Reframing the Climate Change Debate to Better Leverage Policy Change: An Analysis of Public Opinion and Political Psychology

Document Type


Publication Date

Fall 9-2014


U.S. climate change-related policy response is failing, despite scientific consensus on core realities, in part because of comprehensive, simultaneous, yet incommensurable doctrines and political biases. Climate disruption is a critically important agenda for homeland security and emergency management, yet as framed today, the policy communication regime frequently requires many skep-tics or deniers to abandon their opinions, cultural commitments and epistemic frameworks. Public opinion consensus would be optimal, but the traditional edu-cation/information approach is flawed, and continued delays in significant miti-gation and adaptation policy implementation will mean far larger future costs to protect civilian environmental security and national interests. Thus, effective response demands new messaging strategies, pursuing interim progress, lever-aging overlapping consensus, enhancing risk analysis literacy, and construct-ing alternative, intermediary categories of multiple parallel discourse. These framings would center on security, economic interests, public health, religious stewardship, and other themes. Customized audience discourses may enable better public and opinion leader buy-in, partly transcending polarization, since such leaders have a unique ability to help translate and promote these various discourses. In addition, eventual construction of a multi-dimensional map could optimize effective messaging and supportive coalitions. Otherwise, stalemate on climate-related policy and environmental security will continue, with increas-ingly likely catastrophic implications

Publication Title

Journal of Homeland Security and Emergency Management





First Page


Last Page