'Messaging' is the field of public relations, communications and political persuasion that permeates our highly connected societies via conventional media and social media. The language used in tweets, public announcements and media articles can have a bearing on how well climate teachings, climate campaigns and climate protests are received.
Framing the Discussion
With the explosion of material online and in social media, linguist and cognitive scientist George Lakoff points out that framing the conversation properly is always important see:
- “Don’t Think of an Elephant! Know Your Values and Frame the Debate” – George Lakoff, Chelsea Green Publishing, 2014
George Lakoff has retired as Distinguished Professor of Cognitive Science and Linguistics at the University of California at Berkeley. He is now Director of the Center for Neural Mind & Society at UC Berkeley.
The New York Times offers suggestions for reaching climate change skeptics via such tactics as an appeal to common values:
To help with discussions VOX writers found 12 common defeatist excuses for doing nothing.
- Isn’t it alarmist to talk about the potential extinction of the human species?
- Isn’t it already too late to prevent catastrophe?
- How do I deal with the fact that this is so depressing?
- Won’t it be impossible to get off fossil fuels? Emissions keep going up, and oil companies are too powerful.
- But I’m just one person. Do my choices even matter in a world of 7 billion people?
- Why should I deprive myself of meat and air travel? It’s human nature to pursue short-term pleasure.
- Isn’t it mainly a rich and powerful people’s problem? I’m not rich.
- What is the one easy thing I can do?
- It’s obvious the US needs to pass serious federal climate legislation, but isn’t our political system broken? Leaders have short-term attention spans. And many are beholden to fossil fuel interests.
- But won’t decarbonization cost too much? Won’t it hurt the global economy?
- Aren’t you making what economists call “zero sum” mistakes (my consumption doesn’t limit yours, we can both gain in “win-win” trade)?
- Surely the techies will invent something that saves us?
See the original article:
- 12 excuses for climate inaction and how to refute them - Vox - Eliza Barclay and Jag Bhalla - September 20, 2019
The Conversation as some additional advice from Dr. William Lamb, one of the authors of the Cardiff paper reported in:
- Climate University denial hasn’t gone away – here’s how to spot arguments for delaying climate action - Stuart Capstick, Research Fellow in Psychology, Cardiff University - July 30, 2020
The Audience: ‘Opinions’ Differ
According to the IPCC, the biggest impediment to predicting what will happen with global warming is how people will respond. Political will is largely absent but there are signs as of 2019 that this is changing. Moving the ‘Neutrals’ below is expected to be a key factor in any campaign.
Several types of responses seem common when raising concerns about the climate crisis:
|Response||Philosophy||Working For or Against|
|Right, I agree, what can I do?||concerned supporters||For|
|It’s a matter of national security, we need to have a plan.||patriots||For|
|Oh, no not again I’m so tired of hearing about climate change, I don’t want to think about it.||apathetics||Neutral|
|It’s fine the techies will find a solution and all will be well.||optimists||Neutral|
|I agree but it’s too late, there’s nothing we can do, let me go.||fatalists||Neutral|
|It’s even worse we’re all going to die.||extinctionists||Neutral|
|I agree but it’s all part of God’s plan, relax.||evangelicals||Neutral|
|It’s all bunk, it’s all natural variation.||anti-science deniers||Against|
|It’s a dark conspiracy by liberals trying to impose a socialist agenda.||right wing fanatics||Against|
|Doing anything when it’s probably not a problem anyway is going to destroy the economy and jobs – don’t even think about the GND, we can’t afford it.||Fossil fuel industry and their beneficiaries, wealthy conservatives||Against|
An analysis of these types would allow us to construct targeting messaging. Areas of analysis might include by Rep, Dem, Ind, etc,; by Members of Congress; by demographics, etc. etc.; by State.