How Do You Talk to shcb About Climate Change?

From the Center for Research on Environmental Decisions: The Psychology of Climate Change Communication. The subtitle reads:

A Guide for Scientists, Journalists, Educators, Political Aides, and the Interested Public

Currently reading it, but so far it sounds like good stuff. As summarized by Chris Mooney, the guide’s advice includes:

…knowing your audience, employing framing, using trusted messengers (often local voices), using the power of groupthink in your favor (rather than letting it turn against you), and much else.

I’ll probably yack more about this when I’ve finished it.

22 Responses to “How Do You Talk to shcb About Climate Change?”

  1. shcb Says:

    Are you sure Tony Robbins didn’t write this?

    sub- sub title “How to sell snake oil”

  2. Smith Says:

    “sub- sub title “How to sell snake oil””

    Your sub-sub sounds more Beck than Robbins.

  3. shcb Says:

    tomato, tomato.

  4. enkidu Says:

    How to talk to wrong wing nut jobs about Climate Change (or any issue of import to the world)? Use facts, be consistent, use science and when their bullshit whackdoodlery gets too crazy, mock, deride and move on.

    Same with the birther nonsense. Obama was born in Hawaii, his certificate is on file, he has a certificate of live birth and two birth announcements in the papers a couple days after he was born. In Hawaii.

    I wonder how the whackjobs and racists that are the rethug/teabagger/teabircher morans explain the two birth announcements… a time machine? Magic? Sunspots? Tides? what. the. fuck. ever.

    bullshit is bullshit
    and when you brush your teeth with bullshit for so long that you can’t tell your breath stinks, don’t ask normal people to pretend it doesn’t.

  5. shcb Says:

    What? Do you foam at the mouth?

  6. shcb Says:

    If you have a good product it will sell itself, you don’t need this kind of trickery. When you tell people that carbon dioxide is the cause of warming and it stops warming while the carbon dioxide levels increase people understand, you can’t put it in simpler terms, you can’t dumb it down any further for any audience, which of course is what this book is all about. No one can be so stupid as to be able to look at a set of data and come up with a different conclusion than a liberal, they must be taught, or tricked, or forced to understand what liberals say is true.

    The key arguments have fallen apart for AGW, it is no more complicated than that, AlGore is backtracking after making his millions, the emails are there, the climate hasn’t warmed for the last decade and a half save El Nino, which seems to have a much bigger effect than gas composition, hell, it isn’t even called Global Warming anymore, because it isn’t, and on and on. But tops, you have no viable solution, you can’t sell turning off air conditioners all summer without a better track record above, people aren’t going to stop driving cars. But mostly they have seen through the tax the rich give to the poor scam which is all this really is. Sorry, you have a bad product.

  7. enkidu Says:

    What? Do you have shit for brains?

  8. shcb Says:

    Ouch, that cut to the bone :)

  9. jbc Says:

    Thanks, shcb, for your substantive comment above (“If you have a good product it will sell itself…”). While there are things you said there that I think are clearly wrong, there are other things that I think are clearly right, and plenty of interesting stuff in the middle that I enjoyed reading and thinking about.

    I tend to ignore most of the comments here, and schoolyard taunts like enkidu’s above tend to push me in that direction. I appreciate your willingness to persist in making real contributions to the discussion even in the face of that sort of provocation.

    As to the linked-to item, I’ve finished reading it. I thought it was weaker in the beginning (very general, and kind of wishy-washy), but that it got stronger toward the end. It definitely stimulated my thinking in terms of how I might work to address climate change as part of my own group interactions. A lot of its observations were obvious, but sometimes pointing out the obvious can be helpful.

    I get what you’re saying about the “framing” discussion being mostly about salesmanship. But there’s a difference between salesmanship that is trickery, and salesmanship that is concerned with presenting truthful information in a way that will be most persuasive with its intended audience. I recognize that there’s a gray area in between, and that many (most?) acts of salesmanship fall somewhere in the middle.

    I find the scientific community’s response to their failures to communicate the risks of climate change to the general public over the last few years to be really interesting. These are people who live in a culture that is very resistant to “framing” or “selling” ideas, forced by their concerns over what the data are telling them to move outside their area of expertise (and outside their comfort zone) and try to actively grapple with a skeptical lay audience. They’re smart people, and ridiculously expert at one thing (climate), but that doesn’t necessarily help them with this new challenge. But being smart people, I think they’ve got a shot at learning what they need to know to succeed at this, and materials like CRED’s will probably help them with that.

  10. shcb Says:

    Sure, it doesn’t do any good to have a great product if no one knows if it exists. Being a good salesman is an honorable profession and to that extent this is a worthwhile piece. I just read the summary at the end, it looks interesting, I’ll try and read the rest. This reminds me of the obligatory point before and after an election where Republicans lament they don’t have more of the minority vote and there is a faction that wants to change the party to get more of that vote. The fact is minorities and especially blacks just plain don’t want what R’s are selling, same with Jews, I don’t know why, tradition maybe? Many of them lead very conservative lives, they just feel more comfortable with the Democratic message. But at some point you have to realize you can’t corner the market.

    I support many of the ideals of the AWG people, just not for the AWG reason. Repackaging the argument isn’t going to change my mind. It’s like going to buy a new truck only to have the salesman try and sell me a car, I’ve made up my mind I don’t want a car, you would have to be a super salesman to change that. But good sales tactics will change a few minds, good luck, it will be an uphill battle. You guys crested a few years ago, I think it will be ten years before you can get traction again. You may have to count your blessings and realize this is about all you’re going to get for now, you’ve made a lot of progress with the environmental side of the issue, you just lost most of the socialistic side.

  11. jbc Says:

    I’m not sure what you mean when you write, “you’ve made a lot of progress with the environmental side of the issue, you just lost most of the socialistic side.” Can you elaborate on what you mean by the two sides? Where have I/we “made a lot of progress”? And where have we “lost”?


  12. shcb Says:

    Cap and trade and Kyoto were for the most part attempts to tax rich countries and give the money to poor (with government taking a handling fee of course) without much effect on the environment. Socialism on a global scale. Those initiatives have largely failed. This is a win for my side, and yours as well if your priority is the environment.

    On the plus side for climate hawks there are windmills popping up all over the place, I think they are a boondoggle without the technology to store or transport the power effectively but at least we are learning how to harness wind on a large scale if and when other technologies catch up. The nuclear debate is at least alive once again; this is the only viable solution to fossil fuels until the next technology is developed, and good for the environment. People are generally more accepting of alternatives than they were 20 years ago even if those alternatives aren’t particularly efficient, this gets to the salesmanship aspect again. Sometimes you don’t make the sale today but you have laid the groundwork for later. Having people accept alternatives will make it easier when legitimate alternatives are found. These are all wins for your side, and mine as well.

  13. enkidu Says:

    What? Do you foam at the mouth?
    and my response
    What? Do you have shit for brains?
    cancel each other out as far (o dear me, I used an uncouth word!)

    but if you want to waste your time ‘debating’ nonsense, more power to you

    or at least more time to waste, because you will *never* convince a wrong wing nutjob of anything but what fox/rush/etc spew

    If 2010 is warmer than the average for the decade, can you please stop saying the it is all tides/el nino/sunspots/anything but human activity?

    no, they won’t
    and the sooner we collectively marginalize wwnj nonsense the better
    unless you enjoy ‘debating’ the kitchen table
    in which case, knock yourself out

  14. shcb Says:

    :) you want to leave out all variables except one and you say I am not looking at this scientifically?

  15. enkidu Says:

    the climate hasn’t warmed for the last decade and a half save El Nino

    If 2010 is warmer than the average for the decade, can you please stop saying the it is all tides/el nino/sunspots/anything but human activity? Going back to the same graph that knarls posted, you just can’t look at the reality of the fact that the temps are higher than the last decade and trending higher.

    I’m sorry if I just get fed up with your nonsense, and I just don’t have the time to research and rebut in detail, but there is simply no convincing a dedicated wrong wing nutjob. ymmv, if you think it is fun or that you have a ghost of a chance of convincing a wwnj that Rush is wrong and the 98% of climate scientists (and the DoD) who think climate disruption is real, then you go right ahead and waste your time as you see fit. Enjoy!

    Just don’t insist that I have to be civil when some nutjob asks me if I foam at the mouth or whatever.

  16. shcb Says:

    They are higher than the last decade but are not trending higher except in years of El Nino, those are the facts, you can ignore them if you want but that is the reality. You can’t ignore the effect of the ocean and sun on the warmth of the earth.

    the reality is the decade of 2000-2009 was warmer than 1990-1998, but it is also true that 1990-1998 the temps went up and 2000-2009 they leveled off, truth. Make of it what you wish.

    98% of climate scientists don’t agree with each other what color socks to wear, they certainly don’t agree AWG is primarily caused by man. 98% of a certain group that meet a plethera of criteria do, but not 98%.

  17. enkidu Says:

    Look at those top three graphs (the top one is last year’s version of knarl’s graf)
    now look at the last two decades. The five year running mean (red line is… UP
    You keep harping about ocean temps: guess what, they are rising too (as well as absorbing CO2 and changing their pH). Sure there is some lag, but

    the temps did not level off – especially northern hemisphere, you know, where the majority of human activity and population is…

    up is not down, up is not leveled off (particularly for the northern hemisphere, where most of the industrial activity is taking place)

    again, up is *not* down

  18. Smith Says:

    “but if you want to waste your time ‘debating’ nonsense, more power to you

    or at least more time to waste, because you will *never* convince a wrong wing nutjob of anything but what fox/rush/etc spew”

    Enky isn’t following his own advice.

    Oh, and it is good to know that jbc considers “shit for brains” worthy of condemnation, but apparently doesn’t feel the need to denounce shcb’s frequent racist bullshit. Gives some extra insight into the thoughts of our host.

  19. jbc Says:

    It wasn’t so much the “shit for brains” comment that I was referring to, as much as the “brush your teeth with bullshit”-containing comment that preceded it. And I wasn’t trying to condemn that comment (well, I guess I did call it a “schoolyard taunt”), as much as thank shcb for being willing to ignore it and continue discussing the issue with me in a civil way.

    It’s true that I don’t feel a need to denounce shcb’s “frequent racist bullshit”, but it’s also true that I don’t remember seeing it. I don’t read at least 90% of the comments you guys post on the site. This thread, and the subsequent one with all the climate change metaphor discussion, are anomalous in that sense.

    Also, even when I do notice a comment that I find offensive, my default mode is to ignore it. If you’re going to start trying to infer my inner thoughts based on my failure to condemn comments, you’re going to be able to accumulate quite a list. You could start with some of the comments on this post, and this one.

  20. shcb Says:

    Enky, we’re talking apples to oranges, you brought in the last 3 decades, yes the 2000-10 decade is warmer than the previous 3 atleast, but it is also mostly level, bringing in the 5 year average is going to pull in that upward slope. Both our statements can and do coexist.

  21. enkidu Says:

    You are right smith, I’m not following my own advice, but it is fun to pull the beard of the local loquacious lu… er headset equipped natterer-on.

    wwnj, not to be as pedantic (and, well, wrong) as you, but I’m not whining about your moving the goal posts and changing the ‘debate’ to suit. Again, just looking at the last two (ok, fine look at three if you like, then look at the whole graf, geez) the red line goes… up. I mean, you do know what a running mean is right? Picking any three years, say 06, 07 and 08 and saying look the line is down! is pure… nonsense. A running mean smoothes out statistical noise. Think of it as a trend. the trend is… c’mon, you can do it…. up.

    Up is not down. It isn’t flat. Up is… you know, up.

    Here is one updated graph direct from nasa:
    more here:

    Only one more month to report on and what do you think the odds are that it will be dark brown, red or orange? Does that look like the profile of a year that is down in temp? Up is up (sigh).

    jbc – please allow me to fix my objectionable posts:
    If you brush your teeth with lies for so long that you can’t tell your breath stinks, don’t ask normal people to pretend it doesn’t.
    shcb: Do you froth at the mouth? enkidu: Do you have lies for brains?

    Also, suggest removing the 5 times you use the term “bullsh!t” in the manifesto.

    And yes, wwnj has said some pretty racist things (mud hut countries or people or similar variations being some of the most hilarious). same old same old

    hello 2011

  22. NorthernLite Says:

    I think we need to hear more from the folks at NASA, National Geographic, Science journals and the like. These are the people that have taught us everything we know about our planet and beyond and they need to start speaking up.

    The blowhards and anti-science/pro-fossil fuel crowds are yelling at the top of their lungs and it seems these days that those who scream the loudest are the ones that are considered right, regardless of what they’re saying and whether its based in fact.

    Happy New Year.

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