Thursday, December 16, 2010

The absence of a positive vision

The ABC site The Drum Unleashed has a contribution from Leigh Ewbank, Director of Public Policy at Beyond Zero Emissions. The article does seem a bit of a PR piece for his organization, but at least readers are told that upfront... unlike many of the aggressive posters at the end of the article who sound like one voice. I have never thought it a constructive tactic to win over someone using words like 'incompetent', 'full of dribble', 'stoned tree-hugging hippies','eco-stalinists' etc.
Doom discourse a barrier to climate action
Leigh Ewbank
While it’s important for the public to be aware of the risks of runaway climate change, focusing narrowly on threats and evoking apocalyptic rhetoric, as Melbourne writer Doug Hendrie did yesterday, is not helpful. It might be good for scaring the general public senseless, but does not create the conditions needed to deliver action on climate change. For that we need a positive vision of our future.

The effect of Hendrie’s apocalyptic rhetoric is to disempower the community, encourage scepticism, and relegate climate change to the too-hard basket. Recent research published by the University of California Berkeley supports this assessment: “Dire messages warning of the severity of global warming and its presumed dangers can backfire, paradoxically increasing skepticism about global warming by contradicting individuals’ deeply-held beliefs that the world is fundamentally just” (PDF).

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