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Month: September 2019

Climate communications: the problem with buying cars based on miles-per-gallon

Climate communications: the problem with buying cars based on miles-per-gallon

Nice illustration of how easy we can be fooled by numbers: to save gas, do you upgrade your 36 mpg car to a newer 46 mpg car, or do you upgrade your pickup truck from 15 mpg to 18 mpg? You drive both the same amount per year. Most people will select the 10 mpg fuel improvement – but they’ll save twice as much gas if they updated the pick up truck.

How Negative News Distorts Our Thinking | Psychology Today

How Negative News Distorts Our Thinking | Psychology Today

News focused on the negative, is overly dramatic, leads us to false conclusions about the world and is largely pointless speculation, fear and dlick-bait headlines designed primarily to attract eyeballs to advertisers. News is also largely a waste of our time, says Psychology Today.

Climate Communications “Fail”: This is what happens when propaganda gets extreme

Climate Communications “Fail”: This is what happens when propaganda gets extreme

A classic illustration of how exaggerated, hyperbolic and untrue statements about climate lead to people conclude that projections of human-induced climate change are not true. Our own thesis is that improved communication comes from honest and accurate presentation of facts and logical arguments. Unfortunately, the climate communications community has, rather consistently, engaged in increasingly shrill propaganda messaging that eventually results in the “The boy who cried wolf” phenomena where no one believes anything anymore. This item illustrates how climate communications has backfired, circled back on itself, and produced an outcome opposite to what was intended.

Climate Communications: 60+ news outlets sign on to coordinated, global “Covering Climate Now” messaging campaign

Climate Communications: 60+ news outlets sign on to coordinated, global “Covering Climate Now” messaging campaign

Newspapers worldwide have agreed to jointly engage in a global Covering Climate Now project, where newspapers and other news outlets simultaneously use their advocacy journalism to persuade readers to take action on climate. This is indistinguishable from a global, coordinated propaganda operation and may back fire, turning people off from understanding and undertaking meaningful actions on climate issues.

Climate Communications: The Guardian goes full propaganda

Climate Communications: The Guardian goes full propaganda

The Guardian’s style guides says “climate change” is out and to be replaced by “climate crisis” and “climate emergency”. Both wordings were invented by the Guardian – “crisis” does not appear in the IPCC reports and “emergency” appears only in conjunction with “emergency medical services”. Increasingly dramatic reporting is backfiring and turning people off – a more effective strategy might be to report on the facts and logical arguments.

Climate Communications: Much of what we think we know about “sustainability” and “ethical” food choices is wrong, really wrong

Climate Communications: Much of what we think we know about “sustainability” and “ethical” food choices is wrong, really wrong

Some great examples of how people make decisions – and conclusions – based on marketing propaganda. Many now choose “almond milk” because production doesn’t produce as much green house gases (notably methane) as produced by dairy milk. Except it takes 6.098 liters (1,611 US gallons) to make 1 liter of almond milk, and most almonds are grown in California which has high variability (e.g. frequent drought) in rainfall. People make supposedly environmentally friendly choices based on incorrect information, limited information, or missing critical context.

Climate Communications: Climate media coverage lacks facts, say researchers

Climate Communications: Climate media coverage lacks facts, say researchers

Two professors took a look at how the media has reported on the topic of climate and found that almost all news reports leave out critical and basic facts about climate. A corollary is that instead of reporting facts and the use of logic that supports anthropogenic climate change, most turn to propaganda methods such as appeal to authority, fear, name calling (“deniers”), get-on-the-bandwagon and so on. Incredibly, as I was writing this post The Nature Conservancy sent an email fundraising solicitation which illustrates the point: the first sentence of the email makes 4 demonstrably false claims to create fear about changes in climate. “Factfulness” teaches us how to detect when we are being misled – this turned out to be classic example of a charitable organization making exaggerated claims not supported by reputable science organizations (IPCC, NOAA, The Royal Society).

This post may be the first of several on how climate communications has been badly bungled by reliance on propaganda methods, rather than sticking with facts and logic.

Are people demanding more fake news?

Are people demanding more fake news?

Heh: “…a good short definition of an election campaign would be “a sustained, intense, all-party burst of falsehood, slander and misrepresentation.” In other words, the fundamental basis of most political campaigns is fake news generated by the campaigns themselves.