Does "Population Die-Off" Need To Be Retooled?

One would think humans would have a notion of preservation lofty enough not to get too bogged down in the semantics of the climate debate, but such is not the case.


Cap and trade, polar melting, mega-storms, sea level rise, feedback loops, population die-off.

The language of climate change is strong stuff, so strong that it seems the best work of the Al Gore camp is all for naught unless the communications experts are brought in.

This is the new mandate for green interests seeking to underscore the urgency of the climate change issue--even though the idea of marketing the climate message makes many traditional environmentalists recoil.

The new intersection of communications and global warming inspired Seed Magazine to ask a panel of scientists how much the language of safeguarding the planet--or, if you are of another frame of mind, averting biospheric disaster--really matters.

Most of them came down on the side of the public relations people who have successfully trumpeted the environmental cause. Though the future may indeed be dire, the eco-fundamentalists have proven ill-equipped to convey the climate message compared to the veteran spin masters.

American Univeristy professor of Communications Matthew Nisbet broke down the alchemy of the message.

"The point is not to "sell" the public on climate change, but rather to use research on framing to create communication contexts that move beyond polarization, promote discussion, generate partnerships and connections, and that accurately convey the objective urgency of the problem."

When he spoke with Big Think, Nisbet explained how conservatives have courted PR folks in the past to downplay the climate issue as harmful to business and the economy. He noted one of the most persuasive efforts in environmental spin has been the unlikely teamwork of the ecologists and Christians.

​There are two kinds of failure – but only one is honorable

Malcolm Gladwell teaches "Get over yourself and get to work" for Big Think Edge.

Big Think Edge
  • Learn to recognize failure and know the big difference between panicking and choking.
  • At Big Think Edge, Malcolm Gladwell teaches how to check your inner critic and get clear on what failure is.
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Is this why time speeds up as we age?

We take fewer mental pictures per second.

(MPH Photos/giphy/yShutterstock/Big Think)
Mind & Brain
  • Recent memories run in our brains like sped-up old movies.
  • In childhood, we capture images in our memory much more quickly.
  • The complexities of grownup neural pathways are no match for the direct routes of young brains.
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Trauma in childhood leads to empathy in adulthood

It's not just a case of "what doesn't kill you makes you stronger."

Mind & Brain

  • A new study suggests children who endure trauma grow up to be adults with more empathy than others.
  • The effect is not universal, however. Only one kind of empathy was greatly effected.
  • The study may lead to further investigations into how people cope with trauma and lead to new ways to help victims bounce back.
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Why are so many objects in space shaped like discs?

It's one of the most consistent patterns in the unviverse. What causes it?

Videos
  • Spinning discs are everywhere – just look at our solar system, the rings of Saturn, and all the spiral galaxies in the universe.
  • Spinning discs are the result of two things: The force of gravity and a phenomenon in physics called the conservation of angular momentum.
  • Gravity brings matter together; the closer the matter gets, the more it accelerates – much like an ice skater who spins faster and faster the closer their arms get to their body. Then, this spinning cloud collapses due to up and down and diagonal collisions that cancel each other out until the only motion they have in common is the spin – and voila: A flat disc.