[ Left to Right : Dr David Adam (The Guardian), Ben Stewart (Greenpeace), Tooki the Toucan operated by George Marshall (ClimateDenial.org) and Marina from Campaign against Climate Change]
On Wednesday evening, at the “Sceptic Backlash” public event, hosted by the Campaign against Climate Change, communications researcher George Marshall introduced the meeting to an unusual commentator on Climate Change…
Here is a transcript of what George Marshall said (as I have it) :-
– I do a lot of work around Climate Change communications and information.
– Climate Change is a large and technical issue. No one has the time to get totally on top of it. Even within the Science the specialists only look at their specialist areas.
– The average Media “punter” (somebody looking for information) is looking for a shortcut – their “ask” is “just tell me what’s going on”.
– Most people ask “Dave” down the pub (public house, bar). Friends and acquaintances in bars are the most important people in your social network, no doubt.
– And Dave says he saw this thing on telly (television)…
– The average person is just looking for a source of information that has some kind of authority…
– I’m now going to introduce you to a Climate expert. Princeton University Sloan Professor Richard Lindzen couldn’t make it here tonight, but I do have an expert here who can speak on behalf of the Science – [pulls out stuffed glove puppet] Tooki the Toucan !
– [Question and answer session with the sqawking toy regarding various data about Climate.] Who believes the views of Richard Lindzen ? And who believes the Toucan ?
– [I used this example to highlight that we tend to agree with those] supporting what we already know [even if that’s a stuffed toy !]
– The information we hear is filtered on existing parameters [what we already accept].
– How we form beliefs – based on a cluster of attitudes [that we already have]. Lindzen is presenting a cluster of attitudes.
– I’ve met leading climatologists – many coming fom the free market right – for example [Lord Nigel] Lawson’s body [The Global Warming Policy Foundation], and when they speak, the Climate Science is hardly touched upon.
– This word “freedom” is a touchstone – they’re not listening to the Science.
– The language they use speaks to and triggers their own world attitudes.
– [Many Climate Change “sceptics”] have held leading, serious offices [functions, of state] in the past, but they are now retired.
– They like being in the limelight.
– Many of them are good communicators – charming.
– Philip Stott – do any of you know Professor Philip Stott ? [Professor Emeritus of Biogeography at the School of Oriental and African Studies]. The Media know that if they can get him, he’s going to give good telly.
– Remember, when the Media call you they to ask a few questions they are interviewing you to see if you can give a good performance.
– The way people form beliefs is not by going through the [peer-reviewed] literature, it’s based on trust and their pre-existing worldviews.
– [The sceptics aim to present you with a package of ideas] provide you with a shortcut so you don’t have to think about it.
– The sceptics provide reassurance – they’re thorough – about the way they collect story lines. This kind of rigour was promoted by Frank Lunz [USA political strategist] – the words have to create “resonant metaphors”.
– The sceptics have tried out many different messages [on focus groups, for example] – they are not bound to the truth.
– Their core narratives [centre around their projection that they are] valiant speakers for truth. They play the “outsider” role well.
– We’ve been dependent on Science so much.
– [The sceptics use this against us by accusing us, saying] we’ve been telling lies – about hell, catastrophe, sacrifice, austerity…
– Who are the public going to go with ? The business-as-usual, coherent narrative [ – the “All is OK. Nothing to worry about” story].
– [The environmentalists continue to make the fatal mistake of “owning” Climate Change]. We promote our own lifestyles, stamp our [ideological] interests all over the subject of Climate Change.
– We have to get our act together in terms of communications.
– We need to speak to peoples’ existing values.
– We need to increase the range of people speaking – to different views and politics – create a diversity of messaging.
– Campaigners have to let go of the [same old, same old] way we talk about Climate Change.