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Saturday
Mar122016

Weekend update: Another lesson from SE Fla Climate Political Science, this one on "banning 'climate change' " from political discourse

From something I'm working on ... 

The most important, and most surprising, insight we have gleaned from studying climate science communication in Southeast Florida is that there is not one “climate change” in that region but two

The first is the “climate change” in relation to which ordinary citizens “take positions” to define and express their identities as members of opposing cultural groups (ones that largely mirror national ones but that have certain distinctive local qualities) who harbor deep-seated disagreements about the nature of the best way to live.  The other “climate change” is the one that everyone in Southeast Florida, regardless of their cultural outlook, has to live with--the one that they all understand and accept poses major challenges, the surmounting of which will depend on effective collective action (Kahan 2015a). 

Each “climate change” has its own conversation.

For the first, the question under discussion is “who are you, whose side are you on?”  For the second, it is “what do we know, what do we do?” 

In Southeast Florida, at least, the only “climate change” discussion that has been “banned” from political discourse is the first one. Silencing this polarizing style of engagement is exactly what has made it possible for the region’s politically diverse citizens to engage in the second, unifying discussion of climate change aimed at exploiting what science knows about how to protect their common interests.

This development in the region’s political culture (one that is by no means complete or irreversible) didn’t occur by accident. It was accomplished through inspired, persistent, informed leadership . . . .

 

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Reader Comments (10)

"The most important, and most surprising, insight we have gleaned from studying climate science communication in Southeast Florida is that there is not one “climate change” in that region but two."

Anthropogenic climate change, and natural climate change?

March 12, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterNiV

@NiV--

Nope. "Who are/whose side" & "what do we know/do" "climate changes" are completely orthogonal to "human caused"/"natural cycles" ones.

The "2d converation" for sure features human-caused climate change. That humans were causing climate change was assumed by the SE Fla Climate Compact. And it is accepted too by the Republicans like Rep. Carlos Curbelo & others who've joined his climate-impact caucus.

And the in the 1st conversation, no one cares if "human" or "natural." Either way: if it's the 2d discussion, the question is "whose side are you on."


Curious: do you knowwhat % of Rs in US say "no warming" at all in recent decades? Numbers no different in SE Fla.

As usual, I'm talking about real people here; not the tiny tiny tiny fraction of the population who actually make arguments about IPCC data etc. That's really really boring stuff to ordinary people & completely unrelated to how they figure out what to believe when.

March 12, 2016 | Registered CommenterDan Kahan

Curious: do you knowwhat % of Rs in US say "no warming" at all in recent decades?

I was expecting the link to show me something about what you mean by "recent decades", and perhaps what trend if any occurs within "recent decades".

March 13, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterHal Morris

"That humans were causing climate change was assumed by the SE Fla Climate Compact. And it is accepted too by the Republicans like Rep. Carlos Curbelo & others who've joined his climate-impact caucus."

It was assumed by George Bush and the entire Republican side of Congress back in 1997 and subsequently when The US rejected Kyoto (Byrd-Hagel resolution). Such statements don't necessarily mean what you appear to think they mean, especially when they've been hammered out in difficult negotiations between political opponents. If my hypothesis is right, they'll say whatever they need to say to get the extra funding, and to minimise the damage done by the other side's requirements, while leaving themselves just enough wiggle room to excuse themselves to their own political supporters.

Subtleties of wording matter. What, precisely, did the R members of the compact say? And under what circumstances? I had a look at what I think might be the compact itself (the website is rather vague about what status these documents have) and it doesn't mention human causes. Neither did any of the interviews I could find with Curbelo, although I've not done an extensive search. Presumably you have some other document or quote in mind?

"Curious: do you knowwhat % of Rs in US say "no warming" at all in recent decades? Numbers no different in SE Fla."

What's your point? Again, precise phrasing matters. "Climate changes" is an entirely different statement from "climate has changed in recent decades". The first statement is true. The second statement is false.

You may be right in thinking that ordinary members of the public don't make the distinction, but I wouldn't bet on it, and even so you still need to present evidence.

Do D and R members of the general public differ in whether they distinguish natural from anthropogenic long-term climate change? Do the subset of Rs who accept the need to act on climate change make the distinction? As I recall, your Kentucky farmer paper indicated that they did. Does this distinction apply more generally?

March 13, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterNiV

@NiV--

I think my point is clear: that the two "climate change" discussions in Fla don't track disagreement over whether the changes are "natural" or "human caused."

I've presented evidence. Lots & lots, in this blog & in papers.

Your research is remarkably poor.

On Curbelo:


Curbelo was one of 11 House Republicans, out of 247, to sponsor a resolution last month recognizing humans’ role in causing climate change and pushing for more action to address global warming.

On NE Fla Compact:


The RCAP’s 110 action items aim to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to the effects of climate change over the next five years

also

Empowering Capable Climate Communicators ... Learn what must be done to mitigate, adapt to, and work toward reversing the adverse effects of human-induced climate change ... Learn from leading climate communicators so you can begin to communicate this important subject accurately and honestly to others."


There are interesting, complicated, uncertain things worth discussing. But debating basic, simple, obvious things like *this* is boring.

March 13, 2016 | Registered CommenterDan Kahan

@Halmorris--

The trend in % of Rs who say "no warming in recent decades" is noisy-- in part b/c people who characterize themselves as Rs change & in part b/c intensity of partisan identification (which is all the quesiton measures) changes in relation to events & elections, but the bottom line is that since highwater mark in 2006 (before release of Inconvenient Truth, which clearly magnified polarization) fewer than 1/2 of Republicans have said "no warming at all"

March 13, 2016 | Registered CommenterDan Kahan

Dan - Is that fewer than 1/2 or more than 1/3?

March 14, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterJoshua

"Your research is remarkably poor."

Really? :-)

Your link for Curbelow is to a news article that - as it typical in these sorts of things - doesn't quote the actual resolution sponsored. The actual resolution reads as follows:

The House of Representatives commits to working constructively, using our tradition of American ingenuity, innovation, and exceptionalism, to create and support economically viable, and broadly supported private and public solutions to study and address the causes and effects of measured changes to our global and regional climates, including mitigation efforts and efforts to balance human activities that have been found to have an impact,

Note how carefully worded that is! "Study" the causes, "found" to have an impact!

Do you see what I mean? People read into such things what they expect to see, not what's actually there. Don't assume that journalists get it right.

Your second quote concatenates the two statements, but does not in fact say anything at all about a causal connection. "The RCAP’s 110 action items aim to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to the effects of climate change over the next five years". Reducing emissions may be argued to be a good thing for all sorts of reasons. Or it may simply be part of the deal - the price to be paid for the extra funding. If you pay me enough, *I'll* reduce my greenhouse emissions. That doesn't mean I believe in it. The statement doesn't say so.

Your third example is a course organised by a Harold Wanless and the CLEO institute in which various consensus scientists talk about the mainstream version of the science. If you can show that Harold Wanless is a Republican and in a position of authority in the compact, I'll give you that one. You've still a way to go on that.

Thanks very much for responding - seriously! I'm open to the possibility that I might be wrong, so it's useful for me to know your reasons for thinking as you do. But it kinda reconfirms my point. Two of the statements you cite (the ones definitely signed up to by Republicans) are very carefully worded so as to give the impression of support for the AGW mainstream to a casual reader, but without actually saying it explicitly. I doubt such a concatenation of near misses can be accidental. I think they're saying what they need to say to get the funding, but in their statements they're responding just to "climate change" and only committing to "study" what might be causing it. They can safely rely on Democrats to misread what they say.

(And incidentally, I've got no ideological problem with the idea of Republicans asserting an anthropogenic component to climate change - most educated climate sceptics would support that, and as I said above, the entire Republican side of Congress voted in 1997 for a resolution that, unlike Curbelo's, did explicitly assume anthropogenic warming. It's not contrary to canon.)

"but the bottom line is that since highwater mark in 2006 (before release of Inconvenient Truth, which clearly magnified polarization) fewer than 1/2 of Republicans have said "no warming at all""

You've done it again! The survey in your link asks "Is there solid evidence Earth is warming?" No mention of "recent decades"! No mention of "anthropogenic"!

As I just said, the distinction is important. Yes there has been warming. No, it hasn't warmed in "recent decades". No, there's currently no way to tell if observed warming was anthropogenic or not.

Pay attention to the wording!

:-)

March 14, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterNiV

@Niv--

It would certainly have taken you *less* time to find multiple other sources that show you you are
wrong wrong wrong about Curbelo's views on human causation & climate change than it took to do the amount of research you engaged in here to try to prove-- unsucessfully b/c there simply is no doubt about his views -- that you are right.

The argument about how the SE Compact's treating greenhhoue gas emission reductions as one of their objectives, & soliciting attendance to a communicator's meeting on how to communicate the "adverse effects of human-caused climate change," doesn't imply tha tthe SE Fla Compact believes in human-caused climate change-- why would I keep responding when you resort to that sort of sophism?

The lame "gotcha" point on the Pew survey item-- which again it would take less time to look up than it does to compose an information-free paragraph on -- is the same thing.

I just have zero interest in this sort of game at this stage.

Let me know when you have something interesting to discuss, okay?

March 14, 2016 | Registered CommenterDan Kahan

"It would certainly have taken you *less* time to find multiple other sources that show you you are
wrong wrong wrong about Curbelo's views on human causation & climate change than it took to do the amount of research you engaged in here to try to prove-- unsucessfully b/c there simply is no doubt about his views -- that you are right."

On the contrary. I first spent all of about 15 minutes looking for evidence that I was wrong in my guess about Curbelo. Coming up empty, the next logical thing to do is to ask the person who made the claim in the first place what their evidence was. That's usually a lot faster. Your first link took me all of two minutes to follow up the original source, and find that it didn't support the claim. So no, it took me considerably less time to try to prove you wrong than to find sources proving myself wrong.

This new link is a considerable improvement. There's no context given to the quote (and it's still somewhat ambiguous), which makes me slightly suspicious still, but I'd say that the balance of evidence now is that he's probably a believer. OK. That's interesting.

"why would I keep responding when you resort to that sort of sophism?"

Because many of the positions held in this debate involve subtle distinctions, and precision of language is essential in science and statistics.

I'm a mathematician. 'Sophism' is what we do. :-)

"The lame "gotcha" point on the Pew survey item"

It's not intended as a "gotcha", I'm making an important point - one you keep on ignoring or rejecting. You keep on conflating fundamentally different positions that sound superficially similar and citing them as evidence of what you say. I'm not saying your conclusion is necessarily wrong here, I'm saying the evidence you present is insufficient. This is not a trivial point.

You're not doing journalism or activism here, you're doing science.

The first page you linked to above shows a graphic where the question asked is clearly said to be "Is There Solid Evidence Earth is Warming?" That's a different question to the one shown in your second link where the question is "From what you’ve read and heard, is there solid evidence that the average temperature on Earth has been getting warmer over the past few decades, or not?" The latter is the right question, but the page you link to doesn't give the party breakdown of the answers - it gives the collective result from a sample that is only 25% Republican. And even then, only 42% of everybody said the warming was anthropogenic. How many Republicans?

"I just have zero interest in this sort of game at this stage."

This is how science works. You put up your favoured hypotheses and your evidence, and people who prefer different hypotheses try to pick holes in it. If your evidence survives the challenge, your scientific credibility goes up. There is no other way to acquire scientific credibility.

Why do you find this "boring" or "uninteresting"? Do you expect everyone else to just roll over uncritically and not argue with you? Or do you expect everyone else to find it obvious?

[You often respond to challenges to your deeply-held beliefs by saying they're "boring". It looks a bit like a defence mechanism to me - a way to avoid having to think about anything that might upset your comfortable assumptions. (I don't know, of course. I'm just guessing. And it's not really any of my business.) This is just a thought, and it's your decision, naturally, but the next time you find yourself saying something is "boring", I recommend you pause for a moment to check your own motivations for thinking it so. Gnōthi seauton.]

I don't find your work on this at all boring. I was interested enough to ask. :-)

March 15, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterNiV

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