Piggybacking on Carl Pope's blog today, something dawned on me watching the Live Earth concerts this weekend, and the inevitable right-wing, Drudge-driven bitter response. That is, far too often those who want to curb climate change fall into the trap of entering into the energy lobby's talking points, or frames.
In PR, we call it 'getting into the weeds' (actually, probably everyone calls it that). Whether it's getting into a back and forth over whether the concerts were a "success" or more often getting into a fight over whether there is "debate" among scientists on human contribution to climate change, our response is too often to argue on the other side's turf. At that point, we're getting off message and losing the debate.
I know, I know, it's really tough to not want to throttle someone's neck when they trot out the two or three industry-paid "scientists" who debate the facts or when anti-environment flunkies selectively cherry-pick concert stats. But, really, it's just not worth it. So here's the new talking point:
As in, they say: "There's not a consensus on our affecting global warming."
You say: "So what if you've got two people who say otherwise? So what if we choose to create jobs by investing in new technology like wind and solar power? So what if we clean up our air a little by encouraging cars that have fewer emissions? So what if we finally stop being held by the short and curlies by the Arab oil nations?"
Or they say the concerts weren't as big as Live Aid.
You say: "So what that only 2 billion people participated? So what if we have hundreds of millions, if not billions, save in energy bills and cut power plant emissions by turning the thermostat up a couple degrees in summer and down a couple in winter? So what if all those people switch to energy-saving lightbulbs or look to get relief at the pump by buying hybrid cars, or car pool, or bike to work? And, so what if all those people vote for candidates that are for finally bringing about better emission standards?"
Overall, "So what? Tell me what bad will happen if we create jobs, lead the world in new energy, cut our energy consumption and bills, stop paying Arab monarchies for oil and make the air cleaner? For all the talk of some mythical debate over global warming and concert stats, tell me what in the hell bad will happen if we do all those things? Name me one bad thing that will happen if we reduce carbon emissions. Because I can tell you that there's a heck of a good chance something bad will happen if we don't, and I have tens of thousands of scientists who say I'm right."
Arguments like that bring the debate back to our turf and force the real question to opponents of fighting climate change, denying them the opportunity to cloud and misdirect the debate. There simply is no come back to the "so what" talking point.
So use the comments below to shout out your "So What?" talking point. I'll start. "Hey Rush Limbaugh, so what if today I put a sign on my door to remind me to turn off the lights and AC when I go out? Why shouldn't you? Why shouldn't everyone?"