Marketing climate science to influence public opinion

There's an article in the NYTimes.com about a report about to be issued relating to the way global warming issues are discussed in public forums. I don't think I totally understand what the report says, and I guess we'll see when it is officially released, but I think the take-home message is going to be that we have to use marketing techniques to convince the public that climate change is an important issue. This is a direct (and obvious) reaction to the tactics of the right-wing conservatives, who use exactly the same thinking when issuing their talking points. 

For my $0.02, I don't like it. I'm not opposed to more effective communication and education techniques, I'm actually all for them. To change the focus of the arguments, however, to avoid using words like "environment" and "global warming" seems to be a big much. I do agree that making the link between renewable energy sources and a more productive and cleaner future is great, as is the flip side of linking dirty fossil fuels to a poorer and scarier future. But from my point of view, we should focus on rational thought and scientific findings to guide us, and not marketing chatter. 

Of course, that's why I'm a scientist and not an marketing professional. Which brings up another point, that is sometimes overlooked. Who's delivering this message to the public? It is often scientists themselves, and this is a mistake. Scientists have a particular culture, and the way we communicate is often not the most effective way to convey things to an impatient public. Sure there are some really great popularizers of science, and they are invaluable to both the scientific community and the general public. But when it comes to convincing "Joe the plumber" that the government needs to take action on climate change, it's hard to imagine that Jim Hansen or even the late greats Carl Sagan or Richard Feynman could have had much influence. No, at a certain point this leaves the realm of the scientists, and needs to be handled by professionals. I don't know who these people are, or what their motives and incentives to popularize the rational views on climate policy will be, but I do know that scientists only stand to screw it up... we've all seen scientists trying to talk to the public, and more often than not it doesn't go well.

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