By Steve McCann
A good indicator that a movement ostensibly based on so-called scientific facts has run out of steam is when that crusade must openly resort to crass marketing techniques to sell a flawed product. As with so many iconic beliefs of the left, it is not the message that is flawed, but the messaging.
Der Speigel, the paragon of leftist thinking in Germany, just published a lengthy article, entitled "Green Groups try to Sex Up Climate Change," chronicling the movement's efforts to recapture the public's attention, which has severely waned over the past two years.
Editors at major German newspapers are openly stating that global warming is a "loser" in media terms. The New York Times quoted one science filmmaker as calling climate research "bo-ho-ho-ring" and "quite possibly, THE most boring subject the science world has ever had to present to the public."
Surveys have shown that in the Netherlands, once the hotbed of global warming hysteria, only one in three Dutch people is concerned about climate change. The number is half that in the United States.
The loss of credibility is attributed to two factors: 1) the mistakes made public around a year ago on the U.N.'s 2007 climate report and 2) the "Climategate" scandal involving e-mails from the researchers at the University of East Anglia. Per Der Speigel, "[t]his leaked correspondence revealed trench warfare that caused scientists to withhold some data and defend their results at all costs."
As the primary media strategy up to that time was centered on the credibility of the scientists involved, the PR damage was significant, and it caused the public to begin seriously questioning the validity of the movement.
So now the environmental activists, not willing to give up on an enormous source of money from government grants and extortion, have come up with a myriad of approaches to try to make the climate change argument attractive. Some ideas are:
- Greater emphasis on emotional messaging using animals such as polar bears and whales and people suffering the results of weather catastrophes. An old but tried-and-true PR strategy that has lost its luster, but it is very difficult to give up.
- Another old but successful tactic: sex sells. At a recent Global Media Forum working group on climate change, the motto was "Climate change is sexy." However, there is some argument that the attention would be on the shapely figure of an attractive female researcher standing in front of a glacier rather than on the message.
- Climate activists have begun funneling millions of dollars into training programs for so-called environmental journalists to encourage even more advocacy journalism. Apparently all the rest of us were foolish to believe there was nearly nothing but advocacy journalism in the mainstream media throughout the world.
- Climate change discussion must become less abstract and come down to the level of the average person. In other words, make it relevant in the day-to-day life of the individual by simplification and promotion along with easily understood solutions. Whether these are genuine solutions is immaterial as long as they are presented with all the fanfare of being so.
- Stop being so vocal and causing a commotion about climate change. Instead, emphasize restraint and the ability to quietly and respectfully listen to opposing views. A bit of acting talent may be required, but that should not be a problem when reading from a fictional script.
- The movement needs a new "Messiah." Al Gore has become yesterday's newspaper in the bottom of the birdcage, so someone has to be found who can arouse the masses -- per Andreas Ernst from Kassel University, "[j]ust as Martin Luther King Jr. awakened the civil rights movement." Comparing every political crusade to the civil rights movement has become transparent and threadbare, but this is apparently a strategy from which the left cannot emancipate itself.
- Lastly, climate researchers have started setting up new organizations that will communicate climate data better. Coordination of messaging will be the order of the day. The accuracy of the messaging has not been discussed.
So there you have it: soon we who are agnostics when it comes to the religion of global warming (now renamed "climate change") will be subjected to the best marketing strategy the human mind can devise. As Europe shivers in the coldest winter in over 125 years and we see the wealth of the country squandered in foolish regulations and laws ostensibly geared to save the earth, we can be comforted in knowing the best and brightest are on the job to save the planet from itself. We were foolish enough to believe that only God could do that.