Our ocean planet’s future should transcend partisan politics

Race for the political cure?

The social media world in the US was recently abuzz over the decision by Susan G. Komen (SGK) Foundation to stop funding Planned Parenthood. Regardless of their perspective of the work that Planned Parenthood does, most people agree that the search for a cure for cancer shouldn’t be a political issue: the search for a cure for cancer should transcend political affiliations.

Now wouldn’t it be nice if we could agree on the same thing with conservation and climate change? Wouldn’t it be great if climate change – an issue that more than 97% of scientists agree to be real and likely human-caused – was taken to be true and not dismissed as “another theory“. Yet even among many zoo, aquariums, and zoo visitors in the US – a large segment of the population identified as much more concerned about conservation issues than the general public – the threat of climate change is still largely seen as “overrated” and “politicized”.
How do we then convince people that climate change is very real and growing worse due to human causes? One of the tenets of social marketing is that “perception is reality”, i.e. what people perceive to be true is what people will believe in, regardless of “facts”. Throwing more facts and data at people not only does not change their minds – a phenomenon known as “motivated reasoning” – but instead makes them dig their heels in deeper. So instead of trying to convince people that climate change is “real”, we recommend focusing on communicating to audiences that, regardless of what they feel about climate change, it’s important to  take conservation action because they care about a species, a place, their healthy, their children, the future, or simply because they are “green-friendly”.