Friday, July 29, 2011

Why NOT to fight about climate change "facts"

Do you think Rush Limbaugh is cool? How about George Will? They win the title in a new paper "Cool dudes, hot temps; the climate change battle will get us nowhere."

These characters are cultural "elites" used to getting their way, so why should they be worried about climate change or anything else? The lesson here: you can't win arguing "facts" with one of these "cool dudes." Because ideology trumps facts and their ideology has them feeling secure.

It's the "white male effect," those with power are less worried because they feel like they control their own destiny. So there's no point in arguing facts, it's ideology that has them blithely unconcerned.

From the writeup in BigThink:
What is valuable about this study is what it says not just about conservative white men, but about all of us. This research confirms that who we are as people, at really fundamental levels, has a lot more to do with the way we see things than just the facts. All of us, not just CWMs. And not just on climate change. And what that means is that arguing issues based just on the facts isn‘t going to get us very far, since the facts aren’t really what we’re arguing about in the first place.

Here are a few of the findings (based on analysis of Gallup surveys of public opinion between 2000 and 2010);

--- 14% of the general public doesn’t worry about climate change at all, but among CWMs the percentage jumps to 39%.

--- 32% of adults deny there is a scientific consensus on climate change, but 59% of CWMs deny what the overwhelming majority of the world’s scientists have said.

--- 3 adults in 10 don’t believe recent global temperature increases are primarily caused by human activity. Twice that many - 6 CWMs out of every ten – feel that way

So what is about CWMs that make them see the climate change issue this way? The “Cool Dudes” paper suggests that its partly because they’re WMs, and partly because they are Cs. The so-called “White Male Effect” in risk perception has found that white males between ages 18-59 are generally less afraid of things than white women or people of color of either gender. A famous “White Male Effect” paper suggested Perhaps white males see less risk in the world because they create, manage, control, and benefit from so much of it. Perhaps women and nonwhite men see the world as more dangerous because in many ways they are more vulnerable, because they benefit less from many of its technologies and institutions, and because they have less power and control.”
Makes sense to me. What do we do about this problem?
The solution is obvious, though hardly easy. We have stop making climate change a zero sum if-you-win-I-lose battle. We have to frame the issue in ways that work within everybody’s underlying cultural/tribal perspectives. We have to realize that answers are more likely to be found, and solutions are more likely to be reached, if the goal is finding common ground, to one of the most serious threats humans - all of us - have ever faced.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You are an idiot of the 1st degree. You couldn't hold you own against a cool dude if you studied for years.