Guest essay by Eric Worrall
A group of climate researchers have made the shocking discovery, that telling people everyone is going to die from the apocalyptic effects of manmade climate change, and that the only hope is for them personally to join a local group of activists who hope to influence the direction of the Washington juggernaut, makes normal people feel depressed and unmotivated.
According to the Huffington Post;
Why Climate Change Rhetoric Simultaneously Succeeds and Fails
Despite mounting evidence about the threats posed by climate change, most Americans do not consider it to be a very important problem facing the country, nor are they engaged in large-scale advocacy efforts to address it.
What might be done? An increasingly common argument, backed both by intuition and social science research, is that rhetoric should highlight how climate change will personally affect Americans’ lives. Among the most common “personal relevance” frames are those that focus on how it might impact personal health or make it more difficult for people to obtain the food that they need.
It turns out that these personal relevance messages have the opposite effect from what we might expect: Although they do increase people’s concern about climate change, they actually reduce their willingness to advocate on the issue.
Framing climate change in terms of its effect on either personal health or food security reminds people that very important personal goals (staying healthy and eating well) will be difficult to achieve. It puts them in a bad mood, and when people are in a bad mood they are less willing to engage in collective advocacy efforts.
A senior political campaign manager once explained the rules of negative campaigning to me. You don’t distribute negative leaflets to your supporters, you distribute negative leaflets in areas which vote for the opposition, to make them feel disengaged with the political process, and stop them from wanting to vote. The fact hardcore greens seem to have trouble grasping this obvious principle, of how normal people’s minds work, makes me really wonder what is happening inside their heads.