Mar 16, 2010 01:00 PM in Basic Science | 82 comments

"Neuroframing" the global warming issue won't win converts

By John Horgan


Last week the Garrison Institute, a retreat center just a few miles down the Hudson River from my home, hosted an impressivesymposium on “Climate, Mind and Behavior.” An organizer made the mistake of inviting me to the meeting’s wrap-up session Friday.

As a brochure put it, the symposium brought together 75 “thought leaders and practitioners from the fields of neuro, behavioral and evolutionary economics, psychology, policy, investing and social media to explore how to integrate emerging knowledge on the key drivers of behavior into solutions for solving the world’s most pressing problem: climate change.”

Excerpt:  Not all global-warming skeptics are ignorant, irrational idiots. I teach at an engineering school, and about one third of my students identify themselves as global-warming skeptics. They tend to know more about global warming than students who accept it as a fact. Two sources at the Science Times section of the New York Times have told me that a majority of the section's editorial staff doubts  that human-induced global warming represents a serious threat to humanity.

As naïve as this may sound, I believe environmentalists should try to influence public opinion by laying out the facts as clearly and honestly as possible and refraining from rhetorical trickery. Inconvenient Truth was a framing masterpiece, but Al Gore’s linkage of global warming to Katrina, however qualified, has made it easier for wackos to  claim that single weather events, like the big blizzards that struck Washington, D.C., this winter, contradict global warming. Climategate showed that some climatologists have become so obsessed with framing that they have harmed their credibility.
Joseph Truss
Team Syntegrity International AG/ Metaphorum / Abbey North Drummers

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