A new book, reviewed on a Christian Science Monitor blog, alleges there's a massive public relations campaign to discredit global warming, to deny what a good deal of scientific evidence indicates is a pressing -- though not necessarily "touchable" -- concern. The author, James Hoggan, is chairman of Hoggan & Associates, a Canadian public relations firm.
If Hoggan's concerns are anywhere close to the mark, what we have occurring in the anti-climate change campaigns, is not public relations. It is perversion. Perverse PR is as much a danger to our discipline as climate change is to humanity. It can reinforce an all-too-readily accepted stereotype of PR as manipulative and deceptive, and the stakes are worldwide.
What we need on the climate change scene is not PR but dialogue, a deeper, more engaging form of communication than what is typically practiced even in the best relational campaigns. If there's any sort of prospect that climate change is real -- as there certainly appears to be -- the risks of delaying concerted actions are too great to bear.
We should be acting as though climate change is real, for it may well be. That process would begin with conversation across divergent perspectives, serious exchanges about what seems known and what needs yet to be determined. With any luck, such conversations would deepen into dialogue, and humanity would have a chance of being well served by a global communication process.
What we have now are sniper sorties, and they simply won't do as PR, communication, or anything else of value to our planet.
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