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Katharine Hayhoe's climate elevator pitch

Posted on 3 February 2015 by John Cook

At last December's AGU Fall Meeting, Peter SinclairCollin Maessen and myself spent most of the week holed up in a tiny room interviewing scientists. The downside was we missed most of the amazing, informative talks at the conference. The upside was we got to have long, in-depth conversations with some of the world's leading climate scientists.

The full interviews will be available when our MOOC, Making Sense of Climate Science Denial, comes out in April. In the meantime, Collin and Peter have been having a lot of fun releasing excerpts from our interviews (frankly, I'm a little jealous). The latest release is a wonderfully edited snippet from an interview with Katharine Hayhoe, where I ask her how she would summarise climate change in just a few floors of an elevator ride.

Stay tuned for more videos as Collin and Peter continue to dig through our goldmine of footage. We'll be announcing any new videos from our MOOC interviews on the Denial101x Facebook and Twitter pages.


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Comments 1 to 4:

  1. What Katharine sais here is the indicative of a long-standing opinion by many attribution climate scientists that AGW is not an environmental problem but rather a social/ethical problem. I.e. the intergenerational ethics, uneven geographical distribution of causes (emissions) and effects (adverse weather), arguments about allowances, are all social/ethical root problems that have no solution whatsoever. The environmental problem of changing climate is just the effect that cannot be fixed until the roots are not fixed.

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  2. I don't think this is a good approach. Leave out the science and pull them over emotionally? If you want to talk on a personal relevant ground confront them with with actual data on the water problems in Texas. What is the problem and where can they see the consequences? Using some vague description to scare them is not helping in my opinion.

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  3. There are said to be three ways to persuade people rhetorically:

    • Logos (or Logic)
    • Ethos (or Authority)
    • Pathos (or Emotion)

    The least effective is Ethos, the most effective is Pathos. However, it is a bit short-term. We can be swayed by a powerful, plausible sales pitch (e.g. Monckton!), and change our minds on reflection.

    So Logos, which science uses, is the most effective in the long term for those willing to engage with it. Since Logos is demanding and tiring, it is difficult.

    But for an "elevator pitch", Logos is pretty much long, slow thinking, so for a quick impression, go for Pathos every time.

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  4. I think people are missing her point (as I hear it, at least).

    You can't get people to the science (or Logos and Ethos) if you don't first make some connection on the value/emotional (Pathos) level.

    Once people have a reason to care, or perhaps to not feel as threatened, then and in many cases only then will they be able to pay attention to stats like 97% agreement among climate scientists (Authority) and the absorption spectrum of CO2 (Science).

    It is easy for most of us to overlook just how powerfully our critical abilities in any situation are tied up to our emotional reactions.

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