More DEFRA advocacy for climate change

08 Mar

Back in Feb. I posted about how the UK government Agency Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) had asked the UEA specifically for ‘headline’ socio-economic indicators linked to climate change, in order to create ‘public resonance’. I noticed this emphasis on climate change again recently.

After looking around the documents section of the CRU leak/hack, I noticed a few interesting PDFs. Both were made by (or with) DEFRA. The first is named “Your guide to Communicating Climate Change“, and the second is named “Rules of the Game : Evidence base for the Climate Change Communications Strategy” They both are guides for how to communicate the dangers of climate change to others. Let’s look at some excerpts, first from ‘Your Guide‘:

I’m sure that the educated readers who visit climate science blogs won’t need me to tell them that this is terribly inaccurate scientifically. But I will anyways.

“The blanket of gases (not a ‘blanket’) that keeps the surface of the earth warm and able to sustain life is getting thicker (not really), trapping (not ‘trapping’) in more heat. This is caused by the
release of greenhouse gases as we burn fossil fuels for energy and cut
down forests (cutting forests doesn’t release CO2)…Carbon dioxide is the main greenhouse gas (not nearly), (awkward comma) which causes climate change.”

They’ve started off on the wrong foot with poor science. They then reveal what they think of the public:

This is an arrogant and frightening section. First, they claim:

Research shows that among the general public, few people understand what is actually causing climate change.

This assumes that DEFRA fully understands what is “actually causing climate change”, and anyone who disagrees with their complete knowledge, well, they just don’t understand. Arrogant.

It is also frightening:

The first and most important thing is
to change the way people think about
climate change. Then we can try to
change their behaviour

These are the challenges we need to
face, but something can be done. Firstly,
we need to change these attitudes.

This is a government agency! They are openly trying to change the population’s attitudes, behaviors, and even their thoughts. How exactly do they recommend changing people’s thoughts and behaviors? Here are two of their points:

Wow. “Don’t create fear about climate change” is an excellent way to start a sentence, but then they add “without showing what people
can do about it.” In other words, it’s acceptable (desired even) to scare people with horrible climate change predictions, as long as you give them something to do about it. I think Al Gore would heartily agree. Their second point is even more revealing, and really funny:

Don’t rely solely on logic, facts or even money-saving incentives – people need to be inspired and provoked.

This could be the alarmist’s motto. “Don’t rely on logic or facts!” I do think the ‘even’ before money is interesting, they seem to think money is far more motivating than silly things like logic or facts. Their rationale for their dismissal of logic and facts is this: “people need to be inspired and provoked.” I think this quote in addition to their previous reliance on fear says it all.

The second document, Rules of the Game, is no better. It starts off with one ‘uberprinciple’ about communicating climate change:

While I’m not even sure what this means, it seems condescending to say the least. Convincing us to use soap? Is this implying those who don’t believe in climate change are unwashed masses? Let’s look at their first two points:

“Don’t create fear without agency”, sound familiar? Fear is alright, as long as they can do something about it. Even more interesting is their treatment of ‘detractors’. “Those who deny climate change science are irritating, but unimportant.” There you have it, straight from the horse’s mouth. We are annoying, but unimportant. They should just ignore us. Forget about the unwashed, fearless detractors, full steam ahead! Here is my last point from these documents:

The unwashed masses don’t understand information, they need emotions and visuals. Picture books. Movies with lots of slides showing drowning polar bears. Here is an example they put together themselves:

Again, shoddy science wrapped in fear.

We should be concerned when agencies, with the full coercive force of government behind them, cross the line from their bureaucratic duties into outright advocacy. Obviously DEFRA crossed that line years ago.


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Posted by on March 8, 2010 in Politicians


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