We explored the dynamics associated with the spectrum of challenges in guiding a policy conversation on climate change. In particular we looked at research by Yale University and the Climate Meme project. Based on this material and your own observations— what do you believe are the top three challenges to be overcome in framing the climate change conversation in the United States and abroad. Describe these top three challenges in a way that also presents potential ways around the challenges.
Before you begin:
These are assignments that I have turned in for my TECH 4310 Future of Energy and Environment class, these are my own thoughts and you may not take them without citing them. I will not post them all, but a majority of them.
- There is a major lack of a tangible argument in the form of framing the time scale to bring the debate those who aren’t so certain about climate change, because current messages are targeted towards people who already believe in climate change. The messengers are preaching to the choir, with arguments of degrees Celsius, carbon emissions, and melting ice caps. These are not tangible enough for the average person to care about because climate change occurs over such a long time frame that it is mentally hard for humans to imagine. They do not understand what the scientists are saying because it sounds like the scientists are speaking in code, Greek, or some combination thereof. When shown temperature graphs, anyone on the street can tell you the temperatures are increasing. However, the average Joe doesn’t really spend much time thinking about what the earth will look like in a hundred years, they simply assume it won’t change because geologic events and shifts in the climate occur over periods of time that are difficult for humans to conceive. As Bob Dylan said, “something is happening here, but you don’t know what it is.” It’s unlikely that anyone I know, including me, will be alive in 300 years, so why should I bother thinking about that? Essentially, science needs a better Marketing department. They need to reframe the effects of rising emissions in terms of impacts that you and I will see, not what is happening at the North Pole. When something directly effects someone, they are more likely to look at the facts, come to a logical conclusion, and take appropriate action.
- The dismissive are unlikely to change their opinion until they can actually SEE the effect, and by then they’ll be dead, or it will be too late. The Alarmed are not going to change their minds, they know humans are causing climate change and there is nothing you can say to dissuade them. Both groups are unlikely to change their minds, as they summarily reject any contrary arguments, and both groups hold opposite views on the subject. The other groups are not being targeted correctly to get them to stand up and pay attention.
Once the right rhetoric is found, people will begin to take notice, be receptive to the message, and be able to relate to it. If you tell someone who lives in Texas about the poor Polar bears that are going to die because of climate change: so what? We don’t have Polar Bears in Texas. But if you tell them that climate change will disrupt the football season, then we have a major problem here. There must be some way to fully target everyone with one message, there is a common denominator between everyone, it must be found and explained in a way that everyone can personally understand.
- The Media has taken over the message, distorted it with the use of politics, and polarized the nation over the issue. While the polar opposites comprise of a tiny portion of the population, they have dominated the debate, leading Americans to believe that we are either environmentalist hippies who believe we are on a path to destruction and damnation, or that we are conspiracy theorists who think the government is trying to convince the American public that the scientists are not telling the truth, and it’s really one giant political hoax. The media gives a megaphone to the loudest on the right and the left, never understanding that real change is going to be enacted by those in the center, those who have proven, over the years, that their opinions are capable of changing.
When you have news reports that aim to deceive the public for political gain, you hijack the debate with ludicrous news headlines such as this:
Or headlines that completely miss the point, such as this: