29 April 2012

The real climate message is in the shadows. It’s time to shine the light.

Updated 28 April 2012

The presentation '"Saving Lives: reframing climate change around health and livelihood" explores the issues presented in this post.  It makes the case for reaching out to conservative audiences so as to widen the political space for the necessary social-economic transition. It takes a critical look at climate change messaging to date, identifies its shortcomings, and, drawing on the cognitive sciences, outlines a human-centred communication that acknowledges the threats, demonstrates agency and inspires empathy.

by Daniel Voronoff

Posted 30 August 2011

There was more than one kernel of truth in the speech made by the Shadow Minister for Communications Malcolm Turnbull at the Virginia Chadwick Foundation back in July. But the one I’d like to look at is the analogy about how not listening to the science on climate change:
 …is like ignoring the advice of your doctor to give up smoking and lose 10 kilos on the basis that somebody down the pub told you their uncle Ernie ate three pies a day and smoked a packet of cigarettes and lived to 95.
Malcolm Turnbull was commenting on the perils of denialism and its toxic effect on public discourse, however, the comparison also holds a very literal and crueller truth – global warming is a threat to human health.
     Just as galling as the deadly effect of denialism is the long-standing tendency of the environment movement to avoid spelling out the brutal impacts of global warming, especially its adverse health and wellbeing effects, a habit epitomised by the Australian Government’s “Clean Energy Future” campaign. For a while now we’ve been hearing that it is somehow poor, dumb and ineffective communication to discuss and elaborate the problem of global warming, its dangers and how threatening to our lives and livelihoods it is. We’re told that it’s disempowering, a turn-off, and that such ‘apocalyptic rhetoric’ is, in part, responsible for the public’s lowered inclination to consider global warming important. Sometimes we’re even told that to mention ‘carbon dioxide’ and ‘pollution’ in the same breath is a fatal cause of distraction from the one and true communication goal.
     That goal, the message we ought to be on-about, is that renewable energy and energy-efficiency are new industries with immense investment and profit opportunities, which create jobs and, by default, makes our nation strong and competitive. When asked why we should put ourselves through all the trouble of rebuilding our energy system, and for that matter, the transport system, agricultural system, the built environment, etc, etc… this is the received answer. And remember: keep smiling and don’t mention the ‘nasty bits’. Although this message is clearly true, it’s painful to watch as opportunities to communicate the problem we face are lost, mainly because each moment is a rare and valuable opening to let people know, honestly, and in a way that connects with something that is precious and tangible and that everyone has, whether poor, fair or excellent: that is, their health.
     A study cited in recent times in support of omitting the nasty bits is Apocalypse Soon? Dire messages reduce belief in global warming by contradicting Just-World beliefs. Its main finding, unsurprisingly, is that when you present a frightening message about global warming to people, without telling them how to address the threat, they tend to become sceptical about the threat. But it’s worth noting one of the study’s conclusions is that the “findings extend past research showing that fear-based appeals, especially those not coupled with a clear solution, can backfire and undermine the intended effects of the messages [emphasis added].”
     A lot of research has gone into understanding the role of fear in motivating human behaviour, especially in the field of public health promotion (for example quit smoking campaigns), which can shed some light on this question of whether or not to address or omit the frightening truth. And, given that the Apocalypse Soon study tells us its findings are in broad agreement with the literature, I thought it might be useful to look over the finding of a meta-analysis of studies into the use of, what are known in the field as, ‘fear appeals’. In these analyses, the authors compile, compare and examine the findings of many similar studies and report on the results: the benefit being access to large sample sizes, lending strength to the evidence. But, before we go on, it’s useful to define a few terms used in the study that are common to the psychology literature.
     Firstly is the understanding of ‘perceived threat,’ which is said to be made up of two facets: perceived susceptibility to the threat (how at risk you feel) and perceived severity of the threat (how harmful it’s thought to be). Secondly, fear, being an emotion, is distinct from perceived threat, a cognition, but the two are, naturally, related: the higher the threat, the greater the fear. Lastly there’s ‘perceived efficacy,’ which has two facets: self-efficacy, the belief about one’s ability to respond to a threat (yes I can do it); and response efficacy, one’s belief that the recommended response can avert the threat (it will work).
     And the meta-study findings? “In sum, fear appeals appear to be effective when they depict a significant and relevant threat (to increase perceptions of severity and susceptibility) and when they outline effective responses that appear easy to accomplish (to increase perceptions of response efficacy and self-efficacy). Low-threat fear appeals appear to produce little, if any, persuasive effects… the advice to message designers is the same: A persuader should promote high levels of threat and high levels of efficacy to promote attitude, intention, and behaviour changes.”
     Some other findings:
  • Increasing the focus on severity in fear appeals appears to produce the strongest effects on perceptions. Changes in the message variables of susceptibility, response efficacy, and self-efficacy all produce moderate effects.
  • Importantly, there was no support for any hypothesized negative effects from fear appeals.
  • Strong efficacy messages are needed to match the severity and susceptibility messages otherwise ‘fear controls’ and defensive responses kick in.
On this last point the researchers note the risk associated with messages that induce fear is that they may backfire if the audience don’t believe they’re able to effectively avert a threat. In applying these findings to climate change communications, to my mind, this risk should be evaluated in the context of other risks inherent in the current, pivotal, carbon tax pitch, and beyond. The risk we face with the present suite of messages is that without stating the problem – namely the severity of the threat and our susceptibility to it – there is no argument for change. Without stating the threat, the public mind is lead to question, why a tax for innovation and jobs when the mining industry makes jobs anyway? Imagine the anti-smoking advertisement that fails to mention mouth and lung cancer, telling the smoker they should give up a pleasurable habit of ten years because, well, they’re certain to feel better. The evidence shows this appeal just doesn’t work.
     There should be no doubt about the applicability of health promotion to climate change, just go read the science. There isn’t much about global warming that doesn’t end in a fatal or morbid human consequence somewhere down the line, sooner or later. Indeed, sooner and later. And it’s precisely this point –the human health and wellbeing impacts – that should form the centre of our message. Let’s put aside the loss of the Great Barrier Reef and Kakadu National Park for a while and talk instead about heat stress, asthma, dengue fever, salmonella, drowning and third degree burns. We should tell about the economic disruption and food insecurity, and the implications of all of these for the livelihoods of our children. This is the sage advice of U.S. communications experts who’ve taken the trouble to consult with health professionals and develop a timely primer on climate change communications centred on health.
     To those who argue that recourse to ‘fear appeals’ is ‘manipulative’, my answer is: manipulation is when you lie, like saying climate change is crap, or omit the truth, like not mentioning that climate change is the problem and not spelling out its effects. By contrast, openly discussing the science – which is frightening – and broadcasting our common plight to our fellow Australians, is taking responsibility for the truth. So, there are three elements that should compose the shape the direction of communications about global warming – we must be honest and upfront about:
  • The severity of climate change impacts and our susceptibility to those impacts.
  • The real adverse human impacts: the loss of life and livelihood, compounding over the generations.
  • The action that we can take, that millions of Australians are taking, to stop this threat, and that we can win.
CSIRO recently published a study on public attitudes and feelings about climate change. The study surveyed about 5000 people and asked, among other things, what their feelings about climate change were. Significantly, fear was the most highly rated emotion felt by the 50.4% of respondents who believed that climate change was real and human-induced. This group was most likely to be “somewhat worried” and “very worried” about climate change and tended to perceive higher levels of personal harm from climate change than respondents who thought climate change was natural or wasn’t happening. To my mind this shows, from another angle, how perceptions of threat (susceptibility to and severity of climate change) and fear may shape an opinion about the issue.
     Another large survey shows that fifty-nine percent of Australian respondents thought that the region where they lived was vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, with two thirds of these respondents indicating that their location was “very” or “reasonably” vulnerable[9]. This result contrasts with that of Britons, who ranked the vulnerability of their location much lower. The researchers note that this may be due to how Australians are switched on to our continent’s natural climatic variability, and that in the words of Professor David Karoly (via Dorthea Mackellar), climate change will mean a country of more droughts and worse flooding rains. Again, these survey results show that in the public mind there is a well-founded perception of climate susceptibility and severity, indicating that an honest message on this theme would reinforce common understanding.
     I look forward, then, to seeing a communications campaign that kicks off with an advertisement that goes something like this:

“Good Health, Safe Climate”

A General Practitioner’s office. The Doctor sits on her desk and addresses the camera.

“As a Doctor, and a mother, I’m concerned about the health and well-being of my community. In my work I get to see the hardship that poor health can cause for people – and I get the opportunity to help my patients achieve good health. That’s why I’d like to tell you about the dangers that global warming and climate change pose to your health, and what you can do to protect yourself and your family.”

Images of people caught up in drought, catastrophic flood, bushfire and heatwave. The image of a child struggling with asthma. Doctor’s voice over:

“Scientists agree that greenhouse pollution causes global warming, making our climate change. It means more droughts, more floods, and more intense bushfires. Heatwaves will last longer, and it increases the likelihood of asthma and the spread of diseases like salmonella and dengue fever.”

Back in the Doctor’s office:

“And we now know that climate change is very likely to cause significant economic disruption, which means that our lives, and the lives of our children are at risk. But it doesn’t have to be like this.”

The Doctor is in a park. She joins a group of people. As she speaks, the camera slowly pans back revealing more and more people.

“I’d like you to join with me and millions of Australians who are standing up for good health and a safe climate. We’re taking action to stop the big polluters, by coming together and making our voices heard: by voting, letter writing, signing petitions, and talking to our neighbours and friends about this threat.”

The camera pans upwards revealing, from overhead, a large crowd spelling out: Good Health Safe Climate.

“Join us: what you do now can make all the difference.”
This isn’t the last word; it’s just the beginning, an outline of elements that should compose a broader narrative that puts the health of families, children and the populace, at the centre of the message. Here I’ve emphasised civic participation activities in the call to action, rather than a tax or jobs and renewables. This is because without empowered participation, neither the tax, nor renewables and the jobs, would even be on the agenda – nor would there be any hope of avoiding dangerous climate change.


  1. Eric Ward, ChiangMai, says:
    Thanks for reporting the research Daniel. I agree action should be based upon it.
    However, the proposed friendly doctor's chat seems far to, sorry to say, insipid. Just compare it with the Grim Reaper where not even millions of Australians were at risk. Now, especially if we understand the rapid catastrophe which would follow a huge methane release from the warming arctic, the lives of billions are at risk of sudden death.
    Perhaps somebody needs to let off an Atom bomb as a wake up call? Perhaps a TV ad starting with film of an H-Bomb test in the Pacific and say words like "and you thought this was bad? You ain't seen nothing yet" etc.

  2. Hi Eric,

    Thanks for your feedback. I also feel pretty frustrated at times about the discrepancy between the threat and our collective response. As I mentioned in the article, the idea presented is really just a start. The reframing of the issue as a health one is the first step, and there are many facets of this framing. I believe there's a good case for modelling our communications on some of the excellent health promotion that's happened over the years and in recent times. Importantly though, and something I haven't discussed in this article, is the role of supporting the efficacy part of the equation. That is, messages only go so far, supporting the ability to take action by making it accessible, convenient and fun is just as, if not more, important. Door knocking is a good example, having a good on-line campaigning platform would be another. Looking at the surveys I’ve cited, it appears that campaigning to date has successfully reached the early adopter cohort and well into the early majority. We need to reach into the ‘late majority’, who tend to be motivated by authority and social norms, so messages from doctors (nurses, fire-fighters), or from ‘people like them’ who’ve experienced extreme weather events and who’ve joined climate action, would be a good place to start.


  3. Good article. An issue is that humans have evolved in a situation where they've never before had the ability to affect the climate, so what they did was, at that level, immaterial. As a result we have no in-built long term threat assessment and response 'mechanism'. We only instinctively - emotionally - look over timescales we can control, maybe days or weeks. To go further means engaging the intellect - but any response to matters like life/death situations is emotional, not intellectual. That's the barrier an effective climate change advert has to surmount.

  4. Hi Tony,
    Thanks for your comment. You make some very important propositions that go to the heart of the issue: what are we? How do we perceive and make decisions? Are we capable of solving the problem? Existential stuff!

    I’d like to challenge a couple of the propositions, in the spirit of collaborative learning. In your post you make a distinction between emotion and the intellect when referring to facing and reasoning about climate change. The tendency to portray reasoning as a dichotomy between emotion and intellectual or ‘rational’ ‘faculties’ is very prevalent in Western thought, to the extent that it is a ‘common sense’ frame we apply to most conversation about how we reason. The frame, which describes a type of cognitive model, has been around a long time, it stems from the Enlightenment. It is still very much alive and well in our institutions, for example Treasuries, right-wing think tanks, media, and in corporations, which are dedicated to promulgating the ‘rational actor’ frame, where humans are coldly calculating maximisers of self-interest. On my reading of modern cognitive science this model has been soundly proven untrue in each and every of its facets. Rather, in contrast, human reasoning is emotional, and most of it is unconscious. Also standing in contrast to the ‘rational actor’ model is the finding that we are deeply motivated by empathy and reciprocation, the very premise of our existence as social beings, and our ability to survive and thrive. I invite you to consider that our tendency to co-operation is so in-grained that it passes mostly unnoticed; it is competition and conflict that stand out, and therefore appears more common, because it is against the grain of these human attributes.

    We, all of us, reason according to deeply held, emotionally laden, beliefs, often referred to as values, which shape and are shaped by our worldviews, which in turn are fabricated over time by life experience, family, peers, institutional and social context. Getting back to our capacity to address climate change, I reflect on my own motivations for involvement and basically it all comes down to: I really like life. My life, my wife’s, my daughters, friends, family, the planet’s. This is an emotion, it is instinctual. It sounds ‘reasonable’ to me, and I bet it sounds reasonable to you. But this is because we share the same values and worldview. But doesn’t everybody want Life? Yes, they do. Our challenge is to find the terms of common ground. I believe talking about health, well-being and livelihood is one such space.


  5. The psychology of climate change denialism seems to be very complex. You seem to believe that telling people just how dire the scientists say our environmental crisis is will have a net beneficial effect, that more people will be jolted into recognition and action than will completely reject the message. There are many in the climate change movement especially those that oppose incrementalism who would agree. At present I can't see that this is likely. In fact it seems to me that the opposite effect is probable - that the hysteria and aggressive rejection would only increase. I have no idea what can be done about this. Personally I believe that only major natural catastrophes have the potential to erode widespread climate change denialism and by the time this really starts to come about it will be too late for meaningful action.

  6. Daniel Voronoff writes:
    Thanks for your comment Doug. You touch on a number of important facets of the human experience of climate change, which I’d like to comment on, the phenomenon of denialism being one. Firstly, though, I’d like to revisit the main ideas of the article, with the aim of reaching a common understanding. In the article, I propose that there is significant scope for communication about climate change to focus more specifically on its human health and wellbeing impacts. To my mind this is an issue of strategic framing. To date, framing has been centred on its environmental impacts (Great Barrier Reef, Kakadu National Park, butterfly extinction) or upon green jobs and a new industrial revolution in renewable energy. There are a number of reasons why these frames, especially the latter, depending upon how they are portrayed, can be counter productive, which I will have to leave for another article to discuss. Suffice to say, there has been no sustained public communication exclusively on the concrete, real-life impacts of climate change on people’s health and livelihood. Framing climate change around health impacts puts a human face on the issue and offers scope for relating to people about something that is very personal: whether it is their own health or the health and livelihoods of their children, elderly parents, friends, etc. So, I’m not advocating talking about just any old climate change impact (goodness there are so many!) I’m keen on us focusing on and projecting the frame: climate change is a health and wellbeing threat. Secondly – and this is just as important as defining the threat – is the need to project efficacy. The meta-study I cite in the article is quite clear on this point: a communication in which the facts are scary should strongly demonstrate a path for action, for participation in a solution, and ideally link people with the skills they need, and a supporting network, that achieves the desired outcome: in our case a safe climate.

    There are a few facets to the hysteric and aggressive responses you mention. One facet, as the meta-analysis shows, is that failing to clearly describe the efficacy path can lead to these outcomes, as well as apathy and scepticism and probably a few more negative attitudes besides. Provided we are clear about the action-path, we should not be defensive about the honest truth; besides, we owe it to ourselves and our fellow-travellers, whose opinions we depend upon, to tell this story. In other words, while the evidence supports a strong efficacy approach to this narrative, the point I make to you is that we need to make the severity case because it is the ethical thing to do. And it turns out that the evidence supports being clear about the severity too.

    continues.... next comment

  7. ...continued from previous comment

    There will always be denialists, either of the passive, hysteric or aggressive varieties. There’s a few ways to view this, which combined give a fuller picture. Looked at through a benign lens we see that any new paradigm or thing, be it a heliocentric solar system, or an ipod, will always find its contrarians or laggards. There are always some people whose identity is sufficiently threatened or at odds with the innovation, even after it has ceased being ‘new,’ and will reject it. This response belongs to a small category of people, estimated at around 15% of the population, and less than 5% hardcore, who we can safely say we will never reach. Looking through a more pernicious lens we see how vested interests (coal, tobacco) will engage in a conspiracy to protect their interests by exploiting a more general tendency of people to shy from the unfamiliar, especially when it is scary. This exploitation comes in the form of propagating lies that cultivate negative attitudes to policy initiatives, e.g. the current television ads. Or it comes in the form of supporting quasi-fascistic hate campaigns against climate scientists. This, you agree, is a sketch of the context we work in.

    In other words, the denialism isn’t provoked by our message. On the contrary, the opposite is true. The meta-study shows that if we fail to tell people about the severity of the problem our message will not be effective at all – to anybody, no matter how open-minded they are or how staunchly or quasi-denialist they are. It also shows that there is no support for any hypothesized negative effects from fear appeals, when combined with strong efficacy elements. In other words, by combining a strong severity and efficacy message we don’t risk provoking an aggressive denialism as you claim. We do however, by using the health frame, create the opportunity of cutting through to an important population segment that we have to reach: the late majority. As I mentioned above, the use of personal stories of surviving extreme weather events that inspire climate action is likely to be one tactic that will relate to this segment. This is the tactic used, in reverse, by the mining company propagandists; just look at the ads: they’re full of ‘real people’ spouting non-truisms from the wider denialist narrative.

    Lastly, I do agree with you that as the disasters become even more frequent and extreme, the reality of climate change will become ‘undeniable’. If the late majority’s mind hasn’t changed before then, this eventuality will likely change it. As for the hardcore 1-5% of denialists, not even this will change their minds. After all, 450 years after Galileo there are still people who believe in a flat earth.

  8. The hyperlinks to the references in the text are not working. Can you send me the links for the US experts on health and the study of public attitudes on climate change.

    Jim Driscoll--jimdriscoll@NIPSPeerSupport.org

  9. Daniel
    Thanks for your thought provoking presentation to the recent messaging forum. I have thought a lot about both this post and your presentation since. Your argument is persuasive but still I harbor lingering doubts. You argue for a changed approach to persuade those who are available to be persuaded but still are not. I accept your analysis but I wonder whether persuading them will result in necessary action on their part. I tried to set out my concerns in a still not very satisfactory blog post. Briefly they are as follows. I live in one of Australia's more environmentally aware communities in inner Melbourne - the Federal electorate of Melbourne. I have been an active member of a climate change group in the area for some years. As you know, Melbourne elected Greens MP Adam Bandt to Federal parliament with a strong climate change mitigation agenda. Surveys in the area consistently show strong support for renewables, setting a price on carbon, winding back fossil fuels etc. By and large people living in this community are already convinced of the need for climate change action. However if the vanishingly small number of people, even in this community, who are prepared to actively participate (as opposed to completing questionnaires and signing petitions to avoid embarrassment) is any measure there seems to me to be an enormous gap between recognition of the problem and the willingness to take action. Change won't come without mass support but even in this community ten times as many people will turn out for a rally in support of live music venues as will turn out for a climate change rally.

    I doubt that the more personalized, but still gentle messaging you advocate will cut through without the support of the increasingly frequent extreme weather events that accompany global warming. I speculate that the shift from a hot dry el Niño climate cycle to a relatively cool and very wet la Niña cycle has lulled the nation back to sleep. Three years ago when people were dying in heat waves and bush fires, public acceptance of the climate crisis was higher, and there was a definite sense of urgency around climate change that is currently missing. Perhaps this will return with the next el Niño event probably within the next year.

    Anyway. Thanks again. Andrew Revkin has an interesting post on a closely related topic on Dot earth today. http://dotearth.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/02/27/eco-anxiety-examined/

    1. Daniel Voronoff replies (1)


      Thanks for your feedback. I think your observation about the discrepancy between attitude change and action is telling. It is true that most people may be persuaded, for example, that climate change must be stopped, however may take no action to stop it. Surveys tend to confirm this tendency, though most focus on either action in the home, or a set of the more obvious political actions. For example, from memory I don’t think any of the surveys ask, “Did you discuss the issue of climate change with family, a colleague or friend?” This is an important action.

      In touching on the attitude-action gap, it’s important to note that social psychologists have found that in general attitude change follows behaviour change. That is, once a person has trialled a behaviour their attitude about the behaviour and related issues, and to some extent self-perception, will tend to change. Similarly, if you point out that there’s a discrepancy between their attitude and behaviour, people will tend to change their attitude to be consistent with how they behave. I think we need to accept this discrepancy as a fact of life, with a few caveats:

      1. Taking action, changing behaviour, is very dependent on practicalities like accessibility, convenience, having the skills and whether or not your peers are taking action. And fun. This goes to the efficacy element of the message, and, as I mentioned in the talk, that the message is a small component in a wider set of actions aimed at making change accessible and convenient (e.g. door knocking, street stalls, web sites with petitions, letter signing, donation facilities), teaching skills (e.g. holding advocacy workshops, working bees, public speaking training, etc) and activating social networks (e.g. mother’s groups, schools, sports clubs, unions, workplaces, picnics, etc).

      2. With this in mind, there are limiting factors such as our capacity to provide the necessary access and convenience, etc for people to take action. This isn’t helped by the various segments of the movement pulling in different thematic directions, or wasting scarce resources on saying ‘yes’, when we could be talking about protecting our health and livelihood from climate change impacts.

      3. The point you make about more people demonstrating about the local pub is telling. The pub in question is a local icon. Recall in the talk I spoke about needing to make climate change more personal and local. Talking about health consequences makes the issue personal. An interesting study done in the U.K. looked at how the portrayal of expected climate change impacts on local icons affected the perception of threat and efficacy. The study found that respondents were more motivated to take action because this global problem ‘climate change’ was scaled to a local impact. (http://unimelb.academia.edu/SaffronOneill/Papers/343046/Fear_Wont_Do_It_Promoting_Positive_Engagement_With_Climate_Change_Through_Visual_and_Iconic_Representations). To my mind this is a cue for local action groups to portray local icons affected by climate change as means of engaging local people in action.

      ... continues next comment

    2. Daniel Voronoff replies (2)

      ... previous comment continued

      4. Taking the broader and longer view, history rides on the back of the 1-2 per cent who take action. Look at Tahir Square in Egypt. It’s said that a million people occupied the square. In a country of over 80 million that’s less than two per cent of Egyptians. As Ms Mead said: “ Never underestimate…” and all that; it is down to the “happy few” who make history. Looking at the conservative population segment we discussed, changing perceptions about climate change so that their understanding is more personal and local, would be a very significant shift and useful outcome, even if none of them lifted a finger to sign a petition. It would give conservative politicians pause for thought; certainly give those who accept the science the benefit of public support. It would also force Tony Abbott, et al to defend their position vis-à-vis a health threat. It would cast doubt on him as someone worthy of public office, being so adverse to action on climate change would cast him as out of touch with the health and livelihoods of Australians young and old. You get the picture. The opportunity to put them on the back foot in this way is one we should not pass up. We should press it hard.

      5. Another important goal of our communication is the portrayal of leadership, which should centre on civic action lead by ‘people just like you’. In other words, we need to project leadership, compassionate and strong, that we the people are taking action to protect ourselves. One of the important values in this is that in highly contested situations, such as this issue, where people are not across the issue, their choices are more likely guided by signals given by perceived leaders. This is one reason why the coalition has been so staunchly unambiguous in their opposition to climate action. We need to match that consistency.

      I agree with your assessment about the natural variations in climate and the waxing and waning of public opinion. Though bear in mind we’ve experienced some nasty flood events over the last patch, and at least one nasty cyclone. I invite you to read a study called Conveying the Human Implications of Climate Change, a US paper, which recommends that health-based climate messages should use extreme weather events as an education opportunity. In which case there will be more frequent and extreme education opportunities as we move on… which, I agree, as you point out, will likely lead to more action.

  10. Vis a vis the severity of the problem everyone seems to pussy-footing to a certain extent around the message that it is coming and we have to act. Politicians and many scientists don't seem to want to alarm too much the scientifically ignorant masses who would not understand the literature even if they were interested in reading it. They want to be spoon fed info but not too disturbing info. How can the masses relate Paul Gilder's message or James Hansen's presentation?