Today I would like to share with you this impressive article from Steve Spencer of Fresh Agenda.
The article looks at the challenge of changing attitudes towards action (or inaction) on climate change. According to the article findings from recently published PCCCS report aren’t very complimentary to climate change scientists – pushing their arguments and beliefs in the form of charts, data and weighty studies but generally missing the mark and lacking traction.
The PCCCS says the major barrier to influencing change is not about the quality of the scientific data or the compelling no-brainer facts, but that many people denying or resisting their arguments simply have a different world view, and often different political values.
This is not the first time this has been said and to their credit the smart people in the scientific community widely acknowledge they are part of the problem. But (and please correct me if I am wrong) we don’t seem to be getting much traction in moving away from the squiggly diagrams loaded science and moving towards a community based we are all in this together mindset and giving the community ownership of the mantra
What’s good for the planet is good for us.
This is the image that bought it all into perspective for me
This is what Steve has to say
Engage for change
The recent release of a paper by a bunch of British academics into the challenge of changing attitudes towards action (or inaction) on climate change has some interesting and sobering suggestions for communities pushing change agendas in food and agriculture.
The report by the Policy Commission on Communicating Climate Science (PCCCS) was published in May this year by the University College, London. The findings aren’t very complimentary to climate change scientists – pushing their arguments and beliefs in the form of charts, data and weighty studies but generally missing the mark and lacking traction.
The PCCCS says this is because they are often ill prepared to engage with the emotionally, politically and ideologically-charged public debate on the issues, and the use of their science. The major barrier to influencing change is not about the quality of the scientific data or the compelling no-brainer facts, but that many people denying or resisting their arguments simply have a different world view, and often different political values.
The PCCCS recommends the scientific community needs to take a totally fresh approach and equip themselves with a new suite of skills. It should band together through a professional body, get training in effective communication and seek better engagement with the community and policymakers. It also says they should stop resorting to alarmist, world-destructive consequences of inaction.
This is not just about the climate.
The suggestions are highly relevant in a wider context, where researchers try to “push” change through methods they believe are best.
The challenges ahead in sustaining the world in nutritious food will continue to run into many fights that challenge ideology. And they will continue to be tackled by armies of passionate people trying to sway with swathes of facts or sponsored evidence.
When trying to enlist the farmers into the adoption of business improvement programs, don’t drown them in data and glossy paper. Finding out what will engage people. Unlocking an appetite for change should be the highest priority in landing an effective message, rather than investing in better ways to present facts and package more compelling data. Investments in benchmarking for the sake of it run headlong into this risk area.
The same applies to arguments on the either side of debates about food production from the use of GMOs to organic methods, and even through to the evils of certain nutrients and ingredients in food processing.
People hold beliefs because of who they are, what their social value set defines in them – but not what they read or don’t read.
Steve also has some interesting thoughts on the recent PETA ‘expose’ into very isolated shearing practices in the wool industry. See Are we buying the PETA yarn?