Climate propaganda – health scares next?

Concern over climate change is cooling with the public. What is an alarmist to do? Some researchers have a suggestion. A letter in the journal Climatic Change , titled “A public health frame arouses hopeful emotions about climate change,” suggests promoting global-warming related health scares to engage the public.

The paper abstract reads:

Communication researchers and practitioners have suggested that framing climate change in terms of public health and/or national security may make climate change more personally relevant and emotionally engaging to segments of the public who are currently disengaged or even dismissive of the issue. To evaluate these assumptions, using a nationally representative online survey of U.S. residents (N = 1,127) conducted in December, 2010, we randomly assigned six previously identified audience segments on climate change to one of three experimental conditions. Subjects were asked to read uniquely framed news articles about climate change emphasizing either the risks to the environment, public health, or national security and the benefits of mitigation and adaptation-related actions. Results show that across audience segments, the public health focus was the most likely to elicit emotional reactions consistent with support for climate change mitigation and adaptation. Findings also indicated that the national security frame may possibly boomerang among audience segments already doubtful or dismissive of the issue, eliciting unintended feelings of anger. (See full paper here and some commentary on it here.)

Notice the goal of the paper is to elicit emotions rather than rational thinking. The researchers studied the best way to shape global warming propaganda to produce alarmist concern, in other words, how to best manipulate your thinking.

If the propagandists take the advice of the study, we will see more global warming health scare stories in the future. It’s all about perception rather than science. And remember, there is much money, and many academic and bureaucratic careers resting on your emotional perception of the issue.

See also:

The Case Against the IPCC and Proponents of Dangerous Anthropological Global Warming

The Assumed Authority

IPCC and Peer Review

A Basic Error in Climate Models

Climate Model Projections vs Real World Observations


  1. When climate change impacts all three areas mentioned (the environment, public health, and national security) I do not see what is wrong with evaluating which message is most important to the public. The increasing carbon dioxide concentrations caused by the significant increase in the burning of fossil fuel over the last 100 years DOES impact the global environment; and the change to our climate DOES impact public health and national security. I am glad people are trying to figure out the best ways to communicate that with the public.

    1. Ben, You seem to be confusing the fact that climate is always changing with the cause of the change. There is, in fact, no physical evidence that human carbon dioxide emissions play a major role in climate change. That role seems to be confined to computer models. If you have such evidence, I would be interested to see it. Carbon dioxide is a very weak GHG and its alleged effects are apparently overwhelmed by natural variation processes.

      1. Jonatha n, I suggest you read a bit more if you have not found any physical evidence. Maybe consult an introductory text book such as Atmospheric Science (Wallace & Hobbs) to gain an undestanding of these processes that are well documented. The absorbtivity of CO2 of the enrgey that the earth emits back into space is well documented. Also, maybe review the IPCC AR4 report — Work Group 1, start with chapter 1. Lots of good references there also for actual data.

      2. Appeals to authority don’t wash with me. Can you cite some specific evidence?

      3. First, appeals to peer reviewed literature and standard text books are not appeals to “authority” — not sure what authority you think I am appealing to? but here are some simple facts:
        Bobert Bell provided some excellent references for you to check in the next post.
        Carbon dioxide concentrations are increasing (google Keeling curve, or go to for a graphic showing the trend over the last 55 years. This curve is also well documented in the southern hemisphere.
        Carbon dioxide absorptivity is shown to be at the same wave length as the black body emissions from the earth.
        The atmosphere is warming. See for reconstructions based on measured temperatures and for a longer view based upon multiple older lines of evidence please see Mann,
        Michael E., Raymond S. Bradley and Malcolm K Hughes. 1994. Northern Hemisphere Temperatures During
        the Past Millennium: Inferences, uncertainties, and Limitations. American Geophysical Union. V3.1 14 Feb 1994
        That ought to get you started.

      4. I will ignore your obvious bias towards Skeptical Science, because they have very easy to follow arguments, and supporting evidence links to the tougher science that explains to you why, individual CO2 lifespan is not what is at issue here. It is the turn around time of the CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere called the global atmospheric lifetime that is at the crux of the problem (yes there is a problem), and to quote a reader there.

        If I were presented with the “iconic list” either in rebuttal or simple confusion, I would be tempted to simply by-pass it and say “Look, we KNOW (from direct and proxy measurements) that the planet’s CO2 blanket is more than a third thicker than it was before the industrial revolution. We KNOW (through carbon isotope signatures) that we’re the ones thickening it. We KNOW that CO2 traps infrared – we can measure the effect both in the lab and from satellites. And we KNOW that global (atmospheric and ocean) temperatures are rising.”

        Now, you will request that I appeal to some “authority” to prove this, correct ?

        Click to access nph-iarticle_query

        I could go on and on appealing to authority, and you would come back with Wattsup, Climate Depot, World Climate Report, and other non-researching PR think tanks dedicated to the spread of misinformation (in my opinion).
        Towards what goal? refute your assertions, change your mind, persuade other people ? Would you really consider “evidence”, or put aside your bias, and point to what science you think is wrong, and why without authority ? I seriously doubt it.

  2. The idea that this author seems to think scientists/researchers get more money to fund their research than large energy companies get in subsidies, which in turn spend “profits” to counteract said research, makes this piece a joke.

    Furthermore, if you don’t think the rise in Air Quality Alerts due to high temperatures and humidity isn’t a health problem, you cannot be honestly looking at both sides of this issue.

      1. Since the data and projections indicate that climate change due to increasing carbon dioxide is a real issue, then shouldn’t research funding increase?

      2. That’s great John, but you don’t mention that the five largest oil companies earned $33.5 Billion total in profits in the first quarter of 2012 alone. Why do they need subsidies if they are raking in that much cash? To drill more wells and lay more pipe? You do realize that fossil fuels are a finite resource, right? Regardless if climate change is real or not, we will eventually run out of oil and will have no use for those wells or pipeline. That is the reason why we should be researching green technology. But no, you’d rather dismissively call people “alarmist” and get upset that they are now using the same emotion eliciting techniques as Big Oil.

      3. The so-called “subsidies” for Oil & Gas is actually the depletion allowance, available through the IRS code. The depletion allowance, like depreciation, is a form of cost recovery for capital investments. It is intended to provide funds for additional exploration to replace the mineral produced. That is quite different from the outright grants and loan guarantees given to alternative energy ventures.

        Yes, fossil fuels are ultimately finite but the resource is vastly more than the peak oil crowd supposes as recently proven by the shale oil & gas boom.

    1. I see you’ve already made up your mind – follow the money unless it
      implicates your position.

      I believe – based on the
      evidence – that BOTH are compromised. You seem to think that corporate money gets the conclusions it pays for
      but government money doesn’t.

  3. I find this rather amusing, an obviously right leaning article pointing out tactics used by global climate change scientists to better inform the public and better keep them engaged. The right hires think tanks and fringe scientists all the time to spread disinformation about Climate Change, and to otherwise cast doubt on anything scientific, whether it’s climate change or evolution, so of course the Climate Change community has to change tack to combat this steady stream of nonsense. Sadly, as is often the case with science, if the subject is too challenging or complex, people tune out after the first long sentence, and are much more likely to latch on to simple buzzwords and easy to grasp concepts, even if flawed or outright erroneous. I can imagine that with the unstable economy right now, and several other factors, that most people probably are more concerned with other things than global warming, it much easier to be concerned with the near-term impact of joblessness than the long-term implications of a rise in sea level of 3.7mm per year. For those of us who actually study this or follow it though, the trends, despite the protestations and lies of the Koch crowd, are alarming, as are the ever increasingly dry and hot weather patterns, at least here in Colorado, where the long-term trend has been toward drier years over the last 20-30 years. Perhaps burying your head in the sand or busying oneself with immediate problems is easier or more comforting than thinking about what might be happening with our climate, but such modes of operation are hardly conducive to longer or better lives.

  4. “Notice the goal of the paper is to elicit emotions rather than rational thinking.” Could that be because the nation is too busy watching Jersey Short and American Idol to really do any rational thinking?
    They didn’t have to scare me with health concerns; the state I live in is on fire. Up here in the mountains, we aren’t used to 100+ degree heat. Just like the rest of the nation, we’re breaking heat records left and right. Ah well, we can sit in the AC and watch cooking shows and try not to think about what kind of place we’re leaving behind for future generations… much easier that way.

    1. We’re breaking cooling records where I am at, so the climate must be getting cooler.

  5. Since you are fond of See Also’s that include the opinion
    pieces. Here is a See Also from actual climate scienctist, and, and some opinion
    pieces for your echo chamber. Maybe this will clear up some of your misinformation


    See also:

    Carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane (CH4) are the two largest contributors to radiative forcing by long-lived greenhouse gases, accounting for about 80% of the total (2.29 out of 2.81 W m-2 in 2010; see: In contrast to short-lived species like black carbon, whose Arctic emissions only affect Arctic climate, CO2 and CH4 emissions from anywhere on Earth will impact Arctic climate. Both these greenhouse gases have long atmospheric residence times; the residence time of CH4 is about a decade due to photochemical loss (Forster et al., 2007), and for CO2, whose loss from the atmosphere is controlled by many processes with different time scales, it is much longer (Tans, 2010). CO2 released in the past and future decade will remain a global warming driver for most of the century.

    Click to access ArcticReportCard_full_report.pdf

    1. Bob,

      Regarding a contention in your first NOAA reference: Climate alarmists (and NOAA) maintain that human emissions of carbon dioxide will accumulate to dangerous levels because they say that CO2 stays in the atmosphere for 50- to 200 years. However, based on 35 studies of isotopic analysis, the actual residence time is less than ten years. See: That study cites 35 separate papers showing the residence rate of less than ten years.

      I regard anything from Real Climate and Skeptical Science as pure propaganda.

      1. You really believe this one piece of (cough) research, that includes the phrase “Greenhouse Effect Global Warming” dogma. Is an unbiased, peer reviewed, scientifically validated major work of research from a Geologist, that goes against all other physicists and climate scientists understand, is convincing ? Funny, my dad was a Geologist too, that does NOT make him competent in climate science. So, where has this research been published ?? Oh wait, it has not been.

        Researchers Richard Bellerby, Are Olsen, and Gisle Nondal wrote a series of articles in Norwegian newspaper Forskning
        about Segalstad’s stated beliefs and research on human CO2 emissions and how they do not affect climate change. The researchers went through Segalstad’s points and gave counterarguments, concluding that he had used “incorrect interpretations of laws and geochemical data, in addition to a complete neglect of published measurements”. They also repeatedly mentioned that Segalstad has yet to publish his CO2
        research in any “recognized scientific journal”.

        You regard Gavin at Goddard climate researcher as propaganda, and yet pro-offer this hack as something else ? You have a serious problem of credibility to address in depiction of what is an actual science researcher. Your posts are propaganda sir, and nothing else.

      2. Hmm, “Speaking at the 2nd International Conference on Climate Change hosted by the Heartland Institute on March 8, 2009” So, Heartland Institute, didn’t these guys create a series of shock advertisement equating the Unibomber Hilter, etc.. with AGW supporters ? Hmmm.. This guy is a piece of work for sure, and entitled to his opinion, but until he publishes his research, and let’s others validate his methods in the public scientific sphere, it’s a bunch of hot air.

      3. Interestingly, I googled the text of your replies and found their source to be what it’s creators to be a coercive “outing and shaming” site called Denier list.
        Never mind their motives, you can always get some college credit to do a leftitst’s political bidding. Nothing new there.
        What I did find in a random check of your well-formated package of links were a curious contradiction. While a title will broadly claim anthropogenic causes to climate trends, they show charts showing that trend starting before the industrial age. Even a trained chimpanzee can see something fishy in that.
        It’s also germane to point out that you get the science that you fund, and after 3 decades of this activism driven government and grant-driven output, that there are good reasons to remain sceptical.

    2. Bob, Thanks for the great list of references. They are informative. I hope other readers take the time to look into them and look beyond the rhetoric that passes for news columns.

  6. As evidenced by many commenters on this topic, the underlying theme with global warming supporters is this: average citizens – but only those who disagree with gw – are too stupid to grasp the presented facts. Rather than reason that joe citizen has analyzed the facts and rejected the conclusion as irrational, or come to the conclusion they need more information before making a decision, the assumption instead is they are retards.

    This is the pattern of the political left in history. Agree with the “current truth” or be “educated” until you do, which in essence means to trust your political masters to know what’s best for you. If that means fabricating supporting data or eliminating unfavorable data, so be it.

    When you resort to
    propaganda, that confirms your aim is social control and not science.

    1. Well, you trust your doctor with your medical questions, right? Why not trust a climate scientist with what is happening to the climate? Because your “political masters” (love the conspiratorial tone) tell you too.

      Science isn’t politics — until it comes to ending subsidies for some of the richest companies in the world. It seems that some folks double down on their feelings when presented with contradicting evidence and facts.

    2. I agree that “joe citizen” is capable of understanding climate change. The odd part is that it is the climate change denialists that appear to revert back to the off-topic rants you just presented when faced with a solid review of incorrect facts or flawed interpretations. Almost everyone I sit down with and talk with can understand climate change.
      “a b”, the question is, why did you try to turn this into a propaganda statement instead of focusing on facts or actual analyses that you don’t agree with? Your post attempts to spread more propaganda than any other in this series of posts.

      1. That was a neat and tidy answer. He’s “capable”? With a little propaganda from the left, er, liberals, er progressives, er brights, he’ll realize his health and security depends on believing in the ice age, er, global warming, er man-caused global warming, er climate change. Do you not see the delicious irony?

        Leftists have turned this from an article pointing out the propaganda being urged by their brothers in arms into a debate about the veracity of AGW itself, so kindly refrain from accusing me of being off-topic.

        AGW is no different than any other leftist political cause in respect to thinking those who disagree are dumb. Not that calling someone who points out contradictory evidence shouldn’t be called a “denier”, a “flat-earther”, a racist or any number of vile terms meant to brand and therefore socially control those who disagree, right? Not very scientific of you.

        Thanks for making my point.

  7. This post has apparently ruffled the feathers of the catastrophic anthropogenic global warming (CAGW) crowd. Notice that the arguments are appeals to authority and argument from analogy – both invalid forms. When asked to present specific physical evidence that CO2 is the major cause of warming, they again appeal to authority without citing specific evidence.

    One comment complains that a source I cited is not in a peer-reviewed journal but then cites articles in a Norwegian newspaper to counter the source. He also cites propagandist blogs at RealClimate and Skeptical Science as his authority.

    As the late Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan is reported to have said: “Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts.” And the facts of observational data do not support CAGW. It exists only in computer models based on faulty assumptions.

    1. No, what riles me up, is your misinformation (albeit my understanding of the actual facts, in the end that all any speaker has), and your appeal to authorities that not even up to the job of being authorities. You use disambiguation to argue your point, and lament authority, and simultaneously endeavor to conjure up authority from fringe ideas and made up facts you cannot even back up with research. . You appeal to not authorities, but hacks, and fall back on ad hominem attacks on actual working climate scientists like Gavin Schmidt, Mike Mann, Eric Steig, Stefan Rahmstorf, Jim Bouldin, Ray Pierrehumbert, and David Archer etc.. As for the newspaper, the relevant point was that your basis for your conclusion was not from peer reviewed research (that actually requires reproducible data and conclusions) but unpublished Norwegian denialist who is unable to get publish (I know, it’s a big good old boy conspiracy in climate research that keeps him unpublished), and who cannot respond to counter-points (even from journalists) about his methods and conclusions. You are not entitled to your own made up facts sir, and no matter how many times you repeat to yourself, or on your blog, they will not self-substantiate. Start substantiating your facts with research, drop the ad hominem angles, get off your hypocritical podium, and realize that unless your actually writing the models, studying the physics, processing the data, building reconstructions to the observed data, and actively researching a specific piece of the puzzle, you have to appeal to authority at some point. Once you do that, then you can start evaluating those authorities without bias, that is impossible from your starting point as I see it. The models are actually pretty darn accurate (not perfect, and will never been, but climate scientists do not argue that, only denialist do), and the do support AGW. Why don’t you point out one single facet of the assumptions, and models that is incorrect, and support that conclusion without an appeal to authority sir ? You cannot do this, because you are not doing the science, and you must appeal to some authority at some point. Either that, or you do not view your own fact finding missions, as giving others authority in
      specific vertical expertise. It is your picking of authorities that makes me want to projectile vomit, and from what I see, you not very good at with respect to climate science.

      1. The peer reviewed research, in most any case that has been exposed to sunlight, appears to be peer-reviewed by people with all the same things to gain as the authors.

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