The frame is the message: Prof. Mike Hulme speaks in Vancouver about why we disagree on climate change

Sunday, February 19, 2012

On Wednesday night, Prof. Mike Hulme offered a lecture on ‘Why we disagree about climate change’ as part of the Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions seminar series.  Prof. Hulme offers a powerful counterpoint to the escalating rhetoric of the climate debate – often accusatory, frustrated, and intractable.  Hulme explored the ways we frame climate change (ie as a technological challenge, as largely natural, or as caused by overconsumption, for instance), and how these frames are not driven by deceit but rather by selectivity and differences in emphasis.  Frames are deeply rooted in worldviews and attitudes, rather than ‘facts,’ and each suggests a very different policy response.  For instance, if climate change is framed as a problem arising from technology (rather than values or markets), then solutions that immediately come to mind are technological.
This view of the climate change debate is inclusive rather than antagonistic, and recognizes that there is no single right answer.  Even more important, perhaps, is a shift away from a science-centric view of climate change and towards a more nuanced conversation of sustainability.  Sustainability can place the environmental impacts of climate change within a constellation of equally pressing issues: equity, well-being, literacy, security and many others – achieving multiple objectives simultaneously.
Prof. Mike Hulme will be in Vancouver over the weekend to participate in the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) meeting.  If you’ve registered for the AAAS meeting, he’ll be speaking at a session on Friday Feb 17th so be sure to check him out.