Robb Willer, social psychologist at the University of California, Berkeley, says that “dire predictions about global warming, especially when they are not accompanied by a clear solution, usually backfire, undermining the intended effect of the overall message.”
“In effect, the warnings make some people less amenable to reducing their carbon footprint.” So more social research that supports the claims of our old friends, Nordhaus and Shellenberger.
“The scarier the message, the more people who are committed to viewing the world as fundamentally stable and fair are motivated to deny it,” says Matthew Feinberg, a doctoral student in psychology at the University of California, Berkeley.
But if scientists and advocates can communicate their findings in less apocalyptic ways and present solutions to global warming, researchers say, most people can get past their skepticism.
And, what spells fundamental stability better than reaching for the switch on your personal computer and coal-fired electrons hastening to do your bidding without complaint? “Just had 1 hour power outage on cold night with strong wind. Without power, everything stops, including heat, and even worse, WiFi,” reports Politics in the Zeros blogger Bob Morris.
The utility companies play upon such concerns. As this blog has noted before, the inference is that renewable energy is somehow unreliable. Whereas coal ash impoundments are something upon which we should rely? That’s MBM (Male Bovine Manure), Clem.
Meanwhile, the deceivers extensively fund denial. Here, for instance, are some Treehugger posts that describe Dirty Tricks by those who oppose efforts to mitigate GHG emissions:
- The 8 Dirtiest Tricks by Foes of Clean Energy Reform
- Ten Dirty Things About Big King Coal
- Dirty Clean Coal Lobby Gave $240000 to Obama Presidential Campaign
- Revealed: 5 “Grassroots” Groups Funded by Dirty Energy
- Clean Coal Carolers from an Industry Run By Morons
If electric utilities were to take responsibility for global climate disruption, then we would see greater effort to reduce emissions and not denying accountability for, nor the high societal cost of, those emissions.
A key part of the deception is Astroturf-ing. A recent example is whistle blower Wendell Potter explaining to Amy Goodman how health insurers astro-turfed to “throw Michael off the cliff“. As Reddit contributor Burbulous observed, “This year I stopped thinking so much about liberals vs. conservatives and started framing the conflict more as people vs. corporations. That certainly made more sense. [it explains] how health care and global warming shook out.”
And, it is more than that. It is sizable advertising bought to insure that reporters don’t question the sources, and sizable campaign contributions to make sure that our “elected” representatives don’t question their ethics.