The messenger, not the message

It’s the messenger not the message. We cannot persuade deniers to embrace regulations to cut greenhouse gas emissions. It’s not for lack of trying: campaigners have hectored deniers with marketing and propaganda; politicians have preached to them from pulpits garlanded with organicly-grown, leafy fronds; scientists have painstakingly built their case, crunching up mountains of numbers and disembowling icecores which witnessed mammoths and the ancestors of mammoths.

It’s not to do with getting the story right or the science right. We are treading on an emotional toe, not a rational toe. It is the toe of freedom.

To accept the need for regulation of emissions is to accept another limitation on freedom. To acknowledge that there are commons is a blow to individual rights. These are blows to the heart and not to the mind. People for whom freedom is the strongest emotion, explosive and tinder dry.

What will make him listen? He won’t listen to campaigners. If Washington says jump, he’ll stick up a finger. If the sheriff or the pastor says jump, he might shuffle grumpily. If the wife says jump, he jumps and again.

This is important because a vociferous minority is as good as a majority. Tough action on emissions needs unanimity. Meaning that we will have to win over the most embittered deniers. That will only be through those closest to them.

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