Climate Science as Culture War | Stanford Social Innovation Review

Posted by on Aug 16, 2012 in Education, Insights & Reflections, Social | No Comments

“The public debate around climate change is no longer about science—it’s about values, culture, and ideology.”

The article is one of many articles and books I’ve been reading that are beginning to talk about “why” there is such a divide in so many important topics today. The simple answer is that they have become topics rooted in emotion, values and morals instead of fact or science. Because of that it has become increasingly harder for either side of a debate to listen to and consider the others POV.

We need to reframe the debate from being a science issues to being an issue that challenges our cultural and contemporary worldviews. Once you do that new approaches to discussing and solving the issue become clear.

Two of the 8 solutions the article provides are extremely relevant to strategic communication design. Here is a summary of both:

Focus on broker firms: “People interpret information by fitting it to preexisting narratives or issue categories that mesh with their worldview.

Specific broker frames can be used that engage the interests of both sides of the debate. For example, When Pope Benedict XVI linked the threat of climate change with threats to life and dignity on New Year’s Day 2010, he was painting it as an issue of religious morality. When CNA’s Military Advisory Board, a group of elite retired US military officers, called climate change a “threat multiplier” in its 2006 report, it was using a national security frame.”

Recognize the power of language and terminology: “Words have multiple meanings in different communities, and terms can trigger unintended reactions in a target audience. For example, one study has shown that Republicans were less likely to think that the phenomenon is real when it is referred to as “global warming” (44 percent) rather than “climate change” (60 percent), but Democrats were unaffected by the term (87 percent vs. 86 percent).”

The need to understand how our audience talks, feels and believes is critical in this debate. I think we can apply a lot of what we learned with Access Effect—the power that human stories have to help people understand and relate to a topic—to this project.

Climate Science as Culture War | Stanford Social Innovation Review.

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