Progressive Websites "Actively Censor" AGW Issue?
- Here's an odd phenomenon: progressive-type (but not explicitly
environmental) websites make almost no mention of AGW, and
may even be censoring it.
March 12, 2008
Donkeys, Ice Cream and Climate Change
George Marshall @ 12:51 pm
Why do the websites of progressive civil society organisations pay
virtually no attention to climate change?
Here's an interesting experiment. You can measure how seriously an
organisation takes an issue by finding how many times it mentions it on
their websites. After all, a website will contain its entire public
output: every report, press release and leaflet. You can do it easily on
Google. All you have to do is type the word (or phrase in inverted
commas) you want to search followed by the word "site" and a
colon followed by the domain name.
Two years ago, out of curiosity I typed "climate change"
site:www.amnesty.org into Google. Absolutely nothing turned up. Amnesty
International, the world's most prestigious human rights
organisation had not one single mention anywhere on its website of an
issue that, a according to IPPC estimates will generate 150 million
refugees by 2050 and, by the reckoning of the Pentagon and MoD, will
become one of the key causes of future conflict.
The Human Rights Watch website mentioned climate change 16 times. This
is slightly better until you consider the chances that any random phrase
will appear on a large website.
He goes on to mention other examples that he uncovered,
And WHY might this be so? Marshall speculates:
The people who lead liberal organisations seem to find it just as
difficult to accept climate change into their world view as people from
the free market right. Their politics were molded by the issues of the
1970s and 1980s- social inequality, nuclear proliferation,
neo-colonialism, gender issues, racism, homophobia. When they say that
it is hard to see what their organisation can do, they are projecting
their own confusion over how to absorb and respond to this vast new
The end result is that progressive organisations do not merely sideline
or underplay climate change: they actively censor all mention of it from
their materials. Internally they argue that it is outside the area of
issues relevant to their work. Publicly they do not deny the importance
of climate change: they don't say anything about it at all.
In doing this they are reflecting a wider social denial strategy, noted
in several academic studies. The large majority of people, whilst noting
that climate change is a serious issue, will admit to never talking
about it in their daily life. They are managing the problem by actively
excluding it from what sociologists call their `norms of
attention'. Ironically this strategy mimics a common social response
to human rights abuses: when asked, people admit that they heard the
screams in the night or they noticed that people had disappeared, but,
through a socially negotiated compact, they never discussed what they
know to be happening with each other.
"Actively censor all mention of it"?! Sounds like they
are shunning it -- really SHUNNING it. :-)
"Managing the problem by actively excluding it from what
sociologists call their `norms of attention'" reflects I think
less of an insidious "denial" problem and more of a general
sluggishness problem, like I spoke of in an earlier post
(desire to stay in the comfort zone; resistance to radical
change). It can be "denial" also if it gets out of hand,
becomes delusional, etc.
The sociology and social psychology of this subject
(and related stuff like peak oil) has so many interesting
facets and levels.
[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
- They censor it because people do not want to hear about bad news. It
is no fun. It is more fun to re-arrange the deck chairs on the
Titanic than to give up such a nice place and get into the life boats.
--- In firstname.lastname@example.org, "Alan" <aelewis@...> wrote:
> Here's an odd phenomenon: progressive-type (but not explicitly
> environmental) websites make almost no mention of AGW, and
> may even be censoring it.
> BEGIN QUOTE:
> http://climatedenial.org <http://climatedenial.org>
---(Original text abbreviated)---
> The sociology and social psychology of this subject
> (and related stuff like peak oil) has so many interesting
> facets and levels.