>Selling Climate Change


I am a bit late to pick this up, but Club Orlov has a post on how to talk about climate change for dummies, or more specifically, to dummies. You know, for the people who, as soon as there’s a cold snap, say, “Well, there’s yer global warming for ya!”, who refer to environmentalists as “tree huggers” and idiot hippies, and who, well, watch Fox News. In other words, people who have stopped thinking about things, if they ever did. The title to this post doesn’t sit well with me, because I find it a shame that we even need to think about selling climate change to anyone. Like selling the theory of gravity. But, these days, it has to done.

I spent a year working in advertising, and have gained some understanding of what sort of ammunition it takes to make [certain] people absorb and respond to a message. Significantly, it does not involve making them think; for those unaccustomed to thought, it is uncomfortable, and making them uncomfortable tends to anger them. Climate scientists and environmental activists who support them have been struggling to get their message across: that an increase in average global temperature of 6 degrees Celsius by the end of the century is likely and would be a catastrophe. Let’s deconstruct this message[….] Starting at the end, there is this big scary Greek word. Tune that out: “cat… here, kitty-kitty!” Let’s also cross out all the words he doesn’t care about: “scientists,” “average,” “global” and “Celsius.” These are all noise words. What we are left with is “It will be 6 degrees warmer.” If he were wearing a sweatshirt, he might be prompted to think about taking it off, but as he is already down to just the boxers and the wife-beater, we shouldn’t wish him to disrobe any further. If he succeeds in processing “by the end of the century,” he would translate it as “not any time soon.” If the word “likely” makes it through his cognitive filter, it would come out as “maybe.” The message, as received, thus reads: “Maybe it will get a bit warmer long after I am dead. Well, whoop-tee-doo! What else is on TV? (boldface mine)

There’s more, and it’s kinda fun. Click here for the whole article.

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