Some of the best pollsters have known for years that progressives can and should talk about climate change (see Mark Mellman on climate messaging: “A strong public consensus has emerged on the reality and severity of global warming, as well as on the need for federal action” [5/09]). Mellman calls the polling that suggests one shouldn’t talk about global warming, a “politically na¯ve, methodologically flawed and factually inaccurate.”
Sure, if you talk about any subject in a clumsy fashion you will turn people off “” just look at how Obama and major progressive politicians managed to turn a winning political issue, health care reform, into an unpopular one! [see "Can Obama deliver health and energy security with a half (assed) message?"]
Much of the climate language that gets tested is truly lame. But the fact that poor messaging fails is not an argument for not doing messaging on the subject at all!
Science-based (dire) warnings are an essential part of good climate messaging — along with a clear explanation of the myriad clean energy solutions available today and the multiple benefits those solutions that deliver, including millions of jobs, energy security, competitiveness, and especially clean air and improved public health. Recent research supports that view (even though many in the media misreported the story).
Ironically, many people think the failure of the climate bill proves that talking about climate change doesn’t work — because they don’t realize that the messaging campaign built around the climate bill was based on not talking about climate change! Those still confused on that matter should read “Can you solve global warming without talking about global warming?”