Marketing Global Warming?

globalwarming.jpgIf global warming, the greenhouse effect, or climate change or anything else you want to call it is really as bad as people say it is, why does the general public persist in doing virtually nothing about it? It’s a pressing question that plagues anyone who thinks of themselves as having a high level of awareness about such things.
Legendary business guru Tom Peters’ weblog has an interesting discussion going on that starts by suggesting the issue is “poorly marketed”, and has a “weak brand”.
If you’ve read George Lakoff’s Don’t Think of an Elephant then you’ve got some idea of where this is headed….

The very idea of looking at “global warming” as a “brand” is a little weird. It’s the kind of thing that people assume will be understood simply because of its potential gravity, but when signs of catastrophe are not apparant in everyday life, people tune out.
It “branding” really part of the issue? If it were branded as “scarier” would it change people’s behavior, or produce a backlash? Commenters on the site suggest a few more ideas: Scientists are bad at reporting on science to a general audience, energy prices are not priced to account for externalities which keeps people in a imaginary world, and careless leaders.
Personally, I like the phrase “Global Weirding” as it implies that a) We’re not entirely sure what the heck is going to happen, and b) whatever it is, it’s may be weird and problematic. What do you think?
(via Treehugger)

Nick Aster is a new media architect and the founder of has grown to become one of the web's leading sources of news and ideas on how business can be used to make the world a better place.

Prior to TriplePundit Nick worked for Mother Jones magazine, successfully re-launching the magazine's online presence. He worked for, managing the technical side of the publication for 3 years and has also been an active consultant for individuals and companies entering the world of micro-publishing. He earned his stripes working for Gawker Media and Moreover Technologies in the early days of blogging.

Nick holds an MBA in sustainable management from the Presidio School of Management and graduated with a BA in History from Washington University in St. Louis.

11 responses

  1. Perhaps the reason that the general public is unconcerned is that there are no apparent effects at all. First, very few people understand the difference between ‘weather’ and ‘climate.’ Normal weather variations are far more extreme than the slow, gradual changes in climate due to global warming. We are talking a change of less than 1 degree C over the next century. Secondly, it is far from obvious that global warming will be deleterious, or that an increase in carbon dioxide will result in anything more than more luxurious vegetation.

  2. Global Warming is way too mild of a term. We need to use the term: Global Overheating.
    When our cars overheat and we ignore the warning lights, our cars will soon stop running because we will have destroyed the engine.
    Our overheating of the earth warning lights have been on for too long. If we keep ignoring the warnings, it may be too late.
    Life as we know it will soon come to an end.

  3. i will have to agree to tom,along with that U.S. not joining the band wagon against global warning makes it difficult for developing countries, if U.S. decides to take this seriously many will follow with a queation but U.S. is not doin which adds to courage.

  4. Global Warming as a “Weak Brand”

    Both Treehugger and TriplePundit have pointed to this post from marketing guru Tom Peter’s blog that ask the questions “Why has the issue of global warming been so poorly marketed? Why is the brand called “The Global Warming Catastrophe” such a weak …

  5. There are several reasons why global warming is not that big of an issue in this country. It is easy to ignore for most Americans (excepting many Alaskans!) right now, a complete lack of leadership from our ‘leaders’, and the worst of global warmings effects aren’t expected to come about for another 100-200 years. I also agree that the term “global warming” lacks pizazz. Maybe every fossil fuel burning device should come with a Surgeon General’s warning sticker “Ignoring climate change now could be hazardous to your health” Or “Quitting fossil fuels now greatly reduces your risks of floods, droughts, famine, disease, and Armageddon” If all else fails, just call it ‘Free Beer’, at least that will grab people’s attention!

  6. Hmm… that’s a good point. I think the original post was deliberately trying to evoke that Chrichton-esque notion. I would like to think that “marketing” anything like this is unneeded, but maybe it is, in a certain way?

  7. I think that someone needs to ban the use of fossil fuels, I think there is some other source of fuel that needs to be used. Fossil fuels are dangerous to your health and the environment so I think they should not be used

  8. If you want to stop using fossil fuels bg, then i hope you don’t own a car. You people are so smug about your own lives and lifestyles. Get a brain!
    The average temperature has only increased by one degree in the past 200 years. If the world is going to end from “global warming” it won’t happen for millons of years.

  9. You are absolutely right, Global Warming’s brand is very weak in comparison to the “product” itself (a serious and imminent danger).
    Think it suffers from conflation with other “environmentalist” movements that people generally care less about — organic food, save the whales, preserve the rainforest etc. It should drop all imagery associated with Planet Earth and focus solely on the human aspect (economics collapse/drought/flooding).My more detailed below:

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