoking. They blackened the names of the industry that has blackened the lungs of millions–but that’s about it”

    You neglected to mention their greatest achievement. In four states, including Minnesota, they secured an endless source of funding for activism.

  4. By the way, the quote you provide from Vox is quite revealing- look at it closely: ““The danger of climate change does not arouse much public passion, certainly nothing like what the facts would warrant. This drives climate campaigners crazy. Always has.”
    So what are the actual facts of “climate change”?
    Answer: That nothing of any significance has changed in world climate.
    Then Vox points out:
    “…This drives climate campaigners crazy. Always has.”
    So it is the mental state of climate campaigners in trying to convince people to ignore reality that drives this entire social madness.
    Vox states it pretty clearly, actually.

  5. The real success against smoking came in the 60’s and 70’s, long before any lawsuits against tobacco companies. It came from public education, driven largely by the government. Some big differences from the climate change campaign were (1) it made intuitive sense, (2) the scientific evidence was overwhelming, (3) individuals could take action (or not) that directly affected their individual outcomes.

    More relevant might be the campaigns, from the same era, against air and water pollution. Those required collective action to have any effect. But again people could see and smell the problems.

    Even more like climate change was CFC’s, since that was also about a potential future harm that was essentially theoretical. But the initial action (banning CFC’s in spray cans) was extremely easy and the harder action (general ban of CFC’s) took strong evidence, in spite of being much easier than doing anything about CO2.

    What the climate campaigners refuse to consider is the possibility that they might be wrong and the public might be right.

  6. What’s the best way to sell something to the public? Sell them stuff they already want. When it comes to persuading the public, some are predisposed to believing in AGW but nobody is sold on what it would take to do anything about it (spending other people’s money doesn’t count). We’re all a mixtures of beliefs and concerns but what we do is a measure of how genuinely worried or committed we are. Some might think that climate activists are the proof that people genuinely believe in AGW but people like campaigning. The social aspect, the moralising, the relaxed dress code, what’s not to like?

    One of the easiest things to give up should be flying but ask most warmists to do so and you’d think you’d made an indecent proposal. Their commitment to reducing CO2 runs out before you get to the terminal, never mind the end of the runway. Their excuse is that they don’t see why they should suffer more than anyone else. How laughable. I believe we shouldn’t waste energy but I don’t refuse to insulate on the grounds not everyone else will follow suit. I like saving money but I don’t feel compelled to fritter it away because others don’t agree with me.

    No amount of spin will persuade you to do what you fundamentally don’t want to. The persuasion has to be genuine. It also has to be proportionate to what is being asked. So the evidence needed to tick a box on a form is very small but the amount needed to pry warmists out of planes is much greater and is a target that climate scientists haven’t met.

  7. What comes after climate imperialist years of failed fear mongering and suppression of discussion?
    Censorship, intimidation, and ever more self dealing.

  8. Over the last 5 years, study after study have shown that when it comes to mitigation of human activity induced climate change the information deficit model is ineffective, not applicable and irrelevant. Still, those who claim to be concerned about climate cling to like the last lifeboat on the Titanic. I found out that to even suggest an alternative approach pretty much makes you unwelcome in the conversation. As Bugs Bunny would say, “What a bunch of maroons”.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s