Thursday, January 07, 2010

How Framing Matters to Wider Public Participation on Climate Change

Here's an interesting (if not intuitive) tidbit from Matthew Nisbet of American University, speaking about a lecture titled, 'Framing and Public Engagement on Climate Change' (click here to watch it on video):

At 32 min 40 sec, I discuss current research in collaboration with Ed Maibach and several graduate students that examines the potential to expand public engagement on climate change by emphasizing the public health dimensions of the issue.

Our preliminary analysis finds that when mitigation-related policies are presented in combination with their likely personal and community health benefits, broad sections of Americans respond positively to these suggestions.

It's likely that we have spent too much time and attention on communicating about climate change as an environmental threat and not enough resources on discussing the public health significance of the problem along with the co-benefits to public health that are likely to occur via a range of policy actions, especially at the local level.

Readers of CV Notes will know that this is a point that I emphasize time and time again: we need to communicate the need for climate change solutions in terms that make it very clear how they are immediately relevant to making peoples' daily lives better NOW.

That can mean public health benefits, as the above author suggests, or the types of economic, energy security/freedom from foreign oil, national security benefits that we will realize via the solutions needed to win the battle against climate disruption.

The bottom line is that even for the Flat Earthers who don't accept the science of climate change, it's really really hard to be against the clean energy and energy efficiency solutions needed to solve it.  That's because these policy solutions are crucially important for many other people reasons -- most of which have broad, bi-partisan appeal.

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