Talking to The Tea Party About Climate?

Is talking to Tea Partiers about climate that different from talking to your eco-friendly, politically-savvy friends?
This post is part of the research project: Word on the Street
Czajnik Zielony,

Czajnik Zielony,

Striking up a conversation about climate change with somebody who denies the science? Usually I’d say ‘don’t bother.’ But if I’m right and there’s actually a little Tea Partier in all of us, maybe there’s a thing or two hard-core science deniers can teach us about climate communications more generally.

First things first. Where is the so-called Tea Party on climate change? Recent polling shows that it’s not a voting bloc that we’re likely to persuade. Indeed, research by Yale and George Mason University found that among conservatives, it is mainly members of the Tea Party who do not believe climate change is occurring. While the majority of Democrats (78%), Independents (71%) and Republicans (53%) believe in global warming,  only 34% of the Tea Party agrees with them—and 53 percent are pretty adamant it is not happening. (When you ask about man-made climate change, “belief” drops even further for the Tea Party: While 62 percent of Democrats say that global warming is caused mostly by human activities, most Tea Party members say it is either naturally caused (50%) or isn’t happening at all (21%).)

That’s no big surprise.

And here’s further evidence from the Yale/George Mason research that piling on more facts and data with this group doesn’t get us very far: “Tea Party members are much more likely to say that they are ‘very well informed’ about global warming than the other groups. Likewise, they are also much more likely to say they ‘do not need any more information’ about global warming to make up their mind.”

But what could move the needle with these folks? And why do I care?

Like I said, I honestly think that when it comes to climate change, there’s a little Tea Party in all of us. Denial (or call it compartmentalization, coping, prioritizing, ignoring, fearing change in how we live, or freaking out on such a massive scale that the only way to deal is to completely push it out of your mind…you know who you are!) is pretty pervasive even among the most progressive, pro-science folks I know. If it weren’t, we’d probably be a lot closer to having public and political will for mitigation policies.

My point is, effectively talking to Tea Partiers about climate might not be that different from talking to my own eco-friendly, politically-savvy Seattle friends and neighbors who “get” climate on an intellectual level but haven’t necessarily felt the urgency of the situation nor invested in it on an emotional level.

So, here are some tips that apply to just about everybody—thanks to FrameWorks Institute.

Go for the gut, not the brain. “To build support among climate change deniers,” FrameWorks researchers write, “it is important to start the conversation by invoking the values that these groups embody. By starting the conversation with a commonly-held value (rather than unframed information), advocates can gain more communicative traction on this issue.”

Here are the top-level values FrameWorks identifies:

Prosperity: “Tea Party members value economic prosperity. A recent Nature article about organizations that promote climate skepticism, such as the Heartland Institute, shows that skeptics are most often concerned about the economic costs of implementing climate change solutions.”

In other words, like many Americans, Tea Party folks aren’t crazy about any kind of change. Maybe fear of the impacts of climate policy solutions trumps our fear of more abstract and unimaginable climate impacts. FrameWorks suggests that “by talking about clean technology solutions to climate change in a way that illustrates the benefits to our domestic economy, advocates can more effectively engage these groups in a constructive assessment of the situation.”

Dave Roberts has been saying this for years too. While climate communicators take the bait and keep bickering about the science, the other side is winning on values, identity, and raw emotion. He writes, “we need to be out there arguing that beating global warming will make us more prosperous, more healthy, more just, and happier. We need to make this fight appealing. Science is not going to do the work for us.”

Stewardship: According to Frameworks, “framing global warming in terms of stewardship” or as “creation care” can also be an effective reframing approach. They point out that “the Yale report mentions that Tea Party members are more likely to be evangelical Christian, and thus, integrating values of Christian stewardship for the planet can be a stronger starting point that can lead to productive conversations on climate change solutions.” (Note: FrameWorks uses the term “future generations” in their language recommendation—a common refrain that I’m hoping we can entirely eliminate from our messages and our thinking—because the fact is that climate change is happening now—to our generation and to our kids. “Future generations,” in my opinion, reinforces the counterproductive idea that climate change is distant in place and time.)

Solutions: FrameWorks says: Focus on pragmatic solutions. We transcend petty political divides and eschew the science debate frame altogether when we talk solutions—and the myriad co-benefits of steering our economy off the dirty fuel roller coaster.

Talk solutions. All kinds of people get behind solutions—even the ones who deny the science and arch against liberals, government, and the like. I’ve noted this before—many times, in fact. But, FrameWorks points to the Yale study to reinforce this idea, noting that “the majority of all four parties expressed support for specific climate solutions, such as research funding for renewable energy and providing tax rebates for purchases of solar panels and energy efficient vehicles.”

In other words, talking about no-brainer solutions works with Tea Partiers and all kinds of other audiences too.

I agree on all those points. I’d also add that we should have an accurate, direct, and balanced conversation about impacts that are already happening right now, including extreme weather, as a way of talking about climate change in concrete, local, and visual ways.

Now, you may be thinking that the average Tea Partier has long since walked away, unmoved—and probably annoyed. That may be true. But, let’s keep thinking about that Seattle (or Portland, or Boise, or Vancouver) neighbor who prides herself on meticulous recycling and who brings reusable bags to the grocery store, but who gets kind of irked when you incessantly bring up climate change at her cocktail parties. (What a downer!) What about the tiny slice of Tea Party in her?

Here are more tips that work for anybody with strong opinions:

Start by making people feel confident about their personal strengths (a.k.a. butter them up). And show pictures!

Why? As Chris Mooney explains over at DeSmogBlog, there’s a funny thing political science researchers call “motivated reasoning”—where “people’s subconscious emotional impulses lead them to respond, in a biased way, to information that challenges their deeply held beliefs and worldviews.” Studies have shown that when confronted with politically inconvenient or world-view-clashing information, it can actually have a “backfire effect” where subjects actually cling even more tightly to existing beliefs in the face of contrary evidence.

But, new research on “the power of political misinformation” by Brendan Nyhan and Jason Reifler, shows that when contradictory information was presented in the form of a convincing graph, showing a clear trend, the subjects were more likely to accept the new information—or less likely to get defensive and refute it than when they read about the same data without a visual. (You can see the wonky text that failed to convince with the graph that worked, here).

And, as Mooney explains, when subjects went through a “self-affirmation” exercise, “in which they were asked to describe a positive character attribute or value that they possessed, and talk about a situation in which showing that attribute or trait made them feel good about themselves,” they were far less likely to reject the information that discredited previously held beliefs. As Mooney explains, “what this shows is that people are clearly resisting facts because these threaten their identities—which means that arguing back at them factually will only make them more defensive and engender a backfire effect. By contrast, approaching them in an emotionally sensitive and aware manner, and making them feel less threatened, will open them up. (Sometimes, at least).”

Mooney is quick to point out that the findings aren’t without some problems—especially when it comes to climate change. The study wasn’t conducted “in a really partisan context that would have gotten people’s political emotions firing,” for one thing. Talking about climate change or Obama or—heaven forbid—Al Gore, might throw the “backfire effect” back into high gear for many whose identity is defined in large part by their political views (and against others’ views). These are likely the same folks who will also go to great lengths to trash perfectly legitimate graphical representations of climate information.

Still, there’s no reason not to try these approaches—even if you never talk to a real live Tea Partier. Try it on your best friend!

So, once again, here’s the checklist (in no particular order):

  1. Take your climate change conversations from the intellectual to the emotional level and talk in terms of core values;
  2.  Use faith language when appropriate and when it’s authentic;
  3. Talk solutions (and their benefits for health, economic stability, and quality of life);
  4. Talk about impacts happening here and now;
  5. Tell your audience how smart they are (or have them tell you why they are smart);
  6. Show them some charts and graphs.

And…if all that doesn’t work, ask your friend to watch the Republican primary debates with you! Why? According to Jon Krosnick, a political science professor at Stanford University, Americans are forced to think about their stance on global warming when watching conservatives debate climate change. He credits a rise in overall belief in global warming—from 75 percent last year to 83 percent in a September 2011 Reuters/Stanford/Ipsos poll—to a backlash against all the highly-publicized climate science denialism going on in the political arena.

Remind your groovy friends that, as Reuters reports, “Republican presidential candidates, aside from Jon Huntsman, have mostly blasted the idea that emissions from burning fossil fuels and other human actions are warming the planet. The current front-runner, Texas Governor Rick Perry, has accused scientists of manipulating climate data while Michele Bachmann has said climate change is a hoax.”

No wonder Bill Clinton recently said “We look like a joke!”—talking about American climate science denial. The point is that it’s not only the deniers who look bad here; we all look like a joke when the rest of us are complacent about what’s going on.

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  1. mememine69 says:

    Climate Change was exaggerated, otherwise we would be seeing the thousands of saintly scientists marching in the streets and warning us of climate change “crisis” and acting like climate change was the comet hit of a disaster they said it was.
    Former believes are happy for the planet and we the voting majority now, won’t allow taxing the air to make the weather colder and lower the seas.
    Remove the CO2 and continue good stewardship anew, without the needless fear of doom. Now who’s the real fear mongering necon eh? It was your turn. It was another Bush like false war, only for libs, and religion, journalism, and all of science. And isn’t it ironic that it was scientists who “denied” the dangers of their pesticides, you know, the pesticides that poisoned our planet in the first place, apparently.

  2. mememine69 says:

    Liberals dont love the planet, they hate humanity for like bible thumping neocons they condemn billions of children to a CO2 death if they don’t bow to belief and they deny evolution by denying all ancient climates because they say; “this climate we have now of rapid warming hasn’t happened before”.
    Tell that to the tropical fossils under the melting ice. Now who’s the fear mongering and lying neocon eh?

  3. Windy says:

    Anna here is a good way for readers of your blog to Beta test your ideas in this article to see if they have merit.

    At a party readers should find a Christian person and say to them, “Christ was a lying, fornicating sack of crap and anyone who believes what he says should be forced to get a lobotomy.” Make sure you shout as loud as you can so that everyone at the party hears you. Then wait a week or two and go visit that person and use your little cheat sheet of persuasive tactics to see if you can get them to pay your rent. If they pay your rent you’re ready for the true test which is to find a woman who was beaten and cheated on by her ex-husband and use your nifty new communication tool to get her to want to remarry him. Then you will be ready to convince the Tea Party types that progressives have constantly demonized as violent, vile, lying, stupid, redneck, inbreeding, denying, Nazi, etc. teabaggers. I’m sure your nifty little progressive communication tactics will be all the rage with the Tea Party and they will be supporting a tripling of energy prices and a pathway to another recession in no time at all.

    I would wish you good luck but I have already seen Chris Mooney try the same tactics and he is being laughed off of the message boards by Tea Party types. Far be it from me to discourage anyone from trying to pee into the oncoming wind of a hurricane though. :-)

  4. Resilient says:

    I really like the point you make in parens:

    .I’m starting to think that we ought to frame some discussions around “resilience” instead of “sustainability” for that very reason. Things are getting weird now, and in terms of climate change, we’re talkin’ bout our generation. We need to be resilient so that we can be ready for the changes that are coming, that no one can really predict.

  5. Resilient says:

    The point you made in parens was: (Note: FrameWorks uses the term “future generations” in their language recommendation—a common refrain that I’m hoping we can entirely eliminate from our messages and our thinking—because the fact is that climate change is happening now—to our generation and to our kids. “Future generations,” in my opinion, reinforces the counterproductive idea that climate change is distant in place and time.)

  6. Banatu says:

    You know, greenies talking about a ‘gut feeling’ is funny. Thanks to increasing implementation and enforcement of UN Agenda 21 Sustainable Development policies, it’s exactly where millions and millions of us are feeling it — we’re hungry. And cold. And that’s not even counting the toxic ‘technology’ forced on us.

    The deliberate rising price of food and energy is HURTING PEOPLE. Agenda 21 isn’t all of it but it’s a huge part of it. You can talk all you want about some theoretical horrible future, such as mankind has always envisioned in some form or another, but don’t you dare pretend you’re not HURTING PEOPLE RIGHT NOW. And it’s getting worse every day.

    But then again that was point all along wasn’t it? Too many people on Earth, right?

    Sorry. I’m a little bitter. I know most of you mean well. You guys really need to look a little deeper into what exactly you’re supporting though. And understand you’re not going to be spared.

  7. TinyCO2 says:

    No, I’m sorry, but it really is about the science.

    I say that as a non American, tea hating, atheist with a low carbon footprint, so maybe I’m not the sort of denier you have in mind but I am a climate sceptic so the principles should persuade me if they are effective.

    Let me look at your points.

    1) The move from the intellectual to the emotional is pointless because it relies on two things –
    a) that there is significant evidence that someone or something is at risk due to CO2 which comes back to the science
    b) that the solutions will make things better and not worse.
    You can’t make a case for most ‘clean’ energy forms because they are… there aren’t enough polite words to describe how bad they are. OK if they were the only form of energy you’d be grateful but they’re not. They all need masses of subsidies to run and the poor carry a greater burden for them in their bills. You can’t run a country on non fossil fuels unless it’s nuclear and those who object to that aren’t divided along political lines. If you think people argue about the science, it’s nothing compared to how much they argue about the solutions. Only the Chinese will get rich selling solar panels, made using coal powered energy and spewing real pollutants like lead into their local environment. Hmm somehow that doesn’t seem so appealing.

    2) Since AGW is similar in many ways to a religion, tugging on spiritual strings might be effective but it is a form of social blackmail which often backfires. It also ties into a shame of prosperity, which I’m not sure that Tea Party supporters are prone to.

    3) You talk of solutions, I hear money pouring down the drain, which will affect my quality of life right now. CO2 cannot affect the quality of life unless it significantly affects climate (back to the science). CO2 cannot affect my health unless it significantly affects climate (back to the science). Not all effects of climate change are negative.

    4) Talk about the impacts here and now – what impacts? First you have to pick an effect, then you have to demonstrate that it is significant, then prove it has got worse in line with global warming and finally prove that the warming isn’t natural (back to the science). You also have to prove that the harm of man made warming outweighs the advantages of warming and increased CO2.

    5) Apart from the tiny flaws in your arguments, this is a really great article.

    6) Please, show some charts and graphs because that is part of the science. Of course you mustn’t be disheartened if sceptics have got charts and graphs that are just as good as yours but tell a different story.

    Now to be serious. Scepticism (or denial if you insist) really is about the science. For you it is convincing, I’m happy for you, but for me it’s just not good enough to re-engineer a society based successfully on fossil fuels that has taken several hundred years to create. For all the faults and hazards of a modern world, I like my life. I wouldn’t care to live in any other era or any other country where the CO2 footprint was small. Would you?

    Unless a new form of low carbon energy is invented (and that could be tens or hundreds of years away) then the ONLY way to reduce CO2 enough is to have less of everything. Less travel, less food, less possessions, less children, less pets, less clothes, less space, less comfort, less leisure time, less freedom. At what point do you spring that reality on people? Somehow I’m not sure most AGW believers are ready for that, never mind Tea Party supporters.

    • Coclesmary says:

      You are so right about one thing, especially in the US wasting resources is how it is. The complete lack of awareness about how much of our daily life is using and using, and using, things we don’t really need. The plastic bag is a good example, people don’t need them about 80% of the time, yet never consider saying no. That’s just a small example. Meat production in this country is a/the major producer of C02 emissions, I find the people who know don’t care. Leave your lights on? Sure, why not? We could probably save 20% of our energy needs overnight with a little thought. Also, the pollution beginning in China is just the beginning,and no, there is no border keeping the mercury and all the other pollutants there will come calling back here to the US.

      • TinyCO2 says:

        While you’ve mentioned one biggie, meat production, the others are tiny parts of the picture.

        Consider your home. One of the reasons why the UK has a very much smaller CO2 footprint than the US is because we are a much smaller country. Because land is at a premium, a lot of people are crammed together, homes are smaller leading to less possessions, less heating, less of everything, places are closer together requiring less travel, parking is tight leading to smaller cars, etc. The area of the average new three bedroom home in the UK is 88 square metres (947.2 square ft) and the most common new three bedroom home is smaller still at 74 square metres (796.5 square ft). Tiny, and our flats are even smaller.

        Do people aspire to live with less than their parents? No. UK houses are getting smaller because that’s all people can afford but it’s still very much more space per person than what was normal when the UK last had a CO2 footprint of 2 tonnes. Back then the principle form of transport was the horse and most short journeys were on foot. A holiday was one day at the sea side and a short train trip. There was no electricity, no central heating, no phone, no fitted kitchen, no fancy diet. It doesn’t matter how efficient you make modern equipment or manufacturing, they don’t use less energy than zero.

        Look around you. Think about the simplest things, from the light switch to the buttons on your clothing and consider – can I have those things in a low CO2 world?

        Until you realise how immense the task of cutting CO2 to those kinds of levels would be, then you don’t realise how convincing the science has to be.

  8. tom civiletti says:

    Well, there you have it. Folks can come up with all sorts of reasons to not do something to deal with climate change. They may deny it’s happening. They may deny it is caused by human action. They may claim AGW is a scam to increase research grants or institute one world government socialism. They may claim it would be too expensive to do something, that the damage of climate change will be minimal, that the poor will suffer most, that Al Gore bought a house on the beach, that…. Folks will believe all sorts of things to validate their predispositions, evidence be damned.

    I spend quite a bit of time debating climate cranks on various internet forums. The most ardent cranks are libertarians who consider the remedies for AGW an affront to their political philosophy. They refuse to accept the need for collective action, especially on an international level. For them, climate change cannot be an important issue because individuals functioning in the marketplace cannot deal with it.

    • TinyCO2 says:

      No, no. it’s AGW believers that think ‘individuals functioning in the marketplace cannot deal with it’ which is why they lie to everyone including themselves about how much effort it would take to cut CO2 significantly. I dunno, maybe you think that if you get people started changing their light bulbs and ramping up their utility bills they won’t notice the pain? Think again. Support for AGW is waning faster in the UK, where we are doing far more to cut CO2, than the US. And despite all the expenditure on windmills, etc, the UK’s carbon footprint has actually gone UP if imports and exports are included in the calculation. Who is really in denial?

      AGW is a very important issue but you can’t treat it like you would any other subject. AGW would be for life. You can’t PR your way to 2 tonnes of per capita CO2.

  9. Georgie Bright Kunkel says:

    I watched an interview with the person who is credited with originating the Tea Party movement. She says that people need to become more self reliant. That of course means that government is not to step in to subsidize citizens but should bow out.

    It is interesting that the government has bailed out corporations and given tax breaks and incentives to corporations which are now persons under the law. Perhaps if corporations were to be more self reliant it might help even more. We do not have true capitaliism but we have welfare for the rich. Until that is stopped, individuals can’t really take care of all their own needs without government support.

  10. Anna Fahey says:

    I hope my main point hasn’t been lost here. I don’t actually suggest trying to convince Tea Party folks of anything. Quite the opposite. I’m saying TRY THIS AT HOME. I’m talking about the lack of urgency among the rest of us–people just like me and my Seattle neighbors who love to differentiate ourselves from the Tea Party. How can we channel our “inner Tea Party” to understand why we ourselves aren’t demanding leadership from our elected officials on climate change solutions?

    • TinyCO2 says:

      But why is it all about “demanding leadership from our elected officials”? Isn’t that passing the buck? Ultimately it’s YOU that will have to cut CO2. You as an individual, a home dweller, a traveller, an adult, a worker, a consumer, a tax payer, a bill payer. People expect some magical solution from government or business but without a new technology we need to re-engineer society. How low are you prepared to go? The Tea Party is successful because it wants something. Do you want to cut your CO2? Do you want government to force you to cut your CO2 because you know you’re too weak to do it unilaterally?

      The Kyoto agreement was all about ‘I’m not doing it if you’re not doing it’. Emerging emitters like China and India are on record saying they won’t limit their countries because they deserve to emit as much as developed countries have historically. Do they sound like they believe AGW is a serious problem? How much CO2 would you allow them to emit before things are fair? And if Africa and other undeveloped countries want their turn will you be OK with cutting US CO2 to compensate? Remember the 2 tonnes of CO2 per capita only stops emissions at current levels, it doesn’t take us back to 350ppm and it doesn’t account for rising populations or increasing third world emissions.

      A recent article documented a UK council’s upgrade of a typical home to make it highly energy efficient. It cost £90,000, which was about a quarter of its £350,000 value. I couldn’t afford that, could you? If we run that out across our 26 million UK homes, then that racks up a bill of trillions. Now do the same for businesses. Then add huge investment in low energy power, which would be greater than we currently use because we would have swapped our petrol cars for electric ones. Klang! That’s the sound of the UK going bankrupt… permanently. Duplicate that across the developed world.

      So before you campaign for a low CO2 world, decide how much pain you are prepared to embrace. At that point you might want to look again at the science to make sure it’s as good as it needs to be.

      • Dr. Paula W says:

        Read the Stern report and reflect on how much it is going to cost to pay for the effects of global climate change. In Alaska, where I live, it is going to cost $180 million to move a village that is being eaten away by coastal erosion. How about paying for the damage of Hurricane Irene? If you are motivated by cost, you should consider what the costs are of not moving to renewable energy, not just the costs of moving there.

      • robsurfer says:

        Tiny, you ask “why is it all about “demanding leadership from our elected officials”? You then effectively answer your own question when you point out that “…we need to re-engineer society”. Try re-engineering society as an individual independent of political leadership. You are absolutely correct that ultimately we individuals will need to cut our CO2 but we are only likely to make a big enough difference if we do it as part of a well planned and orchestrated collective effort to re-engineer society. It would be nice if we all signed up to execute the same plan rather than each of us inventing and executing our own. You wouldn’t have advocated Britain’s response to Hitler should have been initiated without political leadership and a common plan. The human response to climate change requires national mobilization on a similar scale in every country that is making a major contribution to global CO2 emissions. It’s amazing what can be done, and what sacrifices people are willing to make when everyone around them (at least in their own country) is making them too. Sure there’s no way that’s going to be synchronised across the world but there’s even less hope that China, India and others will accelerate the necessary changes unless the main CO2/head emitters – U.S.,Canada, European countries lead by example. Don’t underestimate the value of political leadership but recognize that it’s not going to materialize unless WE build up sufficient grass roots pressure.

      • TinyCO2 says:

        Reply to Dr Paula W.

        You’ve listed things that I already know about and don’t find convincing enough. Presumably they work for you, so how low are you prepared to cut your CO2 and at that level what would your life be like?

        Reply to Robsurfer

        Unfortunately you live in a democracy so you can’t make people do anything unless you have the balance of governmental power. The majority of people (even those who sign up to AGW) don’t know what cutting CO2 entails. They really don’t. Nobody admits to the need for re-engineering society. Secretly they’re hoping for a new technology that will prevent the need for substantial cuts. Unfortunately inventions don’t pop up just because you need them. They pretend that a bit of investment in renewables and a few easy energy saving acts at home will do in the mean time.

        The UK is already proving that a lie. Cutting CO2 has had a huge media and government push, all three main political parties are on board, The BBC campaigns continuously, major businesses are keen to jump on the band wagon, we recycle, we have bird munching windmills, we all got free low energy light bulbs from our energy suppliers but don’t use them because they’re too dark, we have the third highest petrol prices in the world, we have about a fifth of the population in (heating and power) fuel poverty and yet, our CO2 footprint has gone up in real terms. We’re not consuming less, we just stick our emissions onto China’s budget. All that and UK scepticism is on the rise. Each CO2 cutting exercise gets harder and harder to mobilise.

        That is the people telling the government what they really think about AGW. Sooner or later they’ll listen and cutting CO2 will fall out of favour. CO2 increasing policies start to slip in (eg raising speed limit to 80mph). A few campaigners can seem like a lot of people but when a nation moan about their utility bills the government can tell the difference.

        People only trust in climate science until they have to pay for it. That means it’s not very convincing.

  11. Fred says:

    Anna Fahey, I’m sorry to inform you that the issue you’ve hitched your wagon too is as dead as Al Gore’s 2000 campaign stump speech. It’s ok, everyone gets sucked in from time to time, we can all get taken advantage of by the establishment’s never ending desire to turn us into surfs for fun and profit- but now it’s time for you to grow up, join the real world and start living your own life. Instead wasting it on this AGL dribble- get out their Anna!! Have some fun!! The world is not coming to an end.

    • TinyCO2 says:

      AGW isn’t dead, it’s a genuine issue and one that’s costing us real money. The question has never been ‘is it true or false’ but ‘how big will it be’. Climate science may prove to be correct but premature. The most prominent sceptics accept that there will be some warming. Remember the story about the boy who cried wolf – there really was a wolf in the end.

      Many of the issues that are raised under AGW are significant and worthy of examination whatever the truth about CO2. Over population, GM crops, deforestation, global resources, waste, nuclear power, etc. Real solutions are being ignored because they don’t suit AGW policy or the groups that support it (eg Green Peace reject nuclear).

      To determine if action on AGW is even possible you first have to find out if people are really worried about it. If you gage by people’s actions then the answer is ‘no’. And by that measure AGW is really sick if not quite dead, at least until new information comes in.

      While I dislike the PR elements oozing into the AGW issue, I think the failings so far can be likened to a bad product launch. It has been presented to the public too soon. It’s not ready enough to be seen and judged by the media. It failed to perform to specification at the press conference and supporters ended up making excuses for it that may be true but sound desperate. Your potential customers are drifting over to the competition who are keen to point out the flaws. My advice would be to withdraw it from the market. Hire some quality control specialists. Get the bugs hammered out and re-launch it when you’re sure it’s up to world class standard.

      • robsurfer says:

        I fear that your gloomy analysis has a great deal of truth in it, but having said that, it’s not clear to me what you have in mind when you say your (metaphorical) product launch was presented to the public too early.

        Are you suggesting that could have been avoided and:
        a) that the scientists, who have been discovering increasingly disturbing evidence of man-made global warming, climate change, and dramatically rising species extinction rates together with evidence that the window of opportunity to avoid runaway climate change is rapidly closing/may have already closed, should not have drawn this to the attention of our political leaders? OR
        b) that the political leaders should have taken action to prevent the above bad news getting media attention? OR
        c) ???

        It’s not obvious how anyone could have prevented this AGW/Climate Change “product” from launching itself into the public consciousness or if that would have been a good thing even if were possible.

        We are rapidly approaching (or may have already passed) the point where nothing we do can avoid rising CO2 levels crossing the runaway climate change threshold. We are the only species on the planet capable of foreseeing that risk. We must clearly continue to do our damnedest to ensure that as many of us as possible realize that the choices we are making right now on CO2 emissions are likely to have a dramatic impact on the survival probabilities of most of our descendents (including our grandchildren) and most of the planet’s species.

        We still have a very real chance to bring down the risk but time is not on our side.

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