Media sites around the web were buzzing last week about a study that supposedly found that scary doom-and-gloom talk about global warming was counterproductive. I had some concerns about this “finding” when I saw the headlines popping up and assumed this was probably a generalization we shouldn’t be making, that the study probably had significant limitations, but I didn’t dig into it or cover the story myself. You have to pick your battles.
However, leading climate change blogger Joe Romm, Ph.D., did dig into the study and found that this widespread conclusion was a little too… widespread. Well, basically, he found the conclusion was way off.
“Ahh, if only people would actually read the entire study, including the crucial supplementary material, before explaining its supposedly deeper meaning, one that just happens to fit their preconceived notions,” Dr. Romm wrote.
As we will see, this study, if it proves anything, finds that the strongest possible science-based messaging is effective. Climate hawks should feel confident explaining to the public as clearly as possible the dire consequences if we fail to take action to reduce emissions together with the myriad cost-effective solutions available today that make averting catastrophe so damn cheap compared to the alternative.
Dr. Romm got into more detail regarding climate change messaging and this study out of UC-Berkeley in his post on this story. Worth checking out: Dire straits: Media blows the story of UC Berkeley study on climate messaging.
And just as a closing statement, I think one thing is clear, whether a study shows it or not: with catastrophic climate change that threatens almost all the basic necessities of life inevitable if we don’t get our act together soon, sticking our head in the sand or telling people it’s okay to do so is NOT a good option.
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Photo Credit: blakeimeson via flickr (CC license)
I agree with this piece. As a soil scientist I am alarmed at the rate of increase in permafrost melting and see a positive feedback kicking in, fast. I believe it to be our duty as scientists for go shout it on the mountains for this is going to hit us and hit us fast. We are woefully underprepared and uneducated.