FrameWorks 2007: Talking Global Warming in Canada

FrameWorks, David Suzuki Foundation, John Lefebvre Foundation

This memo attempts to outline conclusions that have emerged from the FrameWorks research on global warming in Canada over the course of its multi-method inquiry conducted during 2006 and 2007. In the long-term, this memo seeks to provide a message platform for uniting numerous efforts in Canada to refine and reframe the public conversation about global warming so that it is optimally positioned to galvanize citizen and policymaker attention. In order to meet that challenge, this memo will, of necessity,  provide research-based criticism of those strategies and messages that prove less helpful in moving the public discussion forward. We do so in the spirit of movement building, remembering Doug McAdam’s conclusion upon examining the framing of the civil rights movement in American, “For all the importance attached to the question of movement emergence,…movements face a tougher set of challenges following initial mobilization.”

For example, is the story of a global warming Crisis, which proved important in establishing its validity early on, still the right story for successive mobilization? This memo is intended to help scientists, leaders and environmental advocates engage productively in that scrutiny.

The memo is organized as follows:

• Background on the Task we set out to address and the Perspective we bring to this


• A brief description of the Research Base that has been accomplished as part of

this inquiry

• An enumeration of What We Have Learned from the research, including a discussion of the effects of various frame choices on public understanding and support, and the most important traps that derail productive thinking

• Recommendations for reframing the discussion

• A brief set of Talking Points that incorporate and model these recommendations

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