Environment Messaging

 

In most voters’ minds, environmental issues are local. They are thinking about their own parks, streams and wetlands. That fact allows you to personalize your language—it’s about the air we breathe, the water we drink; it’s about health and safety for our children. Here is a generic message that you can adapt to fit the issues in your community:

Say . . .

We’ve got to protect our community’s health and safety, and our quality of life. We understand that includes [keeping our rivers and streams clean. The Big Bend Project would eliminate a great deal of our city’s water pollution problem.] My opponent opposes the plan. But I believe this is the time to take the responsibility to preserve the quality of life in [Big Bend]—not just for ourselves, but for our children and grandchildren. 

Why . . .

First empathize with the audience and explain the progressive values that underlie environmentalism which are all under the security column of values: safety, health and quality of life. Make the issue personal by talking about our rivers and our health, and remind them that any environmental cause benefits their families.

Of course you need to explain how your specific solution delivers the security that voters seek, and some audiences require more facts than others. If you’re speaking one-on-one or in a small group, let your listeners ask for more facts. When people do that, they’re helping you persuade them. But keep in mind that progressives almost always give too many facts and do too little message framing. Focus more on empathy, values and letting your audience understand how they benefit.

Don’t say . . .

Say . . .

Opportunity

 

Our safety, security, health

Our quality of life

For our children and grandchildren

Why . . .

In the environmental debate, the right wing tries to use the value of opportunity—the opportunity to mine, drill or develop, for short-term profit. Your job is to move your audience from an opportunity or business/consumer conversation to one about our families’ current and long-term security

For example, let’s say you are arguing for restrictions on the natural gas drilling technique called hydraulic fracturing, which you should refer to as fracking.

Say . . .

We need to guarantee that our drinking water is safe. We need to protect our community’s rivers and streams. There is plenty of evidence that fracking may be polluting groundwater. Right now, companies engaged in fracking aren’t even required to disclose information to scientists so we can tell how dangerous it is. We need a fully effective system [or a moratorium] to protect our health and safeguard our quality of life.

Why . . .

Like other environmental issues, base your arguments on the value of security and personalize the issue to your audience.

Anti-environmentalists want to soften the negatives associated with exploiting the environment, so they call drilling and mining exploring for energy. Obviously, say drilling, mining, fracking and exploiting instead.

Don’t say . . .

Say . . .

Exploring for energy

Drilling for oil/gas

Fracking

Exploiting our natural resources




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