Comm. professor says framing key to winning global warming struggle

AU Communications professor Matt Nesbit made his comments in reference to a recent Boston Globe column by Ellen Goodman saying what’s important in America now isn’t environmental science but political science.

Unfortunately, Goodman’s article also illustrated how not to frame the argument for sound climate-change policies: “Let's just say that global warming deniers are now on a par with Holocaust deniers, though one denies the past and the other denies the present and future.”

DeSmogBlog has warned against this. Climate change is a science issue, not a free-speech issue, and calling someone a denier should not put them into a category with people who deny the Holocaust.

Goodman is right, however, about polarization of American politics over global warming: “This great divide comes from the science-be-damned-and-debunked attitude of the Bush administration and its favorite media outlets.”

Moreover, Goodman writes, the American Enterprise Institute, which has gotten $1.6 million over the years from Exxon Mobil, offered $10,000 last summer to scientists who would counter the IPCC report.

It’s always best to stick to the facts.


Dr. Matt Nisbet’s interesting slide talk on this topic shows the resilient political divide on the issue (Gallup data, Slide 21). His next slide shows that more of the polled Republicans consider flag burning to be an important problem, compared to how they feel about the environment and global warming, at the bottom of the list. (Canadians, please don’t feel too superior - I’ll bet more Canadians are worried about George Bush, than are concerned about global warming.)

Nisbet’s slides:>

But, regarding the call for scientists to communicate, I think he realizes that the IPCC is one of the biggest communication successes ever. Scientists did that, largely. The news media listened to the science communications this time, rather than push flat-earthers to the front. Nisbet may be right that it is a mistake to try to counter ideology with reason. Some people write in because of worries related to their job in coal and energy, worries over investments, general hated of “liberals” (the too-much-US-AM-radio complex), etc. There will be no convincing them, but thanks to Desmogblog and other beacons, the rest of us can see their real motives.