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May 2, 2009

Ecological awareness in America today

When someone thinks of global warming, they think of a politicized, polarized argument. When you say 'global warming,' a certain group of Americans think that's a code word for progressive liberals, gay marriage and other such issues.

-- ecoAmerica's president and founder, Robert M. Perkowitz

In fact, the group's surveys and focus groups found, it is time to drop the term "the environment" and talk about "the air we breathe, the water our children drink."

"Another key finding: remember to speak in TALKING POINTS aspirational language about shared American ideals, like freedom, prosperity, independence and self-sufficiency while avoiding jargon and details about policy, science, economics or technology," said the e-mail account of the group's study.

Frank Luntz, a Republican communications consultant, prepared a strikingly similar memorandum in 2002, telling his clients that they were losing the environmental debate and advising them to adjust their language. He suggested referring to themselves as "conservationists" rather than "environmentalists," and emphasizing "common sense" over scientific argument.

Seeking to Save the Planet, With a Thesaurus
Published: May 2, 2009
To build support for legislation, environmental marketers are literally changing the terms of the climate debate.