Written by: Nick Zaremba, Nimisha Thakur, Amanda Katherine Klaben and Connor Olson
Discussing climate change with skeptics and deniers can often seem pointless. It can be difficult to discuss the issue with someone who believes “the science behind climate change is weak or biased.” Such beliefs can lead to both parties talking over one another. These arguments about “weak science” or “climate change policy does more harm than good” are an attempt to persuade individuals by being relatable, this tactic is called framing. Framing can be used by any group not just climate deniers. For example it can be a very effective tool in furthering the discussion with a climate skeptic or denier to convince them of the severity of the issue. Recently EMPOWER students took part in a class discussion on how to better frame the conversation of climate change. Papers were discussed in which various frames were employed to convince an individual of the severity of climate change. These studies found that the local frame or stressing the effects that climate change will have on a certain regions is one of the most effective. The class then participated in an activity, utilizing the information provided by the paper, in which students developed frames to better inform a variety of individuals regarding the severity of climate change. The class was provided examples of individual cases including the reasons as to why the person did not think climate change was an issue or why they did not agree with policy that tried to mitigate climate change.
The discussion of framing was continued with a visit from Dr. Leigh Raymond, a professor of Political Science at Purdue University. Dr. Raymonds’ research focuses on how social norms or conceptions often affect environmental policy. EMPOWER students who attended lunch with Dr. Raymond discussed some of his most recent research which involved talking with farmers about the economic benefits of certain farming techniques which are also more environmentally friendly. Dr. Raymond’s presentation, titled Reclaiming the Atmospheric Commons: Carbon Pricing in the U.S. and Canada, on how framing an argument is used in policy decisions such as cap and trade of carbon emissions discussed how certain tactics are employed by various groups using frames in order to change current social norms and in turn provide a more compelling arguments. Dr. Raymond stressed how important the framing of a policy issue can be in order to acquire public support for environmental policy. He provided support of this through case studies in the United States and Canada such as RGGI (Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative) , the California dividend, and GreenON. By focusing on the need to change current social norms regarding Carbon Emissions, Dr. Raymond shifted the conversation and onus of climate policy provisions to all stakeholders of the environmental commons.