Climate Code Red! Is all “good news” and no “bad news” a good strategy?

April 27, 2012 • Climate Change & Mitigation, Daily Email Recap

Is all “good news” and no “bad news” a good strategy?
by David Spratt / Part 3 of a 5-part series

“If people don’t know there’s a problem, they won’t try to solve it.”
– Bill McKibben

Bright-siding climate advocacy is based on the view that:

  • Only positive “good news” messages work. Don’t mention “bad news” such as climate impacts and don’t communicate the magnitude of the problem, because people can’t deal with it; and
  • The good-news story is first and foremost about “clean” or renewable energy, so construct public messages dominated by renewables and economic benefit, not about about replacing fossil fuels.

An example of trying to avoid “bad news” was the decision by the Australian government not to call the carbon tax a carbon tax.  Instead it used the confusing term, a “price on pollution”. This left the discourse about taxes entirely to opposition leader Tony Abbott, with devastating consequences. And then the government, having avoided the “tax” word, made its core pitch about…  how you will get a personal tax break: “How much support will my family get? Estimate your assistance here…”

If ever there is evidence that “bad news” can work, it is Australian federal opposition leader Tony Abbott’s unrelentingly assault on the Gillard government.

The proposition that only “good news” messages work will be looked at again in Part 5 of this series. Of course, the good news about renewable energy is a key component in engaging people, and in reducing emissions.  As renewables move towards becoming cost competitive with fossil fuel energy sources at a speed unimaginable just a few years ago, it is an even more compelling story. But the point here is that it is not the ONLY story, nor a sufficient one.

Click here to read the full article: http://www.climatecodered.org/2012/04/is-all-good-news-and-no-bad-news-good.html


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