Blog Nation presentation
I was at the excellent Blog Nation conference in London this weekend, organised by Liberal Conspiracy. While I think it’s hugely important that tackling climate change shouldn’t be seen as a party political, or a left/right issue, the conference was a good opportunity for leftish bloggers and campaigners to talk about plans for the next few months and years.
Sunny at Liberal Conspiracy was kind enough to give me a platform to garble at the conferees for a few minutes, and here’s the short presentation I put together:
The gist of my argument (going with the slides above) was:
There are two major issues in public perceptions of climate change in the UK at the moment. The first is to do with understanding and enthusiasm/engagement. While climategate etc has only had a fairly limited impact on perceptions, and while only very few are convinced that man-made climate change isn’t happening, as many as two-thirds are unconvinced that climate change is a big issue. This is a substantial proportion, suggesting a widespread lack of enthusiasm among the public about the issue.
The second challenge is to do with who the public are hearing about climate change from. At least in the UK, politicians are the group who are most visible talking about climate change, but they’re also the most distrusted. So even where people are generally quite willing to take action, or make lifestyle changes, to deal with climate change, they’re very suspicious when they hear politicians saying that they should do so.
This led to a couple of suggestions, both building on the need for more communication from non-politicians. Firstly, climate campaigners would do well to be much quicker off the mark in responding to challenges to climate science. The lifespan of the climate science stories over the last few months could have been significantly shorter if those who understand the science had been more effective at rebutting the wilder claims.
But this is only part of the story. So long as the conversation about climate change continues to focus on whether or not the public think that man-made climate change is happening, it’s not focusing on discussing what climate change means, and what the solutions should be. So the aim for climate campaigners over the next few months should be to move the conversation beyond the ‘belief’ issue, and onto impact and policies.