Got Framing? Why Scientists Must Pay Attention to Communication Science, and Not Just as an Afterthought

Read time: 4 mins

There was the Tweet, from Andy Revkin: “Scientists Call For Stronger Global Governance To Address Climate Change.” Revkin linked to a Forbes story, that, in turn, linked to a new paper in Science by the “Earth System Governance Project,” described as “the largest social science research network in the area of governance and global environmental change.”

So why, then, don’t these scientists seem to know much about the social science when it comes to communication?

If you are a U.S. conservative, then “global governance” is automatic fighting words. Conservatives have individualistic values, as per Dan Kahan; they interpret the moral foundation of “liberty/oppression”—as per Jonathan Haidt–as a cry to resist power grabs by big government, and even more, global government.

This is deep seated, emotional, and powerful. And scientists have just brazenly triggered it by talking about “global governance.”  

Look: I’m no purist about communication. I know it is partly theory, and partly an art form. It requires creativity and humor as much as it requires listening to what science has to say about what persuades people (and what doesn’t).

But there are a few obvious tripwires that by now, people really should be aware of. And triggering the Tea Party’s “don’t tread on me” reflex surely ought to be one of them.

The “Earth System Governance Project” is, admittedly, a global group of scholars, so perhaps some of them are not attuned to the nature of politics in the U.S. But other members are indeed American. And all of them are working in a highly contested and politicized area, something that is rather hard to miss even in the ivory tower.

So if the problematic nature of their message did not occur to them, or to their editors and peer reviewers at Science, then this means the quest to improve science communication–based on science–still has a very long way to go.

To advance it, let me lay out one simple principle for contemplation: Don’t trust your instincts in communication. They are very probably wrong.

In general, scientists, liberals, and university-based people share a set of assumptions. To be brief, these are the Enlightenment assumptions….lay the facts out there, they are accepted, the world gets better, we change and improve.

But these assumptions are not universal, and in assuming they are, we completely hobble our communications.

Starting from their liberal Enlightenment framework, members of the “Earth System Governance Project” naturally assume since climate change is real, and since global institutions have failed to address it, we need better working global institutions. The steps from problem to solution are, for them, perfectly obvious.

And that’s precisely the problem.

Here’s a simple trick that might help scientists in such a situation: Try writing the Fox News headline for your paper. In the present case, I think that says it all.

Look, I want better global governance as much as the next liberal—but I know that the to express oneself in this way is to trigger conservative ire. And that goes doubly or triply if you’re a scientist and you want to be seen as a nonpartisan expert who is fair and even-handed. The call for global governance will appear inherently political to conservatives; heck, I am willing to bet that in a controlled experiment, such a framing will also drive them to deny global warming even more strongly than they do normally.

So what should scientists do? First and most obviously, read the research. And doing so leads to the conclusion that you can't just think about the science, or about the policy—you must also think about the cultural meaning and the system of morality you are conveying. 

Second–because I know this objection is coming–this doesn't mean that you can't propose the ideas or solutions that you think are the correct ones. But it does mean you probably ought to do so in a context that also credits some solutions that we know appeal to conservatives, like nuclear power and various forms of geoengineering. (See Dan Kahan's take here.)

And yes, I know very well that that may feel uncomfortable. But I promise you this: It's no less uncomfortable than the “global governance” framing feels to conservatives.

Finally, three: Everybody's free to take this advice and leave it. But don't be surprised if your communications backfire, if you get labeled political, or if someone uses you to support the idea that there really is a scientific conspiracy to sell us global warming when the real goal is socialist global government. (Yup, it has already happened.) You've been warned.

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You’re absolutely right, Chris.  And all I can do is groan, once again.  You’ve been very gentle with your comments here, I’d be a little more blunt about it.  How can scientists continue to be “The Gang that Couldn’t Shoot Straight” with their communications efforts?


This blunder is the result of two big things.  First, it’s the tin ear of scientists when it comes to mass communication.  The “global governance” headline is the equivalent to the embarrassing wardrobe of the guys on “The Big Bang Theory” sitcom.  Why not just title the paper, “The need for a stronger Big Brother system” just to make certain that every Tea Partier is alerted.  


And second, it’s the “do it yourself” mentality of scientists which I know all too well because I was one for nearly 20 years.  Scientists are cheap, cheap, cheap, resulting in this group crafting their own message rather than hiring a professional who would have instantly seen what you have here, that “global governance,” is just a ridiculous term in today’s political landscape.  


Chris saw it.  He’s a professional.  Why not at least reach out to some people who are in the trenches dealing with these communication dynamics on a daily basis?  Honestly, this just goes on and on – like the petition of scientists a couple years ago in Science that ended up being accompanied by a photoshopped photo of a polar bear on an ice floe.  There are ways to avoid these blunders.  You just have to be savvy enough to admit that communication is important.

Has the political ideology of climate justice been infused into the original goal of CO2 reduction? For example would a solution that provided CO2-free cheap energy be acceptable to those who also want wealth transfer to be a cornerstone of any solution?

Yes.  I believe so.

However there is a zero wealth transfer solution.

I refer you to a solution that is Zero Government, and approved by a Republican Economist;

My personal values do indeed lie with ‘climate justice’.  I feel that international cap and trade is a good thing.  We can pollute a lot more by paying Brazil not to trash the Amazon.

I have been swayed by conservative values and would be happier with just a tax.    (Of course in Canada since they’ve stated such values, they’ve gone on to do nothing.)

in order to take advantage of UN incentive money doled out to those countries that convert forest into croplands to persue the green dream of bio-fuels so that Richard Branson can believe he is a climate hawk by burining bio-fuels in his jet fleet. It’s all good.

Statements like that are the same as saying, “Its too hard, so why bother.”  “Its too complicated, so we can’t solve it.”,  “Some criminals got away, so why bother solving crimes.”

What you are saying is retarded and extremely low brow.  Grow Up.

In the oil and gas industry when we are confronted with a challenge, we rise to it and solve it.

How come you folks aren’t smart enough to rise to a challenge?


[Statements like that are the same as saying, “Its too hard, so why bother.”  “Its too complicated, so we can’t solve it.”,  “Some criminals got away, so why bother solving crimes.”]

Actually in my sarcasm what I said is that UN/global governence can’t solve it. Look at the Kyoto failure and the crashing carbon trading market, need I say more?

[In the oil and gas industry when we are confronted with a challenge, we rise to it and solve it.]

I know, that’s the power of a solutions oriented, financially motivated private sector. The oil industry sure proved those peak oil fabulists to be morons, didn’t they?

[How come you folks aren’t smart enough to rise to a challenge?]

I can only speak for the “retarded and extremely low brow” who didn’t “Grow Up” and we don’t want to rise to any challenge because we’re content with wasting resources on developing 12th century technology like wind power. It doesn’t matter if we actually have any valid solutions as long as we feel good about ourselves and maintain an egomaniacal view of moral superiority. We’re simply too busy, writing books based on on pseudoscientific psycho-babble  intended to paint others as trogladites, to use our brains for anything else.

In the face of windy denial of modern science & technology, Minnesotans plan to reduce CO2/GHGs by 80%, while a new study shows how modern wind turbines & distributed solar PV can provide 100% of its electric power, reliably & economically, 24/7.

“A new report released today by the Institute for Energy and Environmental Research shows that Minnesota can meet 100% of its electricity needs with in-state wind and solar power, and (with ample energy efficiency investments) at a comparable cost to its existing electricity supply.”

13 gigawatts of modern wind power & 4.6 gigawatts of distributed solar PV can add $90 billion to its economy & 50,000 Minnesotan jobs.

“The renewable energy mix would include approximately 13,000 megawatts of wind power and 4,600 megawatts of distributed solar PV. The expenditures for the new renewable energy, storage (via underground compressed air) and energy efficiency would pump more than $90 billion into the state’s economy and create 50,000 jobs.”

Minnesota Electricity Could Be 100% Renewable, 100% Local

“Minnesota’s electricity sector currently accounts for over one third of the state’s greenhouse gas emissions. State policy is to reduce emissions by 80% by 2050. “A significant change in electricity generation sources is clearly needed to achieve that goal,” Dr. Makhijani explained. “Fortunately, wind and solar can provide 100% of Minnesota’s electricity. These currently available technologies also offer significant job creation and economic development opportunities.”


Renewable Minnesota

Your links are to IEER, a left leaning think tank/PR firm. It is not an independent first hand source of information. Do as I did and go read the engineering reports on wind energy from EON-Netz in Germany and Energy companies in Denmark, or look for published retrospective studies based on actual wind efficiency data including costs and pollution of back up power for the 80% of the time that wind turbines aren’t providing enough energy. Here’s an example published just last October.

Denmark citizens are paying 41 cents/kWh and Germans are paying 33 cents/kWh. According to EIA the average US home used 11,496 kWh of electricity in 2010.

At 33 cents/kWh that’s $3,793.68 per year per household. The problem I saw when I read your link report was that the enviro impacts compressed air energy storage on a massive basis is an unknown nor do we know if it is feasible on a scale this large. There are no plans to test this until 2013 in Germany. Did you even read the report? It doesn’t look like you did to me. As I prefaced this post this is a PR fluff document based on too many maybes, mights and ifs. What’s funny is that you blindly accept what’s written in the report as if it’s gospel and then you consider me a denier of technology. Talk about irony.

My next criticism is that when solar PV gets down to an installed cost of $2.00/watt, which it will in 5 more years, I can put up my own solar panels, 3200 watts for my house, hook up 50 rechagable car batteries a propane backup system and I’m my own energy company charging myself a rate of 4.5 cents/kWh and no taxes added. Expalin to my why in the world I would want to pay some rip-off energy company 20 or 30 cents/kWh for their green energy?

While I don’t disagree that Desmogblog doesn’t discuss the science very well.

That’s not its purpose.  Please read their mission before commenting mindlessly about your latest crackpot science theories.  Please attempt to use facts in your discussions.

So… you grabbed a blog post and called it fact.  Nifty.  Personally I prefer reports from responsible organizations and peer reviewed journals.  (And there are lots that would actually take the time to publish your agenda. So why your bloggers are that illiterate is beyond me to understand.)

Now if you want to talk about solutions.  This isn’t the place to hammer that out.  As a capitalist I’m a strong believer in letting Market forces deal with this.  Carbon Tax Carbon Tax Carbon Tax.

There’s a great solution from a Republican Economist, that meets Libertarian Ideals, presented by James Hansen.

Zero Government Interference

As we all know, nuclear power has been in decline worldwide for some time now & is being replaced by renewable energy, particularly wind power.

In fact, in just 1 year, 41.2 GW of windpower was installed.  That’s 1.5 times more than all the nuclear power built during the last 10 years. And for 3 years running, 1.3 nukes worth of wind power has been installed each month.

“Last year alone, the world installed 50% more new wind-power capacity (41.2 gigawatts) than all new nuclear capacity installed from 2002 to 2011 (27.3 GW). In terms of electricity production, the wind-power industry has installed the equivalent of 1.3 nuclear reactors per month over the past three years.”

And within a single decade, Germany plans to replace its entire nuke fleet with renewables.

“In Germany, where nuclear power accounts for 22% of electricity production, replacing reactors with renewables is already viewed as a realistic alternative. Indeed, according to a report by the German government’s Ethics Commission, Germany should be able to replace nuclear power with renewables in a decade. The German government estimates that domestic electricity prices would rise by just €0.01/kWh, equivalent to €3 ($3.90) per month for an average German household, if it phased out its nuclear fleet. If Germany can do it, so can the United Kingdom (where nuclear power accounts for 16% of electricity supply) and Spain (where the share is 20%).”

So who’s next? Britain? Spain? Japan?

“Wind power has received a fraction of the financial support that nuclear energy has received – and yet wind can provide electricity at less than half the cost of new nuclear-power plants. According to the European Environment Agency, 80% of the total energy subsidies in the European Union is paid to fossil fuels and nuclear energy, while 19% goes to renewables. Moreover, wind energy has zero fuel costs, minimal waste-disposal and decommissioning costs, and a tiny fraction of nuclear power’s risk to human health or the environment.”

With onshore wind energy already half the cost of new nukes, it’s time to shift those nuclear & fossil fuel subsidies to rapidly deploy those clean, renewable energy technologies with those zero fuel costs.

“Meanwhile, offshore wind is already competitive with new nuclear energy, and there are at least ten other renewable energy technologies that are smarter, cleaner, and less risky than nuclear power. Indeed, it is nuclear power, not renewables, whose future in Europe presupposes continued massive government subsidies.”

Indeed, with offshore wind already competitive & without massive nuclear subsidies, nuclear power is proverbial toast as renewables power clean energy economies into the 21st Century .

“In short, the answer to whether renewable energy can fill the gap left by declining nuclear power is yes. Europe does not need nuclear power to meet its future energy needs.”

Blowing away nuclear power

Do try & keep up, windy, the world is moving on.

Despite windy disinformation & denial, we are full-speed ahead with aggressive greenhouse gas reduction goals, vehicle emission standards, and renewable energy targets to provide a sustainable clean energy economy.

“Long ahead of the rest of the U.S. on environmental policy, California is taking bold steps to tackle climate change — from committing to dramatic reductions in emissions, to establishing a cap-and-trade system, to mandating an increase in zero-emission vehicles. The bottom line, say state officials, is to foster an economy where sustainability is profitable.”

Electric power from renewable energy to 33% & beyond.

“California already has the most aggressive renewable portfolio standard in the U.S.; it requires 33 percent of the state’s electricity to be generated from renewable sources by 2020. California is ahead of schedule to meet that target, Alex asserted, thanks not only to the Million Solar Roofs program but also the installation of 4,242 megawatts of large-scale solar plants in the deserts in the southern part of the state. Governor Brown “has said 33 percent should be a floor, not a ceiling, and we need to think about how we get to 40 percent and even 50 percent,”

CO2/GHG reductions to a million tons per year.

“California is also poised to transform its vehicle fleet, which in turn promises to bring greener cars and trucks to the U.S. as a whole. As directed by AB 32, the Air Resources Board has required automakers to increase the amount of so-called Zero Emission Vehicles [ZEVs] — electric cars, hybrids, hybrid-electrics and hydrogen-fueled vehicles — sold in California by 15 percent by 2025, as board chair Mary Nichols explained in an interview with Yale Environment 360. This policy is projected to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 52 million tons a year by 2025, the equivalent of taking 10 million cars off the road.”

Insurance companies to disclose climate risks, starting in CA, NY, & WA.

“California’s decision this year to require insurance companies to disclose climate risks promises to have a similarly out-sized impact, especially since New York is joining California in the initiative. “Most insurers operating in the United States are operating in those two markets, and therefore need licenses from us,” commissioner Jones explained. Washington state is also requiring insurance companies to disclose these risks.”

And as history shows, where California leads, the nation follows.

California Takes the Lead With New Green Initiatives

I mentioned real data in an earlier reply to your post above and here is more real info including a comment fro Eon energy the company whose engineering reports I read. Do you still want Obama dumping billions into the lost cause of trying to compete with the Chinese on solar PV as is? Do what I did and research the cost of extracting rare Earth elements (REE) needed for wind and solar PV in China and then compare the Chinese costs to what the extraction costs will be here in the USA, and then tell me if you think we can be competetive on a massive scale. Here’s a little clue to get you started friendo. How many flat panel TVs were manufactured in the USA in 2011?



The German solar industry faces hard times due to excess capacity and falling funding - the competition with Chinese vendors does a: after Solon and solar Millennium has it now also Solarhybrid caught.


The Solarhybrid AG was announced by Tuesday evening in Brilon, that you had requested the opening of insolvency proceedings in the District Court Arnsberg due to inability to pay. The company received 2008 at the stock exchange specializes in the construction of large solar power plants. The entire industry suffers from overcapacity and falling support.

The special company had distributed in October 2011 still optimism and growth for 2012 prospect. In addition, the company in the first nine black figures wrote. Apparently it has taken over itself but in the financing of major projects.

Even Chinese manufacturer write red numbers
Solar hybrid is a comparatively small Member of the industry. The crisis has affected the already long time ago also the major solar companies. Sofight Conergy and Q-cells to survive, and once always optimistic Solarworld Chief Executive Frank Asbeck Meanwhile warns permanently hard times.

“If the reduction so goes through, the entire industry is forced to sell below their cost.” “We hold out that long”, he said on Tuesday compared to FOCUS online to the planned reduction of solar promotion. There is no company more throughout the industry, write the numbers still black. This also applies to Chinese producers.


E.on expects at the end of the German solar industry in five years

If you can’t keep up, windy, take notes.

Germany already has 53.8 Gigawatts of wind & solar generation in place & plans 25 Gigawatts of offshore wind power to replace their nukes.

“Already, Germany has built the world’s biggest renewable generation complex, with 53.8 gigawatts of wind and solar generators at the end of last year. Italy last year added a record 9 gigawatts of solar panels, overtaking Germany for the first time. The U.K. plans 18 gigawatts of offshore wind capacity by 2020, up from 1,500 megawatts now.”

“Not since the allies leveled Germany in World War II has Europe’s biggest economy undertaken a reconstruction of its energy market on this scale. Chancellor Angela Merkel is planning to build offshore wind farms that will cover an area six times the size of New York City and erect power lines that could stretch from London to Baghdad.”

“Germany aims to replace 17 nuclear reactors that supplied about a fifth of its electricity with renewables such as solar and wind.”

Worldwide, over the next couple decades, at least $10 trillion is needed to add 5.9 GW of electric power, & at least half will likely be renewable.

“Germany is among the first nations to grapple with a global need to upgrade power stations. By 2035, at least $10 trillion of investment is needed to add 5,900 gigawatts of generation worldwide, more than five times the capacity of all U.S. utilities, the International Energy Agency estimates. Half of that will come from renewable. A gigawatt is about enough to supply 800,000 homes in the U.S. and a bit less than the capacity of a nuclear reactor.”

Taking the lead, Germany plans to up its already 20% renewables to 35% within the next 8 years.

“Norbert Roettgen, the 46-year-old lawyer who is Merkel’s environment minister and protege, is managing the transition and aims for the nation to generate at least 35 percent of its power from renewables by 2020, up from 20 percent last year. Roettgen seeks 25,000 megawatts of power generated by wind farms in the North Sea and Baltic Sea by 2030, about the same as 25 nuclear power stations. About 200 megawatts of offshore wind plants are working now.”

Germany’s $263 Billion Renewables Shift Biggest Since War

Don’t get left behind, windy.

Let’s make that,

“Worldwide, over the next couple decades, at least $10 trillion is needed to add 5.9 TERAwatts of electric power, & at least half will likely be renewable.”

That’s almost 3,000 Gigawatts (~3 Terawatts) of renewable, clean energy installations, mostly wind & solar, over the next 20 years or so.

Personally, once we get the denial behind us & really get rolling, it’ll more likely be closer to 75%, or 4,500 Gigawatts of clean, renewable, mostly wind & solar generated electric power.

That was George Bush, not Obama who started that venture.

But I’m glad you pointed out that it has nothing to do with solar par se, and more to do with manufacturing competition.

Come to think about it… Obama inherited an awful lot of issues from Bush.

… Michael Mann shouldn’t have called that directory on his hard disk ‘censored’.

I don’t know Chris. Should the scientific literature really have its allowable language circumscribed by the political sphere? Is that compatible with academic independence?

It’s not scientists’ job to ‘convince’ anyone. It’s their proper job, backed up by things like tenure, to tell it like it is. It’s about time citizens take some responsibility.

For the most part scientists aren’t trying to convince anyone of anything, except maybe other scientists.  (These days there seems to be more coming out with climate scientist bashing, but its pretty unusual to to drag them out of their ivory towers.)

Ultimately if it were a PR issue, then the one’s with a glad hand, a smile, and an advertising budget would be the winners and facts would be out the window.

It would appear that this is the technique being used by the skeptics, and the results ain’t right.

On the other hand perhaps communication should be a subject being taught to scientists, or certainly required for senior ones.

And that’s the problem. Clearly, many more scientists must learn the confidence of good communication skills & use them to timely inform & alert the public, as a responsible primary care physician should a chain smoker with COPD.

Chris in all seriousness do you really believe that framing will matter when it comes to asking Americans to forgo their sovereignty? Secondly I know that lawyers have been preparing for years to battle against transnational progressivism. It just isn’t going to happen in the USA son. You would be better off spending time and energy on technical solutions that would be acceptable to the economies of wealthy nations. Maybe target black carbon aerosols first to stop the polar ice melt to buy more time for developing CO2 absorption technology or better solutions to increase surface albedo until we can transition to lower carbon energy.

If not, then the economists better factor in the cost of a civil war here in the USA in assessing the cost of climate change mitigation, because ceding sovereignty to the crooks involved in the UN, will never ever, ever, ever be acceptable to Americans who are not political progressives, which is most Americans.  Plus, I’m sure the Republicans would love you to push your agenda of giving up sovereignty to progressive Euro eco-extremists who are writing laws to endow vegetables with legal rights. Good luck with that!  :-)

Framing makes all the difference.  As does use of buzz words.

Transmeta was unable to raise Venture Capital funds until they coined the phrase ‘Code Morphing’.  It was just too complicated to describe what made their processor different.  When they first used the term ‘Code Morphing’ it was a matter of minutes before the VCs started using the term themselves.  Then the money flowed.

You do raise interesting issues about sovereignty, and this isn’t the first time the US’s interests have clashed with foreign values.

I would respectfully point out that the value of the United States has been dwindling steadily for 60 years.  Where the US controlled 50% of the world’s wealth after WWII, it now controls 20% (?).

The United States is no longer the dominant super power it thinks it is.  Its just a team member that is getting dragged along against its will.  By the way this is the reason Paul Martin (Canadian Liberal PM) created the G20, and invited the US to join along.

Personally I’ve been swayed away from Global Carbon Trading by conservative values.  (I like the idea, but we’ll just ship money away from ourselves and not do ourselves any good.  And yes it does look like a socialist plot.  I can see that.)

If you want to see an American Capitalist Selfish solution to climate change watch what James Hansen has to say about it.

Bill Gates has other ideas about hwo R&D dollars should be applied; (And you would be a complete ‘tard to call him a socialist green shill);

> I would respectfully point out that the value of the United States has been dwindling
> steadily for 60 years.  Where the US controlled 50% of the world’s wealth after WWII,
> it now controls 20% (?).

I’m not sure about the numbers, but yes, the economic clout of the US (and the Western world) is on the way down. By 2050 latest the Asian big powers will be calling the shots. And they won’t be kindly disposed to those that put the world in the mess that will by then be abundantly clear to anyone.

Can you say punitive import duties on American/Western export products graded by carbon footprint? (And yes, this includes services containing the carbon footprint of the work force.)


I can’t even remember where I heard those numbers.

But I do believe that they are guiding Obama.

“By 2050 latest the Asian big powers will be calling the shots. And they won’t be kindly disposed to those that put the world in the mess that will by then be abundantly clear to anyone.”

China is already consuming 3 times as much coal as the USA. Co2 emissions in China are already twice that of the USA and scientists have estimated that China will produce 4 times as much CO2 as the USA before 2020. Why do you think China misled President Obama at COP-15 and then did a 180 and said they would not agree to CO2 emissions targets at COP-16?  The USA is far more wealthy in food and energy resources than China or any Asian country and unlike China the USA isn’t outstripping its resources with population growth the way China is.

Seriously people, it’s not only the Tea Partyists that are averse to world governance. Go back and look at the comment section of the Scientific American article. Clearly almost everyone that took the time to comment had something to say against the idea.

I do agree with Chris on quite a few points, a rarity for me, but I also thought Wendy’s realistic assessment was worthwhile too if just a bit strongly worded. I’m not sure why that was voted down so quickly.

“Wendy’s realistic assessment was worthwhile”

I’ve seen Windy being called “Wendy” a few times now. Maybe I missed an alternate name Windy goes by in other comments, or some people translate New Zealander accents into writing?


The Forbes article characterizes the Science article authors as mostly “policy experts,” and a check of those affiliated with US universities confirms that. An economist; a Ph.D in urban planning; a geographer; a gaggle of political scientists. What they have in common is an advocacy of supra-national governmental institutions. These folks aren’t climate scientists, or scientists at all, really. You may have a point about scientists’ communications skills…but this article is a bad example, because it’s not a communication by scientists, and it’s not fundamentally about science; it’s political advocacy, written by a group of political scientists/policy wonks with an agenda.

science was used to descibe knowledge about the world including the human aspects.  So in that wider sense, the report writers are all scientists.

Global Warming, as per its name, is a global problem. Somehow the communication has to address this, politesse or otherwise. If the US or China continue to sit out of the “solutioneering” around GHG pollution/remediation, little can be done in the short and mid terms. As we know, if Hansen et al. are correct and the WSJ wrong, we’re doomed.

As for the US not being progressive (as some commentors here assert and cable news cycles insist), that may well be so in a strict sense yet, but perhaps not in the way alot of people assume: 

1. Most US citizens acknowledge Global Warming as a problem – 62%

2. Most US citizens support a 1% tax – 60%

3. Most US citizens support the EPA – 63%

4. Most citizens oppose the Citizens United Decision –70%

5. Most citizens support SS, Medicare (too many to cite, but admittedly “support” of this means many things to many people)

6. Most citizens reject DOMA – 54% with only 34% in favor.

Points 1-3 suggest that using a Pigovian Tax and/or a Cap and Trade (as devised by self-described free market economic thinkers) would indeed find a broad base of support, among voters coming of age now and the general public. The difficult step is eliminating alot of the noise from the signal without being shrill or arrogant. No doubt application of new methods from communication science is key here.

Point 4 indicates that US citizens know votes are being purchased, but realize the Supreme Court is beyond any real, direct, popular influence.

So while the conventional wisdom (Thomas Friedman, most of the Washington Post, Fox News, WSJ) is that the US is mostly a conservative nation – it really isn’t. The News Corporation cognition drivers are effective. (Murdoch’s big idea: if you control most of the English Speaking Media, you control most of the English Speaking Media, and thats alot of control over alot of levers of global power).

So the points about communication are key. But the problems, while not intractable, are very large, given the way mass media platforms are operated and deployed in order to influence opinion on single issues like AGW to the extent of causing voters to abandon larger perspectives for future generations. And indeed in many cases vote against their own publically affirmed self interests.

Defense of Marriage Act. An outlier I know – but I added it simply to note that the notion that the US is mostly conservative can’t even be established on defining marriage as only between a man and woman, which if the US were so stoutly so, surely we would find at least 66% or better, a supermajority if you will.

Thank you.

“Is it enough for a scientist simply to publish a paper? Isn’t it a responsibility of scientists, if you believe that you have found something that can affect the environment, isn’t it your responsibility to actually do something about it, enough so that action actually takes place?… If not us, who? If not now, when?” – F. Sherwood Rowland

The Passing of F. Sherwood Rowland