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The Obama-Biden reelection campaign has sent out a tweet on climate change issues:

This quote from the President's DNC speech was the second most applauded line in the speech and, when given, raised hopes that the campaign would end the climate silence.  Sadly, "climate change" has not (yet...) emerged as a major element of the Presidential campaign (and didn't appear in the first debate) even though it is an arena of incredibly stark difference between the candidates (and their parties) and the polling research is showing -- quite clearly  and strongly -- that this is a winning issue for the Obama-Biden team to embrace. In short,discussing climate change issues forcefully
  • Will motivate 'the base' to go out and vote.
  • Speaks strongly to and sways 'independents' who resemble Democratic voters, much more than Republicans, when it comes to climate-change issues.
  • Is irrelevant for the climate-deniers, who are already impassioned to vote for fossil-foolish politicians.

The Obama-Biden tweet, at this moment, has been retweeted over 1500 times and has over 300 favorites. Unclear how this matches up to other campaign tweets, but I do suspect that this is on the higher end for the campaign. A question: Is it possible that the campaign will use this as (yet another) signal of the political power of speaking on climate issues?

Now, while cheering (the "yeah" in the post's title) on the campaign to talk about climate issues, let us be clear:  this was a dangerous line for framing reasons and thus is it really the message that should be retweeted (the "sigh" in the title).  Use of "hoax", in the speech, was President Obama reacting to Mitt Romney's joking anti-science dismissal of climate change in his RNC speech (and, well, lots of places elsewhere before and since). Take a look at the "Debunking Handbook", which makes clear that starting off with the 'myth' to be 'debunked' sadly reinforces the false messaging.  And, taking a look at this specific situation, there is real danger in using powerful words like "hoax".  As Joe Romm put it shortly after the speech,

The social science literature is quite clear that repeating a myth is not the best way to debunk it. Indeed, there is evidence that it can actually end up promoting that myth.

It’s why linguist George Lakoff titled his best-selling book, Don’t think of an elephant. If I say that to you, you will think of an elephantNegatives carry very little rhetorical weight. In this case, the word “hoax” is very strong and memorable and is not one that should be repeated by those who understand the realities of climate science.

Thus, a conundrum:  retweet to encourage the campaign to discuss climate issues or not to retweet to avoid reinforcing the negative?

My choice was to retweet but also to respond/engage to encourage better speechwriting along with continued discussion of climate issues.  

Among my responses:

Yeah: Ending #climatesilence. Bad: Emphasizing false talking point ("hoax") reinforces it. @skepticscience

@BarackObama Excellent. Ending#climatesilence is not just right, but winning politics. @climatebrad @Agent350

To repeat for emphasis:
Ending climate silence is not just right, but winning politics.
Yesterday, Climate Desk held a forum in Washington, DC, entitled: Is Climate Change the Sleeper Political Issue of 2012? The polling and focus group work, done by multiple institutions, shows quite clearly that -- nationally -- climate change is a winning political issue.  The moderator, Chris Mooney, did a quite directed question challenging whether the 'political pros', who are focus on very micro-targeting in swing states, might know details that aren't explored in the national polls. In a quite interesting discussion that followed, the three panelists highlighted -- with different angles and details -- that key swing states are actually more open for engagement on climate issues.
  • New Mexico and Colarado have had massive impact from drought and wildfires.
  • Florida is 'on the front line' for climate impacts, from extreme weather damage to rising seas.
  • Virginia -- along with a good part of the East Coast -- was in the bulls-eye for the Derecho earlier this year.

Yesterday's panel,sadly not (yet?) available to watch on the Climate Desk site, had many useful points about how to do successful engagement on and framing of climate change to make it a winning political issue.  We can only hope that the Obama-Biden campaign team (along with climate reality politicians at all levels) pay attention to and act on these lessons.

Note that there is a GOP denier posted as the first comment to the Obama tweet. Thus, a question about twitter:  When looking at the Obama tweet, there are likely 100s of responses (jeez, I've done 4 or 5) with the >1000 retweets and >300 "Favorites".  How come two of the five responses that show up when pulling the tweet are from a global warming denier?  How can we have other responses show?  (Were these .@BarackObama rather than @BarackObama responses?)  How do we push up the positive responses?  Thanks in advance for Twitter tutorial(s).

Originally posted to A Siegel on Thu Oct 11, 2012 at 08:11 AM PDT.

Also republished by Climate Change SOS, Climate Hawks, and DK GreenRoots.

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Comment Preferences

  •  It's not a hoax (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    A Siegel, WarrenS

    That doesn't reinforce a myth.  That's how to finally ridicule the Inhofe's and other oily liars.  I can't agree with these theories about it being a mistake to point out how stupid the deniers are (they call it a hoax).

    Republicans: Taking the country back ... to the 19th century

    by yet another liberal on Thu Oct 11, 2012 at 08:28:13 AM PDT

    •  Not "theories" (6+ / 0-)

      in either definition of the word. The research doesn't stand up to level of Scientific Theory and isn't the common street version of 'theory' as an idea that may or may not be backed by evidence.  In fact, there is a lot of research on what messaging resonates and how people retain information.  

      Take a look at the Debunking Handbook.  It is relatively short (5-6 pages), has a long of supporting material, and provides some straightforward discussion of what works in 'debunking myths'.

      Thus, in a longer presentation, the comments might be more like:  

      The world's scientific community is telling us, quite clearly and strongly, that the evidence is in and stark: our current patterns are creating serious problems when it comes to climate change. We have, however, the potential to create jobs and prosperity if we tackle this challenge by making it into an opportunity.  Rather than belittling science and mocking scientists, falsely calling climate change a hoax as if the world's scientists were engaged in a criminal conspiracy, the Republican Party would better serve America by engaging in a discussion as to what we should to make lemonade from lemons.  Droughts and heat waves and forest fires and damaged crops and other real impacts that Americans are seeing aren't jokes but are powerful signs that we must end the oil companies' efforts to confuse us about science and we Americas should do what we do best:  solve problems through innovation and thus create greater prosperity and security for ourselves and our children.
      E.g, "hoax" is there ... but it is buried rather than prominent.

      Now, honestly, most important is that the campaign is speaking on climate change issue.

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

      by A Siegel on Thu Oct 11, 2012 at 08:37:59 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  You guys annoy me with this (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    In what universe was climate change legislation going to pass with this or ANY congress?

    Everyone Chill the fuck out! I got this - unknown but credited to Barack Obama

    by natedogg265 on Thu Oct 11, 2012 at 08:53:15 AM PDT

  •  Look, here's political reality. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    WarrenS, bewareofme

    Climate change is going to take a back seat to jobs.  Sorry, it just is.  If Obama was out campaigning on climate change he'd get hammered.

    At least he and his party recognize the problem.

    Keep Calm and Carry On. But kick some unholy ass if the situation warrants.

    by GOPGO2H3LL on Thu Oct 11, 2012 at 08:54:35 AM PDT

  •  thanks for an excellent, respectful piece (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    blueoasis, John Crapper, Sunspots

    An ambulance can only go so fast - Neil Young

    by mightymouse on Thu Oct 11, 2012 at 09:00:51 AM PDT

  •  Climate change isn't even a swing state issue (6+ / 0-)

    It's a planetary issue that has impacts based on events and trends even thousands of miles away.

    Changes in marine life migration patterns in New England. Dying fish in steamy hot Nebraska river waters. Barges having to be parked in Mississippi. Homes sinking into the Earth as permafrost melts in coastal Alaska. We have an issue that is too big for a few select ads. Piecemeal measures have been all we have show for anything as national (much less international) policy, and individual behavioral measures aren't going to keep carbon dioxide emissions from surging into 400 ppm territory (like in the next few years.) And I also agree, tweets are too passive and too indirect. We need a discussion. We need a total shift in prioritizing our understanding of "issues." No national security without a stable Earth. No economic growth or stability without a stable Earth. Nothing is guaranteed under that premise.

    And it's also that we need to frame climate change as both a present and future issue. That what we have seen very recently is only a glimpse into the future. So, these events we have witnessed become more frequent and more amplified. Deeper wounds to the Arctic melt. Slower jet streams and Gulf Streams.

    Temperature anomalies are up 0.9 degree F from the 20th century average, and look how much things have already destabilized. No way in hell can we survive on 2 degree F, in my judgment.

    "Growth for the sake of growth is the ideology of the cancer cell." ~Edward Abbey ////\\\\ "To be a poor man is hard, but to be a poor race in a land of dollars is the very bottom of hardships." ~W.E.B. DuBois

    by rovertheoctopus on Thu Oct 11, 2012 at 09:20:03 AM PDT

    •  You know that I agree ... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      John Crapper, rovertheoctopus

      however, trying to accommodate "political reality" with reality ... And, let's face facts, Oklahoma (as a voting bloc) views discussion of climate differently than Oregon (or Colorado or New Mexico or ...).

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

      by A Siegel on Thu Oct 11, 2012 at 09:27:20 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  "accomodate 'political reality' with reality" (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        Wow. I wish.

        Like acknowledging that population growth drives unemployment and that productivity and employment cannot both grow unless an economy is growing faster than both? And that the only time CO2 emissions went down was in the depths of the Great Recession in 2009 and then - in 2010 they rose by 6%?

        RE tweeting and the like:

        Never before have so many people with so little to say said so much to so few.
        So, let's watch teevee and hope, like I do, that Joe Biden demolishes the little lying fucker and Obama wins.

        However, Keystone XL - you know the Tar Sands "game over" for climate change - will be approved no matter who wins.

        muddy water can best be cleared by leaving it alone

        by veritas curat on Thu Oct 11, 2012 at 10:33:02 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Climate change is not a political issue but (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    A Siegel, quill

    when looked at through the prism of politics it becomes clear that neither party is willing to provide the leadership required to seriously change the trajectory of this country's fossil fuel energy path.  I used to think this was just a matter of education on the part of the scientific community and environmental groups.  But I've changed my opinion on this.  

    The political will to inspire the population, maintain the level of concern and commitment in the population for an extended period of time and politically commit to a sustained long-term effort to readjust our economy is beyond their will and capacity to tackle in our short-term get re-elected environment.   As long as climate change remains in the political arena it will not be adequately addressed.  

    The issue needs to move "beyond politics" somehow.  That is what happened in the country when the New Deal was able to be launched.  If I remember correctly we also had a president who was able to stay president for longer than 8 years.  Just making the point that short-term political goals do not lend themselves to addressing climate change.  

    Wish we had the Environmental Impact Supreme Court branch of government that would have the power to look at laws from an environmental perspective and declare them against the laws of the constitution of nature and therefore struck down.  

    Oops - sorry - let me get back to reality.

    If we really want to straighten out all this crap we need to really think about shit!

    by John Crapper on Thu Oct 11, 2012 at 09:55:46 AM PDT

  •  Talk is cheap, tweets even cheeper (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    John Crapper, Calamity Jean

    Back that shit up with action.  Like reverse approval of XL Abomination.

    Progressive Candidate Obama (now - Nov 6, 2012)
    Bipartisan Obama returns (Nov 7, 2012)

    by The Dead Man on Thu Oct 11, 2012 at 09:57:52 AM PDT

  •  I think there is some (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    A Siegel

    difference between a declarative sentence and an adjuration.

    Don't think of an elephant is a command.  Don't think elephant.  But you've passed the don't by the time you get to elephant, and to follow the command you have to think of an elephant.

    Climate science is not a hoax does still have a problem becomes it admits the possibility of hoax.  But people do accept denials more readily about facts outside of the person's being.  Nixon, I am not a crook, O'Donnel, I am not a witch,  that's personal and about character.

    The bank is not open.

  •  I think the references to droughts and wildfires (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Sunspots, A Siegel

    helps though,  people can see those, experience those, they aren't calling for acceptance of an idea.

    And the climate is becoming so funky, everyone is noticing.

  •  NO MORE FRIGGING LIES! (4+ / 0-)

    Perfectly timed!!!

    Perhaps our President will realize in the next 3 weeks that he has nothing to lose and will open up to the public about all of the issues we seriously need to be discussing.

    One of the most thrilling diaries I have the honor to rec and push out there to my limited social networks.

    Thank you. Mon. Siegel:)

  •  Also, this: (3+ / 0-)
    According to a new poll, 74 percent of Americans agree that climate change is impacting weather in the U.S., including 73 percent who agreed, strongly or somewhat, that climate change had exacerbated record high temperatures over the summer. The findings mean that a large majority of Americans agree with climatologists who in recent years have found increasingly strong evidence that climate change has both increased and worsened extreme weather events.

    You never trust a millionaire/Quoting the sermon on the mount/I used to think I was not like them/But I'm beginning to have my doubts -- The Arcade Fire

    by tomjones on Thu Oct 11, 2012 at 12:45:44 PM PDT

  •  Another drought year is likely w El Nino fail (0+ / 0-)

    The expanding Pacific high is leaving the southwest dry. The storm track is pushed north on the west coast bringing drier air to most of the U.S.

    Climate change is worsening droughts as we speak.

    look for my eSci diary series Thursday evening.

    by FishOutofWater on Fri Oct 12, 2012 at 10:15:49 AM PDT

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