Well, well, well.
There's this group called "futerra". Cute little name play there: future terra, the future of the earth.
According to their web site:
Futerra is the sustainability communications agency; from green to ethical, climate change to corporate responsibility. For over eight years we've helped you save the world.
They put together a little pamphlet called "The Rules of the Game".
Why were the principles created?
The game is communicating climate change; the rules will help us win it.
These principles were created as part of the UK Climate Change Communications Strategy, an evidence-based strategy aiming
to change public attitudes towards climate change in the UK. This is a 'short version' of a far longer document of evidence that can be found at www.defra.gov.uk. There is plenty of evidence relating to attitudes towards and behaviour on climate change, general environmental behaviour change and the whole issue of sustainable development communication. As we reviewed the research for these principles, one 'überprinciple' emerged: "Changing attitudes towards climate change is not like selling a particular brand of soap – it's like convincing someone to use soap in the first place." At first glance, some of the principles may seem counter-intuitive to those who have been working on sustainable development or climate change communications for many years. Some confront dearly cherished beliefs about what works; a few even seem to attack the values or principles of sustainable development itself.
However, these principles are a first step to using sophisticated behaviour change modelling and comprehensive evidence from
around the world to change attitudes towards climate change. We need to think radically, and the Rules of the Game are a sign that future campaigns will not be 'business as usual'. This is a truly exciting moment.
It is an exciting moment, but not for the reasons they may think: this documents the concerted and systematic effort to manipulate the public. This is a clear admittance that the science isn't on their side (if it truly were, then this'd all not be necessary).
Let's think about this for a moment: the push is for an "evidence-based strategy". What is an evidence-based strategy?
Well, there's a link above to the Department Environment, Food and Rural Affairs - what should be a graveyard of technocrats - but seems to be very keen on setting up the end game instead. What do I mean?
According to this, evidence-based policy is basically "based on this evidence, we have to do ... a, b and c". It's all about replacing political policy with one that reduces political choice of how to handle problems. Politics basically becomes irrelevant: it makes no difference whether conservatives or social democrats are in power, the important thing is that the technocrats involved make the decisions "based on evidence" that if a is the problem, you solve the problem by doing b, c or d, but not x, y or z.
But of course that means that the politicians are fundamentally removed from the system, and given the increasing appearance that the AGW data - the evidence - has either been faked, severely distorted or that politics has trumped actual science, this means that someone was trying to cook the evidence to make the policy changes automatic...
There are six major sections. I've reformatted somewhat to make it easier to read, but haven't changed anything else.
1 blowing away myths
Many of the oft-repeated communications methods and messages of sustainable development have been dismissed by mainstream communicators, behaviour change experts and psychologists. Before we go into what works, our principles make a 'clean sweep' of what doesn't:
1. Challenging habits of climate change communication
Don't rely on concern about children's future or human survival instincts Recent surveys show that people without children may care more about climate change than those with children. "Fight or flight" human survival instincts have a time limit measured in minutes – they are of little use for a change in climate measured in years. Don't create fear without agency. Fear can create apathy if individuals have no 'agency' to act upon the threat. Use fear with great caution. Don't attack or criticise home or family It is unproductive to attack that which people hold dear.
2. Forget the climate change detractors
Those who deny climate change science are irritating, but unimportant. The argument is not about if we should deal with climate
change, but how we should deal with climate change.
3. There is no 'rational man'
The evidence discredits the 'rational man' theory – we rarely weigh objectively the value of different decisions and then take the clear self-interested choice.
4. Information can't work alone
Providing information is not wrong; relying on information alone to change attitudes is wrong. Remember also that messages about
saving money are important, but not that important.
The arrogance here is significant and telling: the arrogance is clear and disturbing. There is no rational man: well, there goes the basis for all of economics and a chunk of psychology right there. That is what I mean by arrogant: we are all apparently just a bunch of emoting idiots to be manipulated at will.
2 a new way of thinking
Once we've eliminated the myths, there is room for some new ideas. These principles relate to some of the key ideas emerging
from behaviour change modelling for sustainable development:
5. Climate change must be 'front of mind' before persuasion works
Currently, telling the public to take notice of climate change is as successful as selling tampons to men. People don't realise
(or remember) that climate change relates to them.
6. Use both peripheral and central processing
Attracting direct attention to an issue can change attitudes, but peripheral messages can be just as effective: a tabloid snapshot
of Gwyneth Paltrow at a bus stop can help change attitudes to public transport.
7. Link climate change mitigation to positive desires/aspirations
Traditional marketing associates products with the aspirations of their target audience. Linking climate change mitigation to home
improvement, self-improvement, green spaces or national pride are all worth investigating.
8. Use transmitters and social learning
People learn through social interaction, and some people are better teachers and trendsetters than others. Targeting these
people will ensure that messages seem more trustworthy and are transmitted more effectively.
9. Beware the impacts of cognitive dissonance
Confronting someone with the difference between their attitude and their actions on climate change will make them more likely to change their attitude than their actions.
Telling the public to take notice of climate change is as successful as selling tampons to men.
A telling comparison. Neither are needed.
The rest is the usual marketing messages that any good business school will sell you for a large fee.
3 linking policy and communications
These principles clearly deserve a separate section. All the evidence is clear – sometimes aggressively so – that 'communications in the absence of policy' will precipitate the failure of any climate change communications campaign right from the start:
10. Everyone must use a clear and consistent explanation of climate change
The public knows that climate change is important, but is less clear on exactly what it is and how it works.
11. Government policy and communications on climate change must be consistent
Don't 'build in' inconsistency and failure from the start.
This is nothing less than the call for the repression of dissent and the silencing of critical voices within the community, something that has been seen for years.
4 audience principles
In contrast to the myths, this section suggests some principles that do work. These principles are likely to lead directly to a set of general messages, although each poses a significant implementation challenge:
12. Create 'agency' for combating climate change
Agency is created when people know what to do, decide for themselves to do it, have access to the infrastructure in which to act,
and understand that their contribution is important.
13. Make climate change a 'home' not 'away' issue
Climate change is a global issue, but we will feel its impact at home – and we can act on it at home.
14. Raise the status of climate change mitigation behaviours
Research shows that energy efficiency behaviours can make you seem poor and unattractive. We must work to overcome these
15. Target specific groups
A classic marketing rule, and one not always followed by climate change communications from government and other sources.
Energy efficiency behaviors can make you seem poor and unattractive?
What shale we now expect:: some sexy movies due out now on the flash and style of riding your bike to work? Action films about staying at home for holiday?
5 style principles
These principles lend some guidance on the evidence of stylistic themes that have a high chance of success:
16. Create a trusted, credible, recognised voice on climate change
We need trusted organisations and individuals that the media can call upon to explain the implications of climate change to the
17. Use emotions and visuals
Another classic marketing rule: changing behaviour by disseminating information doesn't always work, but emotions and visuals usually do
In other words, the classic NGO approach: tug on your heartstrings so that we can support our Pringle Brigade members out there padding their resumes!
6 effective management
These principles are drawn primarily from the experience of others, both in their successes and in the problems they faced:
18. The context affects everything
The prioritisation of these principles must be subject to ongoing assessments of the UK climate change situation.
19. The communications must be sustained over time
All the most successful public awareness campaigns have been sustained consistently over many years.
20. Partnered delivery of messages will be more successful
Experience shows that partnered delivery is often a key component for projects that are large, complex and have many stakeholders.
Well, to be honest: this isn't anything new. As a matter of fact, it's pretty much boiler plate Marketing For Idiots prattle with all the right buzz words and key phrases.
But here we thought the image that the AGW folks were trying to put up for public consumption was that of the Noble Scientist warning the masses that Big Business was hiding the true story of how Corporate Greed was destroying Mother Nature.
Instead, they're the ones using the tools of modern marketing to use emotions and manipulation to reach their goals. Ironic, don't you think?