Tag Archives: society

“Coal. Guns. Freedom”: Facts Fail Climate Comms


Facts alone are failing in the war on climate change communication. Instead, to truly engage, we need to share experience. Without the privilege of person-person contact, this can still be achieved remotely by inspiring others through art, to create their own experiences.

Understanding arising from experience is far more powerful than factual knowledge alone. This has been known for aeons and yet we are still failing to connect people to their environment in a way that persuades them to protect, rather than destroy, something that they are part of.

The Problem

Yesterday’s US mid-term elections are a prime example of the conservation movement’s failure “to move” the voter. To quote Brad Plumber at Vox:

Republican Mitch McConnell's re-election slogan. And it worked...

Republican Mitch McConnell’s re-election slogan. And it worked…

You had billionaire Tom Steyer spending $67 million trying to convince voters to care about global warming. You had the League of Conservation Voters pouring in another $25 million, more than in the previous two elections combined. All the while, some outlets were suggesting that recent natural disasters — from Hurricane Sandy two years ago to the ongoing drought in the West — just might push climate issues to the fore”.

Yet despite these efforts – based on pushing facts and reason – Republicans won control of the Senate by a ‘slam dunk’. The now Republican Majority leader of the Senate, Mitch McConnell, was re-elected on the back of the campaign motto “Coal. Guns. Freedom”. Recent polls show that only 36% of Republicans consider the environment an important issues, compared to 69% Democrats.

This is just days after Europe’s leaders compromised heavily on Climate Targets for 2030. While Angela Merkel was pushing for higher energy efficiency and emissions reduction targets, eastern European countries and the UK negotiated downwards. (See end results here).  The eastern countries’ unfounded fear of limiting potential economic growth is understandable, but the UK’s goading by UKIP is not. The fact that the UK government is being pushed around by a minority party on the right, who has less democratic representation than any party (including the Greens) on the left, shows a failure of imagination in communication. Arguably, this is the failure of everyone who believes in more social equality – but the environmental lobby can’t escape unscathed.

Bored Board by NaBHaN

Bored Board by NaBHaN

The facts that we’re pushing just aren’t being taken on board by a bored audience.

The Answer
Help is at hand from ancient wisdom – wisdom stretching from China dating over two millennia ago, to the surprising sagacity of Hollywood today:

  • “What I hear, I forget. What I see, I remember. What I do, I understand.”
    Xunzi, Chinese Confucian Philosopher, 340-245 BC.
  • The only kind of learning which significantly influences behavior is self-discovered or self-appropriated learning – truth that has been assimilated in experience. – Carl Rogers, American Psychologist, 1902-1987 AD.
  • Fictional Psychologist Sean Maguire, Good Will Hunting, 1998.

But how to share experience?



Unfortunately, environmentalists can’t physically connect everyone to their outside world. We can’t stage other peoples’ journeys of discovery, helping them realise how our interconnected nature means that their actions are affect all of life, and how they can positively affect others by making some different choices.

We don’t have enough time, power, nor moral right, to directly force everyone to this understanding directly.


I know where I’d like to be! Tannenwald (c) Gustav Klimt

But as human beings, we do have the unique ability to inspire. While a small number of species outside H. Sapiens may demonstrate culture, none have been able to express themselves as complexly as we have. Art, in all its forms is an expression of humanity and helps individuals share experiences through a remote medium.

While we seem to be unique in our ability to destroy, the human race is unique in its ability to create and imagine.

My argument is that environmental communicators now need to harness this power. Artists have always been inspired by nature, as have scientists. We now need to bring these two groups together to inspire others in the truth that surrounds them.


C’mon Nige. Join the Love In.

An age old message for Nige.

An age old message for Nige.


“Scandal is gossip made tedious by morality” wrote Oscar Wilde. Let’s hope we’re not stuck with gossip. NHS care abuse, MPs lobbying, MPs’ expenses, tax evasion by multinationals – all reported scandals undermining the integrity of our society; all situations … Continue reading

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Marine conservation gets political: the FishFight March in Pictures.


Emma Mclaren behind the Greenpeace folks as we gather in front of the London Eye.



Myself & Emma with some friendly sea creatures.


Innovative jellyfish costume.


Elisabeth Whitebread from Pew as a mackerel!



Jack Clarke, the coordinator of the UK’s first ever Community Supported Fishery, Catchbox, and a very nice man dressed as a crab.


Cara Batt from The Wildife Trusts as we wait for Hugh FW.


And Hugh’s Up!


The groups behind #127march


Many dressed the part!


1500-2000 came to the rally.

What Americans think of Climate Change

America on Climate Change

America on Climate Change – CO2 (c) Solar Feed

Following on from my recent post about what the Brits think about climate change – herewith the results of a poll assessing opinions from across the pond; specifically Generation X.

Just to clear up any confusion – Generation X does not in fact refer to a highly adaptable group of select yet persecuted individuals – merely US citizens between 32 and 52 years old.

The two most interesting tables are summarised below – and the full report, written by Jon D Miller at the University of Michigan, can be downloaded here.

Table 1: Concern and Sense of Understanding of Climate Issues: 2009,  2011.
Climate change issue
2009 2011
How closely do you follow climate change? Very closely 4% 2%
Moderately closely 18 14
Occassionally 32 33
Not closely 45 51
Level of Concern High concern (8-10) 23 22
Moderate (5-7) 39 42
Less concern (0-4) 38 37
Level of Issue Understanding Well informed (8-10) 16 11
Moderately informed (5-7) 42 47
Less informed (0-4) 42 42
Number of respondents each year 3074 2914
Table 2: The Attitudes of Generation X on Climate Issues, 2011
Agree                                                                          Disagree
0-1 2-3 4-5-6 7-8 9-10
If the present rate of coal and oil use continues, serious long-term and environmental damage will occur. 3% 6% 38% 27% 26%
We are already in the first stages of global warming and climate change 9 8 48 21 14
The primary human activity that causes global warmin is the burning of fossil fules such as coal and oii 7 8 52 22 11
In the next 20 years, the conversion of green plants into fuels will significantly reduced our dependence on gas and oil. 6 9 56 20 9
There is not enough scientific evidence to support claims that the Earth is getting warmer. 19 15 46 11 9
All tablulations are based on 2,924 responses.
*Individuals responding that they were not sure about any statement were assigned a value of 5 and placed in the middle group.

Views on climate change not affected by economy


This Guardian/ICM poll shows people’s attitudes to climate change and Rio+20.

Perceptions about the reality of climate change have changed little, despite the downfall in the economy. This is shown by a comparison of this poll with one conducted in 2009 (just before the Copenhagen Climate Conference). In 2009, 56% of respondents believed that climate change was real & man made; in 2012, this figure was 57%.

For full information – check the link here


Occupy London – 23rd Nov 2011

This gallery contains 6 photos.

As I wandered across to my wedding venue once upon a winter’s morn …

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