Professor advocates even more hysterical propaganda messaging for climate change communications. As we have repeatedly pointed out, this is the wrong approach: “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.”
51% of voters under 35 believe human life may be wiped out on earth with in 10 years. This assertion is not supported by any scientific evidence but is a fear created out of thin air by lying, exaggeration, hyperbole by politicians, activists and media propagandists. The result is an induced epidemic of mass anxiety with many now requiring medical care.
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.
If you want to get people to tune out and turn off news and information about climate, keep doing this. Per the peer reviewed literature, the claim highlighted above is bull shit. People see that – and not the facts – and just turn it all off. This is not how to present concerns about climate.
A person of influence echoes our comments on hyperbole and exaggeration failing to address climate issues and providing solutions.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.