Can climate science be rendered conservative-friendly?

Much research has gone into how to effectively communicate the facts of Climate Change to conservatives.

David Roberts points out why Republicans can't face Climate Change and take effective action. It's an existential crisis for them. No communication strategy could work.

... it is worth asking: Could climate hawks have made a pitch that appealed to conservatives? Is there such a pitch available today?

It’s not clear to me that what passes for conservatism today could possibly accommodate the real facts on global warming; those facts carry implications that would do considerable violence to the conservative worldview.

Over the last 20 to 30 years, the right has gotten more and more tribal, ideologically homogenous, and extreme. (See, for the gazillionth time, asymmetrical polarization.)

Today it’s: Congress is full of socialists. Today it’s: Any cooperation with Democrats or Obama, on anything, is disqualifying. Today it’s: Shut down the government or default on U.S. debt unless Obama agrees to defund a democratically passed healthcare law.

... quoted Thomas Mann and Norm Ornstein... "... the Republican Party, has become a resurgent outlier: ideologically extreme; contemptuous of the inherited social and economic policy regime; scornful of compromise; un-persuaded by conventional understanding of facts, evidence, and science; and dismissive of the legitimacy of its political opposition."

The main point stressed by Nisbet and Maibach ... is that descriptions of the problem should be paired with solutions so as not to overwhelm people or make them fatalistic. What solutions?

What do all these empowering solutions have in common? They rely on active government policy — incentives and regulations and mandates and standards. I encourage you to head over to a popular conservative website like National Review and propose policies to “make public transportation more accessible and affordable.” See how far that gets you. As Chris Hayes stressed the other day, conservatives are hostile climate science in part because they hate all the climate solutions. So: if you only stress the problem, you shut people down; if you stress solutions, you shut conservatives down. See the Catch 22?

... I just don’t think there’s any way to make the facts of climate change congenial to the contemporary U.S. conservative perspective. Once they accept the facts, the severity and urgency of the climate crisis, they are committed to either a) supporting vigorous government policy meant to diminish the power of some of their wealthiest constituents, or b) passively accepting widespread suffering.

Cognitively speaking, that’s an untenable position for them. That’s why they avoid it by rejecting the science. There’s no way to package the science in a way that avoids this dilemma. It is today’s hyper-conservatism, not climate communications, that is ultimately going to have to change.

...The anti-government dogma of contemporary conservatives isn’t just ill-suited to climate change. It’s ill-suited to modernity, to the 21st century. The problems that face humanity now are transnational, incremental, and complex (think, e.g., global pandemics) and will inevitably require active national governments and some form of global cooperation. The paranoid revanchism of today’s American right is a relic, a circus act, not a serious response to the world we live in. That is not the responsibility of climate hawks and there’s little they can do to change it, no matter how they communicate. [emphasis mine, see "revanchism" definition below]

image source

As we 're running out of time, Republican hyper-conservatism is likely to push the planet over the tipping point into uninhabitability.


Definition of revanchism.

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Replies to This Discussion

Let's face facts. We should have started changing from fossil fuel energy to solar and other renewable and sustainable sources of energy 30 years ago because we could have done it incrementally. It is too late for that now. The science is clear, regardless of what some claim. Those who claim we need more oil and coal are those who benefit by extracting the energy from the ground and selling it, at ever higher prices, to the public that is bought and the branches of government that have been bought. 

Any sensible person knows we are in for very hard times as we transition into lowering CO2 emissions, and the people who will gain with each last drop of vacuumed energy out of the Earth will continue to gain in wealth and influence until the last drop is out of the ground and going up in smoke in our cars, factories, and buildings or until we destroy the planet for living forms. What will the wealthy do when the Earth is not inhabitable? Where will they go for fresh air, clean water, and energy that is not polluting?

Sadly, it is the poor that will suffer the most. They have no back-up plan, no money to execute it if they did, and no delusional daddy to save them for an afterlife. 

Conservative Republicans have joined the crowd of believers in creating supply for an unreasonable demand for fossil fuel and refuse to recognize it until contamination is over the tipping point with no possibility of restoring life as we know it. They probably have their gated communities planned to be shielded from the effects of their folly. What will they do when there is no one to repair their cars, build their houses, grow their food, supply their water, keep the air breathable?  

Robert Rubin describes Climate Change in language that Republicans can hear.

"We face a choice between protecting our economy by protecting our environment − or allowing environmental havoc to create economic havoc.”

Robert Rubin: Costs of ignoring climate change are catastrophic

The impact of climate change will hit the 1% sooner or later.  Those who choose to be myopic about it will be blindsided and deservedly so.  Others who can recognize that the light at the end of the tunnel IS an oncoming train will have the sense to plan accordingly.

Side note: there was an interesting piece on CBS News 60 Minutes yesterday about the Tabasco sauce business and how it is run.  Toward the end of the story, they talked about how Tabasco restored the marsh grasses around the island where its headquarters is located because those marshes protect their site from heavy weather.  A simple thing, perhaps, but it is that kind of thinking that we need to get those who can't see the forest for all them pesky trees to consider.




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