Weekly Round Up: Bringing morals and human rights into the picture

In the round up this week: Moral arguments sway public opinions, bringing human rights into the story to make a big impact, and polls reveal shifting political views of Americans.

If you’re a science communicator or educator at an informal science center (such as a zoo, aquarium, or museum) trying to encourage conservation action – this is the round up for you! Every week we break down the most interesting recent news and best resources to help you frame the issues as effectively as possible.

Climate action: it's not just rational, it's ethical

As we’ve discussed in previous blog posts, there are many factors that influence one’s opinion about climate change. There is mounting evidence that making a moral argument in favor of acting to slow and mitigate climate change is one of the most effective strategies to make a lasting impact on public opinion.

This summer’s Environmental Polling Trends report, released by ecoAmerica, supports that opinions are swaying, showing that most US citizens are concerned about climate change and they want to prepare for the impacts of climate change. Another major finding from this poll is that moral arguments seem to have the most support (93%) in swaying public opinion.

Though, one blogger for The Guardian Professional points out the moral arguments are missing from the behavior change debates. The Guardian’s Adam Corner writes, “Ultimately, it is morals and values, not facts and figures, that inspire public support for policies, and transformative behavioral changes will not follow from superficial methods of engagement.” Corner suggests that we concentrate on “re-connecting with a straight¬for¬ward idea: that morally, confronting climate change is simply the right thing to do.”


Human rights + ecological controversy = impactful story

Here’s a framing tip: if it’s bad for the animals and it’s bad for humans, the story is sure to make an impact. The palm oil industry has been contributing to documented habitat devastation for animals such as the orangutans for years, but we are also learning about the not-so-well-documented human-rights abuses of the industry. The shared plight of orangutans and people make this story hard to ignore.


Climate change in politics: Let the polls speak for themselves

Public opinion about climate change in America has a history of changing like the weather, but it looks like the winds might be shifting in favor of action.

In the United States, a nationwide poll shows that the majority supports President Obama’s new plan to address climate change and cut carbon emissions in the US. It looks like young voters are not only in support of Obama’s plan, but would oppose members of Congress who stood in the way of the president’s climate action plan.

According to a poll of US voters under age 35, it is widely believed that “denying climate change signals a much broader failure of values and leadership,” noted in the polling memo. Many young voters (including young Republicans) would write climate misinforming candidates off completely, with 37 percent describing climate change deniers as "ignorant," 29 percent as "out of touch" and 7 percent simply as "crazy.


More useful resources

Do you live in one of these states: Arizona, California, Colorado, Delaware, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, and Vermont? Environment America has deemed them the “Dazzling Dozen,” with the highest per capita solar electricity capacity in U.S. Be sure to share success stories like this with visitors to show them what’s being done in their community, and how it’s good for the environment and people.

For those other 38 states catching up in the renewable energy boom, it may help to show others why clean energy is such a great investment; wind and solar can prevent more pollution and actually save lives.