Musings on Climategate

Communication as Government Coercion: Futerra and the UK

Posted in AGW Political, AGW Rhetorical by emelks on November 27, 2009

I’ve just completed 64 pages of the intentional word-fuddling called
UK Communications Strategy on Climate Change.” The file I downloaded from Futerra’s website
has a last-edited date of February 15, 2005.

I wound up in this document after reading a reference to it in “Rules of the Game,” a .pdf document included in the leaked .zip file from CRU. It is also on the Futerra website.

The authors state on page 8:

“We must stress that the Climate Change Communications Working
Group commissioned FUTERRA to produce a set of recommendations based upon
rigorous evidence and experience; they are not beholden to accept all of our

Given the hideousness of this document, one can only hope that all the “recommendations” have been rejected. I’ve not yet had time to determine which have been implemented in the UK, nor whether it has seeped into the US. Many of the “recommendations” are, however, quite familiar as general experience over the past few years and one may be forgiven for assuming that both governments decided to implement Futerra’s plan to force upon their respective populations the falsehoods of “climate change” through the most Orwellian means imaginable.

What does Futerra mean to accomplish through this effort? On pages 8-9:

1 The primary benefit of the attitude change campaign will be in generating
a sense of urgency on climate change, and ‘hooks’ for gaining
acceptance of policy changes.

2 Affecting attitudes on climate change will also help minimise the potential
problems or negative reactions to the social or economic elements of policy
development (e.g. energy price rises).

3 By generating excitement around our potential to acton climate change, existing
behaviour change programmes (of Carbon Trust and Energy Saving Trust) should
find a more receptive audience for their messages.

In other words, it’s a tool to manipulate a population that would otherwise be reluctant to conform to new policy with minimal participation or resistance. That sounds nice, doesn’t it?

4 By providing funds and guidance to local/regional communicators, their
impact will be improved and a host of new channels and audiences for messages
on climate change will be created.

5 This process has already produced results. The Rules of the Game document
is already being used within UK government, and indeed internationally, to
improve the impacts of climate change communications.

Futerra recommends that the government pay selected people to spout the party line on government-funded media outlets.

And they claim that the “Rules” document, itself an Orwellian nightmare, is already in use internationally.

While the entire document contains enough material to produce a doctorate thesis on modern propaganda, I am particularly interested in the media and “voice” sections.

Pg 50: Voice

Do we need a single person to be the ‘voice’ for climate
change in the UK? Or do we need the current voices to be more co-ordinated?

We have considered this issue in depth over the period of the strategy
development. Our commitment to ‘many voices’ for climate change
and the use of social networking must be set against the Rule calling for
a trusted, credible and recognized voice for climate change. In essence, the
recommendations of the Toolkit and Fund section seek to create a host of trusted,
credible and locally recognised voices on climate change. It is the potential
need for a national voice that generates questions.

Our conclusion is that a degree of sophistication is needed to approach
this issue. The challenge of a ‘voice’ is actually a series of
activities that must take place.

Firstly a rigorous internal audit of government and government agency
spokespeople for climate change must be undertaken. A central ‘list’
of who is trained and qualified to speak about what must be compiled. No one
from outside this list should be encouraged to take a public platform without
a clear understanding of their skills and after training to ensure they are
competent in the language and message.

This may seem draconian, but in any large multinational or other media-sensitive
organisation, only legitimate and trained individuals would be used to engage
in crucial debate or profile raising.

Once this list has been compiled a gap analysis of desired skills, expertise
and important issues should be undertaken. If there are any areas (such as
climate change and health, or climate change and security) identified as currently
lacking a spokesperson, then suitable and senior ‘voices’ should
be secured for the list from departments or agencies.

Then the full and comprehensive list of ‘voices’ should be
sent regular updates of key information and have their attention drawn to
potential platforms for their issue.

We believe that this approach will be successful in the short to mid-term.
From our understanding of those high profile individuals that have emerged
in different sectors to ‘lead’ on issue (such as the astronomer
Patrick Moore, David Attenborough, Alan Titchmarsh, David Starkey etc) we
understand they are very difficult to create. We suggest that a ‘watching
brief’ is set for any emerging single voice, from the existing list
or outside it, who can then be given support and profile through the existing
strategy activities.

To sum it up, this “draconian” measure will ensure that no one in any position of governmental authority will be allowed to spread information not to the government’s liking. Additionally, individuals outside of the
government daring to speak differently will be tagged with the “outside” label, will not receive the special government treatment, and will be threatened implicitly or explicitly with all the fears and concerns that a government opponent entails.

Is this what the governing body of a free people does?

Page 53

Media Management

The media are a primary, if not the primary channel for information and opinion
on climate change in the UK. It is critical that a media management plan is
integrated with the other elements of this strategy.

Media coverage of climate change is still relatively niche, apart from
the occasional front-page splash story that emerges in the broadsheets. The
debate must shift in emphasis from the debate about why or if climate change
must be managed through to a more informed debate about how we mitigate and
adapt. Editors also need to be assisted in their understanding of the all-pervasive
importance of climate change across a range of different editorial responsibilities.

“Assisted in their understanding”? Does that translate as, “here’s the line, toe it or else?”

Since when does a government “assist” anyone in their “understanding” of their day-to-day job? In a free country, that is.

Our objectives for the media are to:

• Increase coverage of climate change solutions

• Reduce coverage of climate change detractors

• Encourage more references to climate change in relation to other issues
(health, employment, leisure and the economy)

This final issue is critical. Our overarching vision – the branded statement
– provides a strong framework for linking climate change to the things
that we care about. While increasing coverage of climate change solutions
and decreasing coverage of climate change detractors is important, more important
is to “scatter” climate change on the issues above that get coverage
every day. Making the link between climate change, our lives, our work and
our play will be vital in shifting public attitudes.

This “recommendation” certainly seems to have been taken to heart. Hardly a week goes by that I don’t hear some claim of global warming impact in a totally unrelated news story. A few examples:

Government regulating the color of vehicles

GLOBAL warming will take a toll on children’s health, according to a new report showing hospital admissions for fever soar as days get hotter. The new study found that temperature rises had a significant impact on the number of pre-schoolers presenting to emergency departments for fever and gastroenteritis.

How ignorant do they think we are?

To that end we recommend that:

Press Officer Training is carried out across Government departments,
to maximise the potential for making connections with the climate change agenda

Recommendation 28

A series of training sessions for Government and NDPB communicators and press
officers will potentially pay back big dividends in regard to getting the
climate change message across in the broadest sense. Training should either
be bespoke to each government department/agency or facilitated in a manner
that will allow participants to make the links to their core policy/communications

We can make the media’s task easier by ensuring that we make the
necessary connections in our press briefings for them. We therefore recommend:

That climate change targeted press releases be issued by all relevant
Government Departments and Agencies (not just Defra), to make connections
with climate change wherever possible

That specialist media should be targeted, to take advantage of the scope
for linking lifestyle and climate change

Recommendation 29

Somehow I don’t think traditional media outlets would mind being used as government puppets. In fact, I think the media would happily engage if asked outright.

This outreach into previously ‘climate ignorant’ territory
should be expanded into the specialist press, where climate change can be
connected to issues of key interest to the target audience, bringing the challenge
home to within their sphere of influence and making it timely and relevant.
Again, this offers the potential for connecting climate change with the issues
the public really care about – health, employment, leisure and the economy
etc. From changing the planting of your garden to allow for climate change
adaptation to cutting the food miles generated by your dinner, the potential
is huge and largely unrealised at present. Gaining a balanced hearing in specialist
media is often easier than through the broadsheets or red tops.

Once again, trying to tie AGW into everything. I broke a tooth a few nights ago—it’s global warming! My son flunked a math test—it’s global warming!

I find it incredible hard to believe that anyone with an ounce of sense would fall for this, but the latest polls indicate that many people do.

Halloween is eleven some-odd months away, but read these two documents anyway. It’s enough to curdle the blood.


2 Responses

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  1. […] Read the original: Communication as Government Coercion: Futerra and the UK […]

  2. hro001 said, on December 6, 2009 at 11:27 pm

    Our objectives for the media are to:

    • Increase coverage of climate change solutions

    • Reduce coverage of climate change detractors

    Well, they’ve certainly succeeded in meeting these objectives. Particularly the latter.

    Amazing. Simply amazing.

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