Branding the Global Warming Debate

Peggy Wente in the Globe today delivered one of her trademark spot on columns that states the painfully obvious on a hot button issue that has, perhaps oddly, found itself immersed in the partisan left-right culture wars: climate change.  The column doesn’t make any claims about the veracity of the science on one side or the other, it is more about the failure of branding on the part of those most loudly calling for action.  Stated succinctly:

Why are people cooling on warming? One reason is surely the apocalyptic language of Mr. Flannery and others. When they say we are doomed unless we radically change our way of life by the end of next week, people figure the problem is exaggerated – or else far too big to fix.

It’s a matter of tone really.  The propensity for climate change activists to adopt a “you don’t get it, and your ignorance is destroying the world” stance does not win them easy converts.  At its most extreme, these folks almost appear to take pleasure in their prophesies, a parody of the ecstatic doomsday cult.  Joe middle class suburbia looks on incredulously, thinking his 2000 sq ft of paradise and crossover in the driveway weren’t really quite that bad.   Indeed, this gets to a more central issue with regard to climate change – that governments have spent the last 60 years encouraging a suburban, consumption, car-based culture – it is fair to say the masses were doing what was desired of them and creating plenty of tax revenue in the process. Change will not come easy where the case can be made, and currently it’s not being made well.  So climate change activists and academics would do better to tone down their sanctimony (I saw another perfect example with David Suzuki on BNN’s Squeezeplay today where he mocked carbon capture), and come up with something that resonates better.  And just for the record, I do believe the science of climate change, though not the most apocalyptic scenarios, which very little of the science backs up (and I have read both Tim Flannery and Bjorn Lomberg).


2 Responses to “Branding the Global Warming Debate”

  1. Ken Says:

    It’s funny how it seems conservatives, probably paid off by the insurance companies, create the most extreme exaggerations like calling Obama Hitler and it seems to work, while liberal exaggerations are immediately condemned, also by other liberals (Petraous, Betray Us).

  2. tombroen Says:

    Good point -though I want liberals to be making a more convincing case than they currently are. Not sure about the States but all the Obama = Hitler people look like total nutcases to us up here in Canada. To imply he is a social democratic would be one thing but these people display an obvious total lack of understanding if history and what Hitler actually was. Interesting I was reading that a lot of corporate America has been distancing itself from the GW = hoax misinformation – though when i look at comments on the WSJ site, you certainly wouldn’t know it!

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