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Several months ago, Google announced with some fanfare the creation of a new Science Communication Fellowship program with the initial focus on climate change.

In an effort to foster a more open, transparent and accessible scientific dialogue, we’ve started a new effort aimed at inspiring pioneering use of technology, new media and computational thinking in the communication of science to diverse audiences. Initially, we’ll focus on communicating the science on climate change.

Paul Higgins is one of the 21 Google Science Communication Fellows selected for the climate science communication effort. He describes the goal of the program as making climate science more understandable to the general public and policy makers.

"The vast majority of people don't know and understand the details of climate science. The science of climate change spans 20 to 30 disciplines and sub-disciplines, at least. It is an enormous amount of information, and distilling it is a bit of a challenge."

A well-functioning democracy requires a well-informed populace so it is hard to argue with the premise of the Google initiative. I have my doubts whether it will translate into policy changes, but Google has a track record of success that cannot be easily dismissed. However, an early effort by one of their communications experts does not bode well.

The challenge for Google will be for it to out-Fox and out-Luntz the fossil fuels corporations in building public support for a low carbon economy.

The most profitable corporations in human history sell fossil fuels. They will be the big losers in any rapid transition to a low carbon economy. With trillions and trillions of future profits at stake, these corporations have spent billions to undermine policies that favor clean energy and increase the price of fossil fuels. The investment in political capital has paid off handsomely.

In our dysfunctional democracy, you merely have to convince one party to say no to bring change to a grinding halt. Fueled by free-spending dirty energy corporations, a steady stream of climate disinformation has been churning out of conservative think tanks, media outlets, and politicians over the past few years. The strategy has been extraordinarily successful. Countless surveys have shown a widening gulf between conservatives and the rest of the population in beliefs regarding climate change. Conservatives are much more likely to question the reality of climate change, particularly the idea that it stems from the use of fossil fuels.

So it seems to fair to say Google is rolling the stone of Sisyphus. Unfortunately, one of its new Science Communication Fellows has decided to shoot Sisyphus in the foot. His name is Matthew Nisbet, a communications professor at American University.

Nisbet just published a report entitled, "Climate Shift: Clear Vision for the Next Decade of Public Debate." The report makes two demonstrably false claims: (a) environmental groups outspent fossil fuels corporations in the debate over climate change, and (b) the media has been "fair and balanced" in covering climate change. You can probably add a third to that list as it also implies that Al Gore is responsible for the partisan divide over climate change.

Joseph Romm at Climate Progress has eviscerated the report in posts here, here, and here. One of the paid reviewers of the report, Dr. Robert Brulle, withdrew his name from it after reading the final draft.

Brulle told me the study has “many flaws,” and “selectively used the literature.”  Indeed, Brulle, who is past chair of the Environment and Technology section of the American Sociological Association, says “I gave him refereed articles that countered his thesis and he ignored them.”

Climate Progress

It is clear from publicly available sources that the energy corporations have outspent environmental groups by at least an 8-to-1 margin over the past several years. Nisbet also discounts the significance of conservative media outlets like Murdoch's Fox News while pronouncing media coverage of climate change and energy policy as fairly balanced. From the executive summary of Nisbet's report:

“The era of false balance in news coverage of climate science has come to an end. In comparison to other factors, the impact of conservative media and commentators on wider public opinion remains limited.”

The message Nisbet seems to be trying to sell is that environmental groups are somehow to blame for the partisan divide over climate change and the lack of progress toward a low carbon economy. He basically asserted that groups like the Sierra Club have confused the public by treating greenhouse gas emissions as just another pollution problem. It is all part of what can only be described as a deliberately false narrative.

Nisbet's hatchet job found favor with publications like The New Republic, calling the climate push "a total flop."

Nisbet, for his part, seems to favor the third camp, those in support of the “we need bold new ideas” theory. He certainly doesn’t believe greens were woefully outmatched by powerful fossil-fuel interests. In his report, Nisbet estimates that green groups and their allies spent $394 million on climate-change activities in 2009—ads, organizing, lobbying—compared with just $259 million from conservative and industry groups. Nor does he think media-assisted denialism was a decisive factor. His research found that the biggest news outlets—The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, CNN, and Politico—tended to reflect mainstream climate science in their coverage. The implication, then, is that environmentalists have no one to blame but themselves for failing to sell their climate policies.

What's more, Nisbet argues that the climate cause was hurt by getting too wrapped up in partisan politics. Back in 2007, it wasn’t a problem that Al Gore was the single figure most associated with raising awareness about global warming—after all, his erstwhile foe George W. Bush was wildly unpopular and Democrats were on the rise. But, Nisbet argues, the fact that tackling climate change became identified as a Democratic cause, in an era when Republicans have steadfastly opposed any and every Democratic position, ended up hurting the environmental movement.

While there is little question about Nisbet's intent, his motivation is less clear. Why create a false narrative? The only reason I can see is that he hopes to attract funding as a go-to climate science communications guru. Given his track record to date, it would be wise for Google to find a new expert. Nisbet's vision seems anything but clear.

Originally posted to Climate Hawks on Fri Apr 22, 2011 at 04:36 AM PDT.

Also republished by Community Spotlight.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Not sure about the Google connection (18+ / 0-)

    This is an important development, DWG, thanks for the diary. I've been following Joe Romm's writings on this topic, and I think it's good.

    But I'm pretty sure Google is on the side of the good guys in this battle, and it's not entirely clear that they need to be brought in to this particular snafu. Unless I'm seeing things wrong, Nisbet has been working on this flawed report since long before he got involved with Google, and Google just didn't know this was coming. I don't want them to lose any credibility over this unfairly.

    •  True (20+ / 0-)

      Nisbet has been working on this report before he was selected by Google. However, Google needs to be asking itself how much they want to be associated with Nisbet after this report went out over the strenuous objections of one of the reviewers.

      If his report had given substantive ways to improve messaging, the constructive criticisms would have been valuable. To create a narrative that does not ring true does not seem to fit with Google's objective of fostering a "more open, transparent and accessible scientific dialogue."

      Be radical in your compassion.

      by DWG on Fri Apr 22, 2011 at 05:17:17 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Google will probably drop Nisbet (13+ / 0-)

        My guess is that Google will see the controversy, look a little deeper, and then drop Nisbet from their program. He's not helping them get the message out, and they're going to be aware of that.

        But from our side, it's important to know that Nisbet's flawed claims are going to circulate in the denialsphere for the next few years, and we need to understand the flaws in his work in order to counter that.

      •  See my remark elsewhere (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        truong son traveler

        Linking to the Greenpeace Cloud computing report.

        Goggle gets an F on transparency and I think it is deserved.

        Unfortunately, dispote some good efforts in other respects lack of transparency is deeply embedded in the corporate DNA of Google - they just don't get it and, in fact, tend to have a quite arrogant attitude as a corporation even when they are doing good, and I would add Apple to that list.

        Perhaps it's hard to be honest when your ideas are "Insanley Great".

        What about my Daughter's future?

        by koNko on Fri Apr 22, 2011 at 09:06:01 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Plant? nt (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

      by Gooserock on Fri Apr 22, 2011 at 05:58:30 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Goggle is a mixed bag (3+ / 0-)

      As with other IT companies, they are guilty to some degree, of Green Showboating, saying one thing with the PR machine and doing another in actual operation.

      A good example is energy use. While we must credit Google with supporting some seedling technologists on clean energy and more recently, starting to make real investments in it, in general they have praticed the opposite siting server farms wherever they can get the cheapest power which has a high carbon content.

      This Greenpeace Report on Cloud Computing and IT infrastructure does a fairly good job of explaining the situation and ranking major companies, with Goggle getting middling marks overall, with an F on Transparency (which they absolutely deserve), a C on infrastructure siting and a B on mitigation effort.

      Lower ranked are such companies as Apple, Amazon, Facebook and at the very bottom, Twitter which gets straigt Fs.

      Higher ranked are some more traditional and mature companies such as IBM, Microsoft and Yahoo.

      On the other hand Greenpeace also praises Googles improving efforts on addopting clean energy.

      In fact, while Apple and Google have made effort recently to improve, they have tended to crank the PR machine at a faster speed than than the windmill so perhaps a little push-back on this messaging failure would be good to get them to walk the walk and talk the talk, the latter being a bit more actual transparency and a bit less puffery.

      What about my Daughter's future?

      by koNko on Fri Apr 22, 2011 at 08:37:39 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I guess Google is going for "fair & balanced" (7+ / 0-)

    by including climate change deniers amongst these fellows - while most of the 21 on the list seem to have solid academic credetials, Paul Higgins appears to be a PR hack from the get-go:

    •Paul Higgins, Associate Director, Policy Program, American Meteorological Society

    Which brings to mind a strange study (or at least the results were not what you'd immediately expect) from a few years back that showed that weathermen/women were amongst those least likely to accept global climate change as an established scientific fact.

    •  WTF? (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Sylv, DWG, Albanius, koNko, truong son traveler

      Why don't you actually look up Paul's work/bio and qualifications rather than calling him a "hack"?

      From 2005-2006 he was a Congressional Science Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). During his fellowship year, Paul worked on climate policy in the United States Senate. From 2003-2005 he was a National Science Foundation postdoctoral fellow at the University of California. He received Ph.D. and M.S. degrees from Stanford University and a B.S. from The University of Michigan.

      Blogging regularly at Get Energy Smart NOW! for a sustainable energy future.

      by A Siegel on Fri Apr 22, 2011 at 08:24:55 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  The evidence presented in this diary (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        truong son traveler

        establishes him as a hack - just because he has obtained degrees from top universities doesn't change that.

        Reminds me of the Discovery Institute who sponsors students to get advanced degrees from Harvard or where ever, and then come out and flaunt these qualifications to promote Creationism.

        The RW'ers are nothing if not patient and forward-thinking.   A prime example of that is how that idiot Dan Quayle paved the way for the second idiot - George W Bush - to ease into the White House over a decade later with barely a peep . . ..  

  •  Those darn democrats! (8+ / 0-)

     Them and their silly facts about the climate, and their plans!  They know the republicans are principled, and won't "sell out" the fossil fuel companies, never!
       So why won't they just give in and be, you know, bipartisan?

  •  Severe recession was never mentioned (15+ / 0-)

    in TNR's vapid article. The Constitution gives energy producing states 2 senators, even if they have very small populations (e.g. Wyoming). With the combination of recession, small state empowerment in the Senate, and the filibuster, environmentalists didn't stand a chance no matter what they said or did.

    Kate Sheppard has a good write up in Rolling Stone.

    look for my eSci diary series Thursday evening. "It's the planet, stupid."

    by FishOutofWater on Fri Apr 22, 2011 at 05:16:23 AM PDT

  •  A "communications professor"... does that (5+ / 0-)

    mean he doesn't have any scientific background?

    I believe that in every country the people themselves are more peaceably and liberally inclined than their governments. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt

    by Blue Knight on Fri Apr 22, 2011 at 05:35:23 AM PDT

    •  I'm sure he has "scientific" background (3+ / 0-)

      as in "creation science". Or maybe there's anti-vax publicity gigs in his CV.

      IMO, not only should Nisbet be fired, but whichever idiots hired them should have their jobs at risk.

      Peak Oil is NOW! Looking for intelligent energy policy alternatives? Try here.

      by alizard on Fri Apr 22, 2011 at 05:41:48 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Maybe, maybe not. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Sylv, BlueInARedState

      When I got my master's in communication (no "s" at the end), it was preparatory to research, so many of the studies were based on the scientific method, including theories based on literature in such such fields as psychology, anthropology, and sociology.

      The "s" at the end was purposely omitted to denote a research-based program. Communications with the "s" is more how-to and mostly directed to applications (e.g., journalism, PR, broadcasting).

      It may be that he had a "minor" in some kind of "hard" science, but we don't know. If not, he may be translating scientific findings, as explained to him by scientists, into language accessible to the general public. Considering how much obfuscation is being created by the poisoners and profiteers, that could be a good thing.

      Time will tell, but Google is opening large solar and wind plants. Some of this work is supported by investing in charging stations for electric vehicles.

      Change is the only constant, and Google seems to be using at least part of its power to direct that change. If it can communicate clearly, that would protect and enhance its investment.


    •  Is the issue, perhaps (0+ / 0-)

      The Professor's failure to get the facts straight on the spending of environmental groups verses that of opposing interests so wrong and the false messaging?

      And given the fact reviewers with better scientific credentials critiized the report I have to wonder why Google bothered to publish it unless they agree with the content.

      What about my Daughter's future?

      by koNko on Fri Apr 22, 2011 at 07:59:42 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  sounds like somebody at Google (6+ / 0-)

    needs his worthless ass canned. If I were a major Google investor, either he'd already be gone or I'd be gone.

    Google is putting serious money into technology for fixing global warming. They're one of the lead investors in a solar thermal facility comparable in power output to a nuclear reactor complex, for instance. IIRC, at least some of their data centers are already powered by renewable energy.

    They need to have a "communications guru" going off-message (does anyone at Google think that "bi-partisanship" is good for their investments in greentech?) like they need to buy M$ Bing technology to improve their search engine or to buy Windows Phone 7 to improve Android. That idiot is bad for their future profits.

    Peak Oil is NOW! Looking for intelligent energy policy alternatives? Try here.

    by alizard on Fri Apr 22, 2011 at 05:36:27 AM PDT

  •  Chris Mooney rejects Nisbet (8+ / 0-)

    More from Joe Romm's blog, apparently Nisbet's friend Chris Mooney is now rejecting Nisbet's paper:

  •  with friends like these ... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    addisnana, cotterperson, Oh Mary Oh

    I first encountered Nisbet's work when he began writing at I remember thinking that his description of his interests and his research sounded useful, yet he often seemed to simply piss off the people he claimed to try to help.

    If he wrote here I suspect a frequent comment on his work would be a sarcastic, "This helps."


    Thanks for bringing our attention to this on Earth Day.

  •  The rest of the board will cream him (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Goggle has a nice collection of real experts on the board.

    Nisbet's going to have a hard time with them.

  •  The media HAS been balanced. Unfortunately... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Sylv, esquimaux

    that also means they have been inaccurate, since the industrial view is factually incorrect.

    The biggest message the Google folks can push is "Balance is the enemy of both science and journalism when one of the arguments being weighed is false."

    Gentlemen, you can't fight in here! This is the War Room!

    by bigtimecynic on Fri Apr 22, 2011 at 08:07:37 AM PDT

    •  Balanced media? (2+ / 0-)

      No, not for a long time. Now five corporations own most of the mass media, and they serve as the PR department for the corporatocracy.

      For example, have you noticed that the coverage of Japan's disaster mentions the earthquake and tsunami, but not the nuclear failure? (Their meme is "Obama fail," so they can get another pawn like W in office ;(

      Meteor blades sig line says: "Don't tell me what you believe. Tell me what you do and I'll tell you what you believe." (See the last paragraph of my comment above about what Google is doing, and see how that fits. Sorry I can't leave a link. My cursor has abandoned me)

  •  You might be interersted in (7+ / 0-)

    an item I posted re Nisbet:  Nisbet’s “Climate Shift” and where did they get these numbers (Item #374).  The conclusion:

    One of my graduate advisors posed an interesting question when discussing a specific book:

    I really like the thesis of this book across a wide range of historical cases, many of which I know little about. It reads well and makes sense to me. However, when I look at the specific items of my expertise, I find many errors and do not believe the author used the best secondary sources to support his work.  Should I take my specific expertise and knowledge that leads to the conclusion that this is a poorly done work in one section to say that this is likely the case with the rest of the book or should I follow my agreement with the thesis to embrace the work done on those periods outside my expertise?

    This led to a serious set of discussions within the class that has continued to inform my thinking to date.  While I would like to focus a discussion on Nisbet’s conclusions and recommendations, the serial nature of the data/analytical issues makes any leap to serious attention to Nisbet’s conclusions a rather reckless one.  Sadly, the shoddy nature of much of America’s media system (and the significant PR resources supporting Climate Shift) means that too many will be making that leap.

    Blogging regularly at Get Energy Smart NOW! for a sustainable energy future.

    by A Siegel on Fri Apr 22, 2011 at 08:21:19 AM PDT

    •  I note the comment from Mr. Nisbet (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      A Siegel, Albanius

      under your post, about you being a big ol' meanie for not calling him up or something before you posted about your sample of "consensus" versus his.  It should NOT be necessary to call up someone before commenting on what appears to be bad methodology in a report issued by that person.

      I have to wonder if what he did might be even worse; an intentional misstatement/misrepresentation of the facts in the table to support his thesis.  There is no way that he should have gotten the statistics he had in that WaPo column (1 climate denialist versus 24 so-called "consensus"), with George Will having 4 ostensibly "denialist" columns in 4 months!

      "Without viable unions to serve as a counterweight to corporate power, America's working people and their families are at the mercy of the largest and most powerful economic organizations on the planet."

      by billlaurelMD on Fri Apr 22, 2011 at 10:50:08 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Thanks for the link (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      A Siegel

      When I saw Nisbet's report, I could not help but wonder what he was hoping to accomplish with his attack on environmental organizations and Al Gore. The only thing that makes any sense to me is that he is trying to legitimize himself at their expense with the hope of attracting more attention and money.

      The Nisbet case provides a good answer to the problem posed by your graduate advisor. Robert Brulle took his objections and concerns within his expertise to the Nisbet. Instead of correcting mistakes and improving the draft based on recommendations by Brulle, Nisbet chose to ignore him and created a poor and false narrative.

      Be radical in your compassion.

      by DWG on Fri Apr 22, 2011 at 11:24:14 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Sigh ... (3+ / 0-)

    Can't believe that I didn't make the Nisbet-Google communicator connection.

    Thank you.

    Blogging regularly at Get Energy Smart NOW! for a sustainable energy future.

    by A Siegel on Fri Apr 22, 2011 at 08:22:33 AM PDT

  •  I tend to agree with this last argument: (4+ / 0-)
    But, Nisbet argues, the fact that tackling climate change became identified as a Democratic cause, in an era when Republicans have steadfastly opposed any and every Democratic position, ended up hurting the environmental movement.

    Of course, the environmentalists/scientists, or Al Gore, did not turn this into a partisan issue. Fox New and the Fossil Fuel industry did that. But it worked. Now, when many people hear about climate change, they parse it into a political argument. It wasn't that way even five years ago, but it is now. Unless that changes somehow, I just don't see how we can at least start what we need to do.

    If I don't see you, for a long while, I'll try to find you, left of the dial.

    by mithra666 on Fri Apr 22, 2011 at 08:46:35 AM PDT

  •  Sounds like this year's (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    DWG, esquimaux, wonmug, Albanius

    Greg Easterbrook:

    In Toxic Sludge is Good For You, John Stauber and Sheldon Rampton wrote:

    ...the Earth Day 1995 release of A Moment On The Earth: The Coming Age of Environmental Optimism, a 745-page exercise in sophistry by Gregg Easterbrook, seemed like dirt in the face of the losing green lobbyists. "Cancel your plans for doomsday, planet earth is alive and well," screamed the book's full page New York Times advertisement. Easterbrook's one-sided and factually deformed tract promoted his pollyannish doctrine of "ecorealism." While defensively proclaiming himself a liberal and an environmentalist, he provided the PR greenwashers with their best manifesto to date, written by an "objective" journalist.

    They noted that "Easterbrook's own mother died of breast cancer after working in the notorious Hooker Chemical plant that produced the toxic wastes buried at Love canal, yet A Moment on the Earth claims that all major environmental crises are virtually solved or never really existed in the first place."

    "Easterbrook's naïveté showed," they wrote, "as he publicly pleaded with industry to call off its lobbyists' assault on environmental regulations. 'Has all the apparent progress in the chemical industry been merely a public relations ploy?' Easterbook wondered with apparently genuine consternation."

    Gregg Easterbrook, the author of A Moment on the Earth, concludes that the acts of individuals are the root of many environmental problems. He wrote in the New York Times magazine, "Though environmental orthodoxy holds that Third World deforestation is caused by rapacious clear-cutters and ruthless cattle barons, penniless peasants seeking fuel wood may be the greatest threat to our forests." He conveniently fails to mention that "penniless peasants" are forced to colonize rainforests and cut down trees for firewood after being driven from their traditional lands by "rapacious clear-cutters and ruthless cattle barons."

    Via SourceWatch

    Slap it. Shoot it. Kaboot it.

    by adios on Fri Apr 22, 2011 at 09:04:28 AM PDT

  •  3rd wayism strikes again! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Sorry, No Labelism!  Oh wait, what is the 'centrist' camp calling itself this week?

  •  It seems to me that (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    DWG, truong son traveler

    your purpose in writing is to bring focus to this:

    Unfortunately, one of (Google's) new Science Communication Fellows (named) Matthew Nisbet ... just published a report  (that) makes two demonstrably false claims: (a) environmental groups outspent fossil fuels corporations in the debate over climate change, and (b) the media has been "fair and balanced" in covering climate change. You can probably add a third to that list as it also implies that Al Gore is responsible for the partisan divide over climate change.  

    Not to be a non-diary-writing member of the Rhetorical police, but normally I tune out diaries that start off with a lot of background information but no clear indication to me why I should be reading it.  But something about the diary made me think there is something important in it.

    I'm posting this comment just because I think you would reach an even wider audience if you brought the issue you're raising right up front without fear that anyone reading it wouldn't know who Nisbet is or what a Science Communication Fellow is.  There is, in essence, a dramatic conflict inherent in what you're writing about.  That will draw people into reading even if they (like me) don't know the set-up info.  It will alert people that are aware of what you're writing to look for what specifically you're bringing our attention to.  Those in the know will know what they can skip and those clueless (like me) will know how to understand the set up info.

    And if anyone asking: no, I'm not qualified to critique writing.  So, I'm quite literally "just sayin' ..."

    "Pelosi was the only damn one of the entire lot who showed any ounce of leadership the last two years"-- The Dead Man

    by musicalhair on Fri Apr 22, 2011 at 10:41:11 AM PDT

    •  You are right (4+ / 0-)

      I wrote this piece with one goal in mind - to draw attention to the Google - Nisbet connection. Joe Romm, Adam Siegel, Media Matters, and few others have written detailed critiques of the Nisbet report, but did not make the Google connection. Rather than repeat their analysis, I decided to focus on a connection that they did not make. My goal is to pressure Google to take a closer look at Nisbet and hopefully dump him from their program.

      Yes, the flow would have been easier to follow had I reversed it, talking first about Nisbet's terrible report and then mentioning the Google connection. Normally, I write with a focus on telling the story from beginning to end. Here, my goal was to wave the Google flag with the intent of catching the eye of people who were already familiar with the Nisbet story. My fear was that they would not read to the end because they were already familiar with the issues and did not need me to reiterate them.

      Your critique is fair. I would have written it much differently if I did not have a larger axe to grind.

      Be radical in your compassion.

      by DWG on Fri Apr 22, 2011 at 11:48:14 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Yeah, ... (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        truong son traveler, DWG

        I was hesitant to post a criticism of writing, but I feel like I probably miss a lot of information when I don't see why I'm reading something in the first few sentences.

        If I might offer yet another unqualified tweak of the words, then you're writing about google's efforts on accuracy in the climate debate being undermined from within-- right?  I guess what I'm saying is that-- and I'm only like beginning to think about this right now today-- the conflict or "dramatic conflict" of what you're trying to get across-- or that any of us are trying to get across-- is what will draw us in as readers.  The "here's the crazy thing" aspect of what we're trying to eve say in anything we write.

        let me apologize for using your diary to work out thoughts that might be both obvious and pointless, but are only dawning on me now.

        But, most importantly, keep writing about this issue, please.

        "Pelosi was the only damn one of the entire lot who showed any ounce of leadership the last two years"-- The Dead Man

        by musicalhair on Fri Apr 22, 2011 at 02:38:34 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Please don't apologize (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          I love constructive criticism and you were fair in your critique. In journalistic terms, I buried the lede and did so on purpose.

          My goal was first to call attention to the Google program because it is an important initiative to create effective synthesis and messaging. Second, I want to contrast that initiative with their opposition - the free-spending dirty energy folks. One you have their context, it is easier to see why what Nisbet did was so counterproductive and antithetical to the aims of the Google program.

          If I reiterated the criticisms that others have already made of Nisbet out of the gate, then you might come away with a sense that he is a twit and, oh by the way, he is also a Google communications fellow and his report seems contradictory to the Google initiative, which by the way consists of the following, and ...  

          Be radical in your compassion.

          by DWG on Sat Apr 23, 2011 at 12:39:01 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Right now, I'd love a look at this guy's finances. (0+ / 0-)

    After all, he probably has been given a lot of money by those profligate eco-freaks; you know, the big-spending tree-huggers who pour millions of dollars into grants, etc. for those who are willing to......

    Oh, wait a moment. Wrong group.

    Freedom has two enemies: Those who want to control everyone around them...and those who feel no need to control themselves.

    by Sirenus on Fri Apr 22, 2011 at 10:50:07 AM PDT

  •  Anyone read the report? (0+ / 0-)

    Just curious - have any of you read the actual report?

    I hope you check it out before jumping to the conclusion that Romm and friends are right.  Nisbet makes some really compelling arguments for how those of us who care about change should think about climate change policy options and communications moving forward.

    Keep in mind, Nisbet is on "our" side - he's a liberal Dem who believes climate change is real...he's not some sort of FOX-News-denier!

    (And, yes, I know him and have worked with him.)

  •  Go for the gut (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Albanius, truong son traveler

    We need to get concrete, personal and visceral.  

    Terms like "environment" and "climate" are abstractions; they are too large and too complex to wrap your head around.  And the traditionally publicized areas of environmental damage are not very personal to the mass media audience:  most of its members have never been to the ice caps or the rain forests.

    But disease is personal.  And nothing is as visceral as the instinct to protect your children.

    We need to talk about cancer, heart disease, lung disease, birth defects and other terrifying threats.  We need to make them the center of the enviromental debate.  And we need to call out the polluters who are causing them and the flunkies who are letting them get away with it. Shame is an incredible motivator, at least for elected officials.

    These issues gain traction across the ideological spectrum:  conservatives may not care too much about the Arctic Refuge, but they do care deeply about their own kids.  And it is no stretch to get those interersted in the rights of the unborn to worry about poisons in the womb.

    This is the emotional appeal we need, and it will work to protect both our children and our world.

    What to do with it?  Whenever the environment is debated:

    - Bring it up at every town hall meeting.

    - Make calls.

    - Write letters to Members of Congress, editors, news anchors, et cetera.

    - Most effective: take grassroots delegations to your state and national officials' local offices.  Cheap and easy to do:  see my post Grassroots Meetings 101. Bring along a parent, pediatrician, teacher and minister.  It's an unbeatable combination.

    You'll want data to back up the emotion.  Here are a few good resources:

    - The Collaborative on Health and the Environment breaks it all down in its CHE Toxicant and Disease Database.  Search in the "pediatrics" category and feel your hair turn white.

    - The Environmental Defense Fund's All Chocked Upreport lays out how pollutants trigger cancer, heart and lung diseases in a NY City case study.

    - The American Lung Association's State of the Air Report.  Importantly, it gives city rankings, which are helpful in making arguments to local officials and recruiting local supporters.

    - The CDC's The State of Childhood Asthma, United States, 1980–2005.  It's a good bet things haven't gotten better since.

    - has great sources in its Asthma Burden section.

    - The Heart, Lung and Cancer Societies are also great sources of information.  Ask them for the best ways to break down disease statistics by state, and, even more importantly, Congressional District.

    - Also worth checking out:  the American Cancer Society's Cancer Action Network.  

    As for identifying the flunkies, while Citizens United allows for a lot of hidden corporate contributing, it does not hide individual contributions to campaigns.  Just go to the FEC, and look up a particularly offensive CEO's contributions.  You'll see who s/he's helping out, and get a good idea for what his/her company is up to.

    Time to go for the gut.

    Politics is the entertainment branch of industry. -Frank Zappa

    by TheGrandWazoo on Fri Apr 22, 2011 at 01:19:30 PM PDT

    •  Wazoo: Pls make this a diary (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      truong son traveler

      it doesnt really fit as comment:
      too long and doubly off topic: not about Nisbet/Google,
      but not even about climate, rather you talk about local pollution/health issues.

      Tipped anyway bc you do address the importance of emotionally powerful communication, but you should be aware that runaway global overheating has already begun to devastate human livelihood no less severely, and on a far greater scale, than local/direct toxic pollution.

      There's no such thing as a free market!

      by Albanius on Fri Apr 22, 2011 at 07:00:51 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  DWG---thanks for this---I have a contact at google (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    truong son traveler

    and will see what I can find out regarding their inner thoughts--if anything at all..  Likely pretty slim, but worth a try.

  •  global warming (0+ / 0-)

    the experiential evidence speaks for itself.  I see videos of glaciers shrinking and people being relocated due to this ongoing global warming catastrophe.  It really brings me to tears.  A friend of mine took a video of a polar bear sweltering under a polar sun.  I'da sure given the poor guy a caffeine free Coke if I could have.  But I couldn't.  How can I be more involved?

  •  I'm not seeing what Google did wrong, here. (0+ / 0-)

    I'm gonna go eat a steak. And fuck my wife. And pray to GOD - hatemailapalooza, 052210

    by punditician on Fri Apr 22, 2011 at 09:08:19 PM PDT

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