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Apr 8, 2014

From the brains behind Rhonda and Kevin07, how to sell climate change

Many Australians do not believe the scientists on climate change. We've asked some of the country's brightest advertising brains how to sell the message to a sceptical public.

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Fires, heatwaves, megastorms — you know the (apocalyptic) drill on climate change. But what if the message was flipped on its head? What if climate change was reframed to be a positive story about humans learning to live in a cleaner way for the benefit of our kids and grandkids?

Despite a slew of scientific reports showing that humans are affecting the climate — the most recent being last week’s IPCC report — Australians are not convinced. As Crikey has pointed out, fewer than 50% think human-induced climate change is happening. That number has flatlined. The public doesn’t seem to be listening.

So Crikey is asking experts in communications and political strategy how to sell the message on climate change. Last week we asked those who are not convinced climate change is real to get inside the sceptics’ heads (an experiment judged heretical by some environmentally minded readers). This week we’ve opened up the question to communications guns who’ve successfully sold tricky products like car insurance and Kevin Rudd …

Brendon Guthrie, executive creative director at ad agency Ogilvy Melbourne, worked on AAMI’s “Rhonda” ads:

Guthrie knows a thing or two about winning over the public; he’s worked on the popular car insurance ads that show hapless Rhonda falling for Balinese hunk Ketut (the ads have more than 700,000 hits on YouTube). And he thinks the branding is all wrong on climate change.

He says advocates have made climate change about catastrophe, a tricky message in a country with an extreme climate. They’ve also used semi-religious language about “deniers”, etc. This has put people off, Guthrie told Crikey. “Climate change is a brand with which the public has fallen out of love … Climate change is a frog in a slowly warming pot of water, not a catastrophe. So stop trying to sell it as if it is. It’s obvious most people no longer believe you.”

This is how Guthrie would sell climate change: “It’s time for positive campaigning. Sell the advantages of action on climate change, rather than the apocalyptic consequences of inaction … Put the case that whatever’s happening up in the atmosphere, enacting legislation to reduce carbon emissions and investing in renewable energy down here will produce a dividend in the form of a cleaner and more liveable world. That’s easy to understand.”

He says humans don’t necessarily respond well to messages which are about the future, e.g. warnings of environmental disasters. “Most of us are not great scientists, philosophers or artists,” he said. “The future is something that happens to us, not something we consciously shape. Therefore, our main concern will always be for our own welfare, and that of those we love, in the here and now.”

Neil Lawrence, CEO of communications firm Lawrence Creative Strategy, created the Kevin07 campaign:

Climate sceptics have succeeded because they’ve exploited humans’ resistance to change, says Lawrence, the brains behind the brilliant Kevin07 campaign, which ushered Kevin Rudd into The Lodge. “It just lines up with human desire to not want to believe that we’re heading for disaster.”

Lawrence thinks climate messaging went wrong when Labor made it about the “big polluters”, letting individuals off the hook (there’s plenty of compensation for voters in the carbon tax). “I thought that was terrible,” Lawrence said. Rather, the solution should be presented as inclusive; “there’s got to be a collective thought of we are all in this, and everyone has something to contribute.”

As to how Lawrence would sell climate change, he says it’s the most complex communications challenge he’s looked at and it might not be possible to change people’s minds in the short term. Lawrence adds that most of the terrible effects of climate change are in the future, and humans are not imaginative at projecting into the future.

This is how he’d try to sell it. He’d find new spokespeople; “I’ve seen people pay attention to less predictable voices on this.” Instead of rolling out an academic or activist, roll out firefighters.

He also points to the generational reality that older people are more sceptical about climate change, as shown by Bernard Keane further down in Crikey today. Lawrence suggests focusing on the under-35s. Harness their “burning anger” about climate to raise the temperature of the debate. Young people have the most at stake and can amplify the issue.

Jane Caro, communications consultant and advertising lecturer:

Caro reckons humans make decisions emotionally, then rationalise them afterwards. Facts do not change people’s behaviour. “Only emotions change behaviour, and only two of them do that: hope and fear,” she told Crikey. “All successful marketing leverages both.”

So if you want to sell deodorant, create fear — of the social humiliation from body odour — then create hope of smelling nice. “Climate change is no different,” Caro added.

Scientists must find ways to sell fear on climate change, to convince us there is a problem — and Caro thinks they have done quite a good job. But “what they have failed to do is sell us some solutions and so increase our hopes”. Simple, practical solutions to climate change must be found and pitched to the public.

Adam Ferrier, co-founded Naked Communications, worked for Coke and Unilever, now at creative agency Cummins & Partners:

“Scientists should be banned from talking about their results — ever,” Ferrier told Crikey. “Even the best of them make remarkable information sound bland. Why? Because humans don’t care about information — they never have.”

The best way to change mass behaviour is “crappy reality TV”, according to Ferrier (he points to this campaign on how to engage on the environment). “Look what Bondi Rescue did for surf club enrolments, what The Block has done for the home renovation industry, and what MasterChef has done for the sales of wagyu beef. You see, we like to be entertained, and we like to do what everyone else is doing (including you, dear reader, no matter how individualistic you’d like to think you are).”

Companies such as Shine, Zapruder Cordell Jigsaw and Endemol Southern Star should be pitching to commercial TV networks that “green will rate”. Ferrier suggests “an extremely compelling reality TV series where you have lovable winners and lots of losers battling it out to save the environment”.

*Ferrier’s book The Advertising Effect: how to change behaviour is published by Oxford next month

Cathy Alexander —

Cathy Alexander

Freelance journalist and PhD candidate in politics at the University of Melbourne

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55 thoughts on “From the brains behind Rhonda and Kevin07, how to sell climate change

  1. Ken Lambert

    Here is the source of the Turney quote TT:


    It is pretty easy to tell icebergs from sea ice, even from my armchair.

    Sea ice is frozen seawater and contains about 1% salt (0.3 – 1.5% depending on age). Icebergs are frozen snow calved off a glacier – snow is frozen fresh water.

    Just grab a handful and taste it.

  2. Tyger Tyger

    Ken @48,

    “Turney later told FoxNews.com the ice surrounding his ship is old, rather than recently formed, and likely from a particular 75 mile-long iceberg [originally from the Mertz Glacier] that broke apart three years ago. Climate change may have prompted the iceberg to shatter and float into the previously open sea where the mostly Australian team finds itself stranded, Turney said.”

    I note there is no citation attached to this quote and, critically, no time frame. When precisely did he say that? Have a look at the BBC article I attached @47:

    ‘The [expedition ship] Shokalskiy BEGAN TO RUN INTO TROUBLE towards the end of that day as it attempted to leave the area. Its location was close to the edge of a huge glacial system called the Mertz Glacier where it flows into the sea. Four years ago, the end of this glacier was smashed into many pieces by a gigantic passing iceberg named B09B.
    Expedition leader Chris Turney, a professor of earth sciences at the University of New South Wales, said that THE ICE FLOES THAT SURROUNDED HIS SHIP APPEARED TO HAVE COME FROM THE EASTERN SIDE OF THE WRECKED GLACIER FRONT.
    “It seems to have been coming from the other side of the Mertz glacier. This was very thick ice – three plus metres thick which was coming across (our path),” he said.
    “The captain did an amazing job, weaving a course trying to get out but it was quite clear this was a different event from anything we’d seen before.”‘ (my emphasis)

    The distinction is then made between that and the “fast ice” in which the ship became stuck:

    ‘Chris Turney said: “It looks like it was fast ice attached to the continent on the other side of the Mertz glacier and, for whatever reason, it was broken up and with strong southeasterly winds, chunks of ice were driven across our path.’

    What was clearly a complex, chaotic situation as described by the people who were there, involving BOTH ice from a collision between iceberg and ice shelf found in an area the expedition members weren’t expecting it (which Turney said “may” be due to climate change) AND fast ice, you, from the comfort of your armchair thousands of kilometres away KNOW was an example of bumbling, ignorant scientists who wouldn’t know an iceberg from a hailstone at work. That your cherry picked, “truthy” version of events not only beggars belief, but also, once again, just HAPPENS to confirm your prejudices is the salient point here.

    As for Hansen and Trenberth, they’re discussing “surface temperatures”, no? You’re such an expert on oceans you must know that 90% of the extra energy from the anthropogenically amplified greenhouse effect has gone in to warming the oceans. It suits your cause to ignore that and focus on an as yet statistically insignificant “slowdown” in surface temperatures, many of which can be observed on the 150-odd year temperature record and none of which amounts to a hill of beans compared to the overall record, which shows a clear upward trend.
    A high school statistics student could tell you, if asked to choose between 15 or 150 years of data, which would give you a clearer picture, yet you, an “older white male” (What are you? Moses leading the tribe through the climate wilderness?) honours graduate with 30 years of experience in something unspecified to do with thermodynamics, get it wrong. Goes to your credibility again, methinks
    Show me a single quote where either Hansen or Trenberth say that AGW is not happening and no action is required and I’ll sit up and take notice.

    BTW, still no response explaining your false implication that the expedition was not expecting to find sea ice; the many “Climategate” inquiry findings; the nature of your scientific qualifications and experience; or why you don’t stop badgering people with your selective “facts” and simply publish the “truth” you alone have divined and have it subjected to peer review.

  3. Ken Lambert


    I think its time to put you out of your misery:

    I got into a debate with Dave C on a Crikey comment thread here:


    Dave C quoted me what Turney said to Fox News:

    “Turney later told FoxNews.com the ice surrounding his ship is old, rather than recently formed, and likely from a particular 75 mile-long iceberg [originally from the Mertz Glacier] that broke apart three years ago. Climate change may have prompted the iceberg to shatter and float into the previously open sea where the mostly Australian team finds itself stranded, Turney said.”

    As you can see Dave C graciously conceded defeat after some to and fro. Is seems that Turney did not know the difference between icebergs and sea ice when talking to Fox news….maybe he got educated after the taxpayers transported him back to Hobart.

    And finally, you are not talking about the direct quote from leading climate scientist Kevin Trenberth who clearly recognized the ‘stasis’ in temperatures, and hence tried to explain it along with Jim Hansen.

    Stasis is a scientific term for ‘pause’.

    Why are Trenberth and Hansen debating ‘pauses’ which don’t exist??

  4. Tyger Tyger


    I’m not going to discuss your “science” (or what Wayne Robinson calls your “proofiness” in the very informative Comments thread linked below in which you simply ignore questions about your scientific background and why you don’t publish a paper for peer review that will make all those bumbling climate scientists see sense.)


    I’m more interested in your credibility. You said @21:

    “The climate stunt. Our Antarctic explorers went south in summer to document warming and ended up being rescued from a surfeit of sea ice.”

    Then have no response to the article I posted @34, in particular,

    ‘On the expedition website, one of the nine stated scientific goals was to “explore changes in ocean circulation caused by the growth of extensive fast ice and its impact on life in Commonwealth Bay.”‘

    You imply they knew nothing of increasing sea-ice in that area when clearly they did. You also said @21:

    “The bozo [Professor Chris Turney] leading the expedition then tried to suggest the ice was ‘fractured’ off a melting glacier so really was a global warming entrapment.”

    In fact, the article linked below quite clearly distinguishes between the large ice floes from a nearby glacier the ship encountered and had to navigate through, and the “fast ice” they became stuck in:

    ‘Chris Turney said: “It looks like it was fast ice attached to the continent on the other side of the Mertz glacier and, for whatever reason, it was broken up and with strong southeasterly winds, chunks of ice were driven across our path. It was one of those events which happens occasionally (and with little warning). We were unfortunate enough to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.”‘


    You also seem to be the last denier on the planet still running the “Climategate” b/s, but again, have no response to the inquiry results posted @37. I was expecting a “Whitewash!” at least. The following seems apposite:

    ‘The EPA examined every email and concluded that there was no merit to the claims in the petitions, which “routinely misunderstood the scientific issues”, reached “faulty scientific conclusions”, “resorted to hyperbole”, and “often cherry-pick language that creates the suggestion or appearance of impropriety, without looking deeper into the issues.” In a statement issued on 29 July 2010, EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson said the petitions were based “on selectively edited, out-of-context data and a manufactured controversy” and provided “no evidence to undermine our determination. Excess greenhouse gases are a threat to our health and welfare.”’

    Bit close to the bone?

    Why should anyone believe a word you say?

  5. Interrobanging On


    Brad has 24 years at the CSIRO in a related field and *you* are referring him to an popular economics magazine for information after the tells you the pause is not a pause? Not too big for your boots?

    But then we have the perverse situation now that the better educated and experienced a person is on this topic, the *less* he or she apparently should be trusted on their specialty.

    Your sprays are regurgitation. The marketers are probably nodding with approval at the tactic of repeating something often enough for it to gain credence even with no substance.

    It is all there –

    the odd obsession with individuals (Gore, Flannery etc),

    the socialist bogey (best thing to do is pack enough stuff under the bed so they can’t lurk there, including those socialists at the IMF, say).

    the ranting about Climategate (ignoring the daily ‘Gates’ of the deniers who so willfully misrepresent what people say and so willfully fudge numbers. You will of course be following how Spencer fudges graphs or how Tol who grandstanded recently about the ‘alarmist’ IPCC has published papers with many errors, misrepresented Stern etc).

    the pretense there is science in the sort of nitpicking of other people’s results that passes for virtually all denial ‘science’ (in case you haven’t noticed, the climate system and its interactions with the hydrosphere and biosphere are complex, so the demand of such huge precision at this point in time as *you* see fit is unjustified. There is a defined denier tactic of impossible expectations for this point in time).

    the inane ‘it doesn’t matter what Australia does because we are too small’ line (didn’t your Mum ever tell you everyone has to do their bit, and of course there is a tyranny of small decisions in this because there are so many countries, so only a handful even get to 5% of the total emissions.)

    add to that the implication that no-one else is acting and that, for whatever odd reason, there has to be ‘concerted’ action, whatever that means (the Abbott Government runs the ‘there must be an international agreement’ line, but then tries to remove discussion from the very body that might progress this in the G20).


  6. Tyger Tyger

    ‘The Science and Technology Select Committee inquiry reported on 31 March 2010 that it had found that “the scientific reputation of Professor Jones and CRU remains intact”. The emails and claims raised in the controversy did not challenge the scientific consensus that “global warming is happening and that it is induced by human activity”. The MPs had seen no evidence to support claims that Jones had tampered with data or interfered with the peer-review process.’

    ‘The report of the independent Science Assessment Panel was published on 14 April 2010 and concluded that the panel had seen “no evidence of any deliberate scientific malpractice in any of the work of the Climatic Research Unit.” It found that the CRU’s work had been “carried out with integrity” and had used “fair and satisfactory” methods. The CRU was found to be “objective and dispassionate in their view of the data and their results, and there was no hint of tailoring results to a particular agenda.” Instead, “their sole aim was to establish as robust a record of temperatures in recent centuries as possible.’

    ‘The [Pennsylvania State University] inquiry committee determined on 3 February 2010 that there was no credible evidence Mann suppressed or falsified data, destroyed emails, information and/or data related to the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report, or misused privileged or confidential information.’

    ‘The second [Pennsylvania State University] Investigatory Committee reported on 4 June 2010 that it had “determined that Dr. Michael E. Mann did not engage in, nor did he participate in, directly or indirectly, any actions that seriously deviated from accepted practices within the academic community.”‘

    ‘The [British Independent Climate Change Email Review] commission cleared the scientists and dismissed allegations that they manipulated their data. The “rigour and honesty” of the scientists at the Climatic Research Unit were found not to be in doubt. The panel found that they did not subvert the peer review process to censor criticism as alleged, and that the key data needed to reproduce their findings was freely available to any “competent” researcher.’

    ‘The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) had issued an “endangerment finding” in 2009 in preparation for climate regulations on excessive greenhouse gases. Petitions to reconsider this were raised by the states of Virginia and Texas, conservative activists and business groups including the United States Chamber of Commerce, the Competitive Enterprise Institute and the coal company Peabody Energy, making claims that the CRU emails undermined the science.
    The EPA examined every email and concluded that there was no merit to the claims in the petitions, which “routinely misunderstood the scientific issues”, reached “faulty scientific conclusions”, “resorted to hyperbole”, and “often cherry-pick language that creates the suggestion or appearance of impropriety, without looking deeper into the issues.” In a statement issued on 29 July 2010, EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson said the petitions were based “on selectively edited, out-of-context data and a manufactured controversy” and provided “no evidence to undermine our determination. Excess greenhouse gases are a threat to our health and welfare.”‘

    ‘The [Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Commerce] report, issued on 18 February 2011, cleared the researchers and “did not find any evidence that NOAA inappropriately manipulated data or failed to adhere to appropriate peer review procedures”.’

    ‘The Office of the Inspector General (OIG) of the National Science Foundation closed an investigation on 15 August 2011 that exonerated Michael Mann of Pennsylvania State University of charges of scientific misconduct. It found no evidence of research misconduct, and confirmed the results of earlier inquiries. The OIG reviewed the findings of the July 2010 Penn State panel, took further evidence from the university and Mann, and interviewed Mann. The OIP findings confirmed the university panel’s conclusions which cleared Mann of any wrongdoing, and it stated “Lacking any evidence of research misconduct, as defined under the NSF Research Misconduct Regulation, we are closing the investigation with no further action.”‘

  7. Tyger Tyger

    Brad @32: Thank you so much for your contribution.

    Ken @31: Thanks, you’ve made me look into it a bit more and helped me get a better picture of what’s going on. As I’ve said, I’m no climate scientist, but I know enough about the basics – the greenhouse effect and the conservation of energy – to know a continuation of the warming trend is inevitable. BTW, I did say, “A saturated salt solution [i.e. brine] freezes at -21.1 deg. C. …”, but in future I’ll be more precise. Thanks again. Meanwhile:

    “As every good climate science denialist knows, the fact that there’s a bit more sea ice in Antarctica is proof enough that global warming is probably a load of old Adélie penguin poo.
    “So when a ship carrying climate scientists on an expedition got stuck in that sea ice over Christmas it was time to sharpen the blogging knives with those stones of irony. …

    “On the expedition website, one of the nine stated scientific goals was to “explore changes in ocean circulation caused by the growth of extensive fast ice and its impact on life in Commonwealth Bay”. …

    “As counter-intuitive as it sounds, Dr Jan Lieser, lead author of the ACE CRC report, told me the increase in sea ice is consistent with the changes in a warming world.
    “‘The sea ice is sitting at the interface of the ocean and the atmosphere, and so it gets a double-whammy effect. We actually understand the physics of this quite well. It is because of the warming that we can see the sea ice increasing at the moment.’
    “[Dr Lieser] said increased wind, wave and storm activity in the Antarctic helped to stir up the waters, creating ridges and rifts that helps sea ice to thicken.
    “Professor Ian Simmonds, of the University of Melbourne’s School of Earth sciences, also told journalists that while it might seem paradoxical to have sea ice growing in a warming world, scientists understood the mechanisms behind it.
    “He said an increase in westerly winds across the continent which were linked to increasing greenhouse gas emissions were helping to create ideal conditions for ice to form, particularly in those areas where there have been marked rises in ocean ice.
    “But the paradoxes in the Antarctic don’t stop there.
    “There’s also a suggestion that a big contributor to the increasing sea ice could be the melting of the massive Antarctic ice sheet in the west of the continent.
    “According to the last IPCC report, between 2002 and 2011 the Antarctic ice sheet was likely losing ice at a rate of 147 billion tonnes a year – up from 30 billion tonnes a year over the previous decade.
    “A study published last year in the journal Nature Geoscience, concluded that all this added fresh water creates ideal conditions for Antarctic sea ice to form.
    “But the ACE CRC report notes that the current modest trend in rising Antarctic sea ice will likely be short lived.
    “The melting and break-up of glaciers, the changes in snowfall and changes in the air temperatures will all play a role in the future, says the report. …

    “So while some commentators prefer to rely on their intuition to form a view, the scientists travel to the world’s most challenging environment to get answers.”


    Am looking forward to reading your responses to Brad @32 and tonyl @33.

  8. Brad

    Regarding scientists selling the message, I would recommend the recent documentary Thin Ice available from http://thiniceclimate.org (have to pay to rent it, though). This film was presented (perhaps, it’s debut) at the American Geophysical Union Fall meeting in San Francisco last December. Made by a Kiwi geologist, the 73 minute film lets the viewer meet a number of researchers, watch them in the act of collecting data (of interest to a career research scientist like myself), and let them provide their own explanation in their own words. I’d be interested in the opinion of this film by a ‘lay’ audience.

    During 24 years at the Continuous State of Internal Reorganisation, I’d be hard pressed to remember a time when we scientists weren’t nagged about needing to do a better job to get the message across. It’s not that easy to do when you’re flat out trying to keep up with the immediate needs of the job. That’s why we hire science communicators who, frustratingly, keep imploring us to make it simpler. I suppose I could ask the rest of the world to get up to speed with differential calculus and turbulence theory – like that’s every going to happen. Personally, I welcome the new avenues suggested by the advertisers – I think they are likely to be more effective at changing behaviour of the masses of disinterested people.

    Ken @31, The ‘pause’ is not a pause. More likely it’s simply a shift in where the energy imbalance is being stored from the lower atmosphere to the ocean. The atmosphere and the ocean are intimately connected and exchange heat with each other all the time. The temperature dynamics of water bodies are sensitive to changes in longwave radiation (I spent decades personally measuring this and can assure you that the theory is supported by the evidence).

    Furthermore, people love to draw wrong conclusions from subsampling time series over short intervals. Water clarity data from Lake Tahoe are a classic (non-AGW) example (http://terc.ucdavis.edu/research/clarity.html). In the late nineties-early noughties, some were arguing that the lake was getting clearer in summer and the problem of chronic decrease in water clarity had come to an end.

    I remember Paul Falkowski (trust me, a very famous biological oceanographer and expert on photosynthesis) telling us at a symposium at ANU in 1994 or 5 words to the effect that ‘..there is as much heat in the top 10 metres of the ocean as in the entire atmosphere’. That message always stuck in my mind and is probably the reason why I roll my eyes when I hear people obsess about the temperature of the atmosphere. Paul was reminding us of the fact that most of the energy budget action happens over the 2/3 of the planet that are the oceans. Given that the upper mixed layer of the ocean is in the range 50-100 m deep that means a 1 C change in atmospheric temperature would be the same amount of heat as a 0.1-0.2 C change in mean ocean mixed layer temperature.

  9. Ken Lambert

    Tyger Tyger

    ‘Hide the decline’….hiding something is hard to explain isn’t it?

    Good scientists recognize or even emphasise the areas of doubt. The pause is real, and they can’t properly explain it.

    Tim Flannery? Have I been listening to his identical twin …Tom Flannery??

    Heres a good quote:

    “Sea ice forms at the ocean surface once the surface temperature drops to the freezing point during fall and winter. The freezing point for salty ocean water is about 29oF (-2oC), slightly colder than it is for fresh water (32oF, 0oC). When sea ice forms, a lot of the salt is expelled from the ice crystal structure, but the ice still ends up being slightly salty (about 1% salt, compared with about 3.5% salt in the ocean). This is distinct from the ice of {ice shelves}, which originally formed from snow falling on land, and so are completely fresh. Sea ice can be up to 20 feet thick, and is thickest in areas where the ice is “land-fast” and stays there year-round. Around Antarctica, sea ice is more usually 1-6 feet thick and can be cut through by icebreakers, although ridges can form which are much thicker and prevent any ships from getting through it.

    Who cares? The formation of sea ice plays a major role in ocean circulation. As sea ice forms in the Antarctic and Arctic, the salt that is rejected from the ice is added to the underlying ocean, making it denser. The water then falls down to the ocean abyss, where it can move towards the equator. Dense, cold water from Antarctica can be traced along the sea bed all the way to the northern hemisphere. This “bottom” water is replaced by the poleward flow of warmer upper-ocean waters, in what has been called “The Great Conveyor Belt”. This is a major mechanism by which heat is moved from the equator to the poles, making the Earth habitable over a much larger region than would otherwise be possible. Sea ice has two other properties that are important to people who model climate. First, it is a great reflector: when ice is present, especially ice with snow on top of it, most of the heat in sunlight bounces off the ice/snow and returns to space, whereas ice-free water absorbs most of the heat. Second, ice is a great insulator: when ice is present, the rate of exchange of heat and gases (e.g., CO2) between the atmosphere and the ocean is greatly reduced. Thus, sea ice plays an important role in modeling how the ocean and atmosphere might change in the future. endquote

    Actually the freezing point of seawater is -1.9degC (-2 degC is good enough)

    Tiger Tiger, I think you found the freezing point of NaCl brine ie:

    “The lowest freezing point obtainable for NaCl brine is −21.1 °C”

    Antarctic seawater isn’t brine TT old son.

  10. Michael Jones

    Just the same as last week, this is mostly climate denialist propaganda designed to make it harder to sell the issue to the public:

    *Again the dual lies that A)Climate change has been sold as a disaster, and that B)It’s not working and should not be sold this way. The Alarm has never truly been raised about climate change, and doing so is a vital component of persuading the public. Hence why these people consistently ‘advise’ against it and talk down that angle.

    *Again the deliberately bad idea of keeping away from the facts, which is key to climate change denial, and obstruction of solutions. What these people are saying is that the misinformation on climate change should not be challenged, so they can keep making money off of it. And of course, the facts about renewable energy are also constantly misrepresented by the denialist camp.

    *A new but equally dishonest pitch from one of the people who brought us the guy who did more than anyone to sabotage and discredit climate change in the eyes of the public: BLAME THE PUBLIC, EVEN THOUGH IT’S NOT THEIR FAULT. The public has been lied to on this issue for years, but key to denialist strategy is the idea that this problem is EVERYONE’S FAULT, when in reality, it’s the fault of elites in business, politics, and the media. By blaming everyone, the elites actually push responsibility off of themselves for this mess, and con the public into thinking that we can;t solve this problem in the way we must (by reforming key pieces of our infrastructure by intervening in large, profitble industries).

    *Jane Caro actually puts fourth a vastly more valid and honestly argued point in half the words anyone else used.

    *The Article ends with some idiot babbling about reality tv, just to impress on everyone what a joke this issue is, and how important it is to pander to people on it.

  11. Tyger Tyger

    Thanks for that, Olivia@18. I’m not mortified at the thought the marketers COULD add value here. I simply don’t believe those featured in these two articles have. Your “dumbing the message down beyond recognition” speaks volumes, as do the constant references to those defending the science needing to give ground and be more “reasonable” in the face of the deception, cherry picking and viciousness that typifies the denier industry. It’s not lack of reasonableness that’s the problem here; on the contrary.
    It also frustrates and angers me when journalists do things like mimicking the tactics of the deniers, even if only in heedless, light-hearted fashion, by characterising “environmentally minded” readers as pseudo religionists.
    I occasionally fly off the handle in these forums – and sometimes regret it (on that, I think I owe you an apology, Mark Duffett, for my tone in some of our previous exchanges. While we differ as to solutions, I do believe you’re genuinely concerned) – but I’m merely a reasonably intelligent, well-informed layperson who is, yes, alarmed at what I’ve learnt about AGW and feel compelled to try and make a difference without honestly knowing the best way to go about it. I’m passionate, while at the same time recognising that passion can be a hindrance. But perhaps the key reason these debates often descend into slanging matches is the lack of engagement and support from scientists in the chaos and confusion of the market-place, where the bulk of us make up our minds about issues such as this. It follows that I agree with you 100% when you say, “lets at least start entertaining something other than the next dossier of atmospheric climate science as the engagement tool.”

  12. Ken Lambert


    I will give you a few good reasons why the public is not believing the climateers with their doomsday messages:

    1) Climategate – the cabal of scientists who emailed each other and then came ‘hide the decline’. Hiding what? – the inferred decline in temperatures which rendered tree rings off-script after 1960. The public can be fooled some of the time, but ‘hiding the decline’ (in a method of measuring temperatures) cannot be explained away by any scientist sophistry. The boys were just hiding a bit of the data which did not fit the script – a cardinal crime in the objective pursuit of scientific truth. The wide publicity before the Copenhagen circus created watershed public distrust.

    2) With the notable exception of Margaret Thatcher (some time ago), the political barkers of catastrophic climate change by polluting CO2 emissions have been overwhelmingly of the Left. Ex-Maoists, Trots, Greenies and sundry extremist ratbags who last week were smoking mushrooms all climbed on the climate bandwagon as the new secular religion preached against our energy gluttony and dirty fossil fuel habits. The average punter doesn’t trust or believe the political Left.

    3) Crying wolf, making doomsday predictions and doing a Tim Flannery. Poor Tim predicted that rivers would never flow again, dams would never fill and we would all be dry fried in a spinifex dustbowl. This was before the deluges of 2011 and 2012, the Brisbane flood and 90% dam levels in most of our major cities.

    4) The climate stunt. Our Antarctic explorers went south in summer to document warming and ended up being rescued from a surfeit of sea ice. The bozo leading the expedition then tried to suggest the ice was ‘fractured’ off a melting glacier so really was a global warming entrapment. This was bleedingly wrong and the flat white stuff surrounding the boat was unmistakeably multi-season sea ice which in fact was evidence of cooler summers – not global warming. The stunt got huge publicity and heaped ridicule on the rescued, further destroying public trust in the advocates of man made climate change.

    I’ll stop there.

  13. Pedantic, Balwyn

    Interesting commentary, but none hit the mark and you have to look a history to understand why. When John Howard lost power there was political consensus about the need to take action on global warming, he even committed to an Emissions Trading Scheme to start in 2012; despite some members of the Party, like Tony Abbott, and sections of the public being sceptics.
    Rudd won power promising to introduce an ETS earlier than Howard. In government Rudd’s ETS morphed into the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme.
    When Abbott deposed Malcolm Turnbull he abandoned support for the CPRS, a double win for Abbott because he thought climate science was crap and it gave him a stick to beat Labor.
    Ultimately Rudd’s CPRS was defeated on the floor by the LNP and Greens and it was the beginning of the end for Rudd.
    When Julia Gillard took Labor to the 2010 election she said she would not introduce carbon pricing, however under pressure from the Greens in a minority government Gillard launched a market-based carbon price policy.
    This gave Abbott a fantastic opportunity to claim that Gillard broke her promise. And gain massive support from miners and industries paying for carbon pollution. Even more cleverly he linked the “ carbon tax” to increased power prices, especially when News Ltd keep telling you it’s hurting your hip pocket nerve.
    Meanwhile Labor was completely blind-sided. It was unable to defend a great big tax or that power price increase stemmed largely from infrastructure upgrades. It lost any credit it may have gained for proposing the solution being adopted by the rest of the world, and it can only blame itself.
    But what to do? There is no easy solution, because our most profitable industries are also our biggest polluters and will do anything to convince the public that carbon pollution is a fallacy and/or it will lead to job losses etc. So any strategy has to demonstrate that putting profit ahead of the future is unacceptable and that there are clean energy solutions to provide both power and jobs that won’t kill us off long term. Good luck, but find someone with real credibility to tell the story and who has the guts to with stand the brickbats that will come his or her way.

  14. rhwombat

    “…an experiment judged heretical by some environmentally minded readers”
    Heretical? So you subscribe to the religious trope promulgated by the Merchants of Doubt do you Cathy? The denial of science evident in this “debate” is not heresy, it’s venal bullshit, promulgated by the professional liars, lobbyists, legal mercenaries, lackeys, press goons and political parasites that are entirely defined by their desperate sucking on the teats of Rupert’s Puppet Show for Privileged Progeny. Perhaps you nonscientists should realise that you can only buy insulation from physical reality temporarily. Eventually someone has to pay – though the principle of consumer capitalism is that the person who pays is always someone else.

    The reason why the reality of imminent Climate Change is not being addressed in Australia has nothing to do with failure of communications or marketing – it is because anthropogenic climate change in Australia has been deliberately politically polarised. The only way of getting Abbott and his bunch of feral clowns elected was to trash the idea that we are responsible for what happens to our country and the planet. From the dumping of Rudd (for dallying with the ETS), to the installation of Toady (“Crap happens to someone else”) Rabbott as figurehead of the Lackey National Party by Minchin the Merciless (hello New York!) and beyond to the crucifixion of Gillard (“She lied about the carbon tax! Burn her!”), Oz politics and identity has pivoted on denial of responsibility for doing anything about climate change.

    Asking a bunch of marketeers how to unsell the most recent big Con in Oz history (after Iraqi WMDs, AWB, and screwing Timor for Woodside…I wonder what Lord Downer of Cyprus thinks about CC?) demonstrates little except their hubris (or amorality): “Don’t blame us or our paymasters for the bullshit, we were only following orders, and science doesn’t pay enough to keep us creatives in designer gear now that you killjoys have killed the tobacco dollar and are working on alcohol, gambling and fast food”. A climate change soap opera will really get the youth demo out behind selling carbon…ated drinks – really? At least Caro points out that the climate communicators have been doing a damn good job of communicating the urgency and consequences of wilful and complicit denial. Still this little exercise in taking the temperature of the polity was useful for demonstrating the continued presence of the parasitic classes.

    Letting the apologists explain not what they would do (with the exception of Caro, who

  15. Interrobanging On

    A bit suspicious of giving the word to marketers. I would have thought it obvious that cynical spin and lack of substance is part of our problem.

    It is hard to equate something like Guthrie’s pomposity that the majority don’t believe the real message with this from Crikey today: ‘Some 56% of voters believe climate change is real and caused by humans, the highest level recorded since Essential began asking about climate change belief in November 2009.”

    56% is pathetic and shows how Australians in particular are susceptible to bullshit, but it isn’t the figure a Guthrie claims. Do the marketers know all?

    And the implied blame for the ‘name calling’ being with those on the science side is rich. The ‘deniers’ tag (or the ugly denialist) is largely because of the dishonest masquerading of deniers as sceptics, which has to be exposed and in response to terms like ‘warmist’ or a lot worse – ‘climate Nazis’ is coming in.

    The calamity idea being wrong has a grain of truth, and firefighters and grannies are getting out there. But there is as much alarmism on the denier’s side and it doesn’t hurt them apparently.

    ‘Whyalla will be wiped out’ is good or bad marketing? Those billboards in the USA equating those concerned with climate change with Osama Bin Laden and the Unabomber not a negative message?

    Perhaps the marketers are right about wrong messages. Why not one of these lot volunteering some time about helping on this?

    Who is able to change (not the cranky old curmudgeon I know who listens to Alan Jones every day – he will deny until he dies or is told by Jones or the like to change his tune)? Why one side can get away with alarmism about the economy, but the other does not about climate change? That sort of thing.

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