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Ideology of Economic Discourse in Climate Change Research Paper

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Updated: Mar 4th, 2020

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While developing a rhetorical genre-based approach to analyzing coalitions’ ideologies, it is imperative to define how specific social functions of environmental and economic views are realized in terms of discourse structure.

At this point, the ideologies of a climate change advocators and climate change skeptics are disguised by rhetoric devices that serve to control certain social groups and make those groups act at economic and political levels.

Analysis of Environmental Discourse Coalitions’ Ideologies in the Context of Their Rhetorical Writing

The collected data presented below will define how rhetorical devices contribute to expressing ideologies of the two opposing coalitions and persuading different social groups to follow those ideologies.

Specific emphasis will be placed on how climate-change discourse provides the marginalization of a climate change, which is often defined by such metaphors as “death”, “holocaust”, or “threat” (Crist, 2007, p. 30). Ambivalent views on climate change issues will be presented to identify which side of debate is more persuasive and effective in communicating their ideas to society.

Characteristics of Coalitions’ Ideologies with Regard to Definitions

It has been previously defined that ideology is a set of thoughts and ideas that appeal to a specific social group. The beliefs, values, and arguments exposed by climate change activists are directly influenced by social interests. In this respect, the ideologies reflected in discursive claims of different collations are oriented on particular social groups that contribute to the debate.

In addition to this, Adam Smith’s definition of ideology is also congruent with the above assumptions. In particular, the economist insists that ideology is “the combining of knowledge, beliefs and preference into a comprehensive but distorted perception, which helps cope with difficult and bewildering problems” (Aage, n. d. pp. 8-9).

Relying on existing economic discourse, people shape their awareness and attitude toward the problem. Hence, some people are forced either to think over survival techniques, or to ignore the problem. This form of awareness leads to shifts in habitual limits of morality and rationality.

As a result, the so-called ideological bias is created with the help of such techniques as suppression, repetition, oversimplification, conciliation, and injection. These pillars are closely intertwined with such rhetorical devices as logos, pathos, and ethos. With regard to ideological definitions, it is purposeful to define how authors apply to ideological standards to introduce their ideas to masses.

While considering the supporters of climate change coalition, many authors often resort to neologisms and contemporary phrases to reveal that green economy is the future of prosperous development of the planet. In other words, they stick to one aspect of economic analysis, which meet their core beliefs and values.

Similar approaches are used in the report presented by European Renewable Energy Council (n. d.) that introduces a metaphorical phase – “working for the climate”, that is reflected in other synonymous phrases as “renewable energy creates jobs”, “the energy revolution makes economic sense”, “strong policy boosts renewable energy”, or “jobs are diminishing in the coal sectors” (pp. 1-23).

All these phrases reiterate the main scope of ideological influence – to present thoughts and concepts encouraged by social interests.

The opponents of the climate change advocacy coalition also resort to identical techniques to enhance their position and increase number of supporting groups.

For instance, Harvey (2011) resorts to repetitions of the word “skeptical” and “skepticism” while expressing his position about climate change in such phrases as “…first-hand weather experiences make Canadians skeptical about global warming”, and “that skepticism is being echoed in other parts of the world”. In this respect, the author provides the answer to the question in the title – Do People Still Care?.

Avoidance and suppression is also reflected in neutral economic discourse by Harris, who, on the one hand, opposes to both sides of debates. On the other hand, his unique ideological representation aims at searching for the support on the part of advocacy coalition. By focusing on the actual matters of conflict between the two parties, Harris (2011) manages to attract attention of the target social group.

In other words, distorting the ideas of others and interpreting previously stated beliefs in another light are the main ideological approaches used by Harris (2011).

Hence, the scientists states, “…scientific theories are never proven by show of hand anyways, no matter how scientifically esteemed those expressing their views are” and adds “…the Earth would still be considered flat and space travel impossible” (Harris, 2011, p. 4). Such digressions indicate authors’ idea about ambiguity of existing scientific investigations.

Judging from the examined passages, most authors pay particular attention to discussing bias to attract the audience and make them think over the problem of climate change crisis. In addition, they use rhetoric devices to expose information about the most urgent and complicate issues through invented connotations and distortion.

Rhetorical Writing Analysis of a ‘Climate Change Advocacy Discourse’ Coalition: Defining the Main Strategies

While evaluating different rhetoric devices used to highlight the main ideologies of climate change advocacy coalition, several non-governmental organizations have been reviewed. Specific attention has been placed to the most urgent discussions in terms of economic framework of climate change discourse.

More importantly, the assessed articles and reports have revealed that the economic dimension of climate change is premised on using such rhetoric devices as rhetoric questions, metaphors, classical rhetoric, and use of logos, pathos, and ethos.

Because climate change advocacy coalitions focus basically on total re-evaluation of existing economic structure, with no reference to consequences, specific attention is placed to the future perspective analysis, as well as governmental strategies directed as untangling climate change crisis.

To enlarge on this point, such organizations as David Suzuki foundation, Greenpeace, Frazer Institute, and the leading political newspapers refer to pathos and ethos, rhetoric argumentation, and invented connotations while describing “the new economy”.

For instance, Krugman (2010) refers to a realistic approach while describing the consequences of developing the traditional economic infrastructure. In particular, he states, “If we continue with business as usual… we are facing a rise in global temperatures that will be little short of apocalyptic. And to avoid that apocalypse, we have to wean our economy from the use of fossil fuels, coal above all” (Krugman, 2010, n. p.).

To persuade the readers of the writer’s awareness of the situation, the author digresses slightly from criticism and analyses the reverse side of the medal by introducing a rhetorical question: “is it possible to make drastic cuts in greenhouse-has emissions without destroying our economy?” (Krugman, 2010, n. p).

In such a manner, the author shapes a solid basis for further debates on the topic to prove that a newly constructed “green” economy is a consistent, step-by-step policy that seeks to present a step forward to a better future. To underscore the importance of introducing changes to economy, many activists place an emphasis on the tragedy of situation by using pathos.

At this point, Shellenberger and Nordhaus declare “the death of environmentalism” because environment movement and its experienced representatives are unable to prevent “the world’s most serious ecological crisis” (Chirst, 2007. p. 31).

As same as Krugman’s text is full of rhetorical questions, Cox (2009) also resorts to this device to highlight the economic discourse in climate change. At this point, all the questions presented in the passage closely relate to the problem of cost analysis and resources that people should invest to prevent such problem as greenhouse gas emissions.

For instance, the author makes use of sub-heading in the form of rhetoric questions: “Public Policy Collision Course?”, “International Comrades in Arms.” There are also rhetoric question in the text itself: “…it seems fair to ask what percentage of households in China, India, and other developing nations are prepared to pay anything. Cox’s article sounds like a calling for people to pay closer attention to the urgent problem.

To intensify the discourse, the author also provides logos – numerical data that is represented in a comparison with real and predicted figures. Apparently, Cox (2009) intends to trigger the audience think about the scales of the problem and make them change their attitude to the climate change.

Use of metaphors is the approach that is frequently used by policy-makers and environmentalists to attract the masses and trigger them to action. More importantly, the art of drawing the parallels through metaphors and expanding people’s imagination contributes greatly to developing sustainable and consistent ideologies that will have a potent impact on further development of economic strategies.

At this point, Crist (2007) exemplifies a number of environmental activists who apply to metaphors to strengthen their positions. Specifically, the author mentions Eugene Linden’s metaphor of the word “switch” to render the idea of the “tipping point”:

“While we’ve tended to comfort ourselves by thinking that climate change is like turning a dial … the reality is that shifts in climate are more like flicking a switch” (Crist, 2007, p. 31). In other words, the environmentalist calls for the necessity to resort to radical strategies while fighting with global warming and greenhouse effect.

As described by Crist (2007), Ostling (2009), the representative of David Suzuki foundation, also clamors for a complete reevaluation of economic situation with regard to climate change. In this respect, he makes use of ethos while presenting the title of his post called B.C. Budget Maintains Core Climate Strategy, but Misses Opportunity to Invest in Green Economy.

By employing such a title, the activist intends to show the ignorance of the seriousness of the ecological problem and reluctance of the government to introduce the corresponding measures to the Canadian economy. Hence, he refers to the government commitment as to “missed opportunity to strongly position the province in the emerging green economy” (Ostling, 2009, n. p.).

Additionally, exposing statistical data also allows the reader to understand the increased concern of the climate change advocacy coalition with the actual impacts of ignorance on ecological and economic problems.

Deliberating further on the metaphorical meaning of title, attention should be paid to the one presented by Wood (2008). His title running as Liberals and Conservatives Offer Job Killing Climate Policies where the metaphor killing enhances the author’s attitude to government’s political platforms with regard to climate change crisis.

Harris (2011) makes use of the metaphorical phrase “climate change bandwagon” while deliberating on the necessity to reconcile the climate change debate and provide resolution to existing conflict.

Apart from abundant use of rhetorical questions, the author strengthens his writing with sophisticated metaphors and comparisons. At this point, authors appeals to such metaphors that serve to criticize governmental policy toward the climate change, as well as influence of this policy on people’s attitudes:

If we are to quickly ‘expand the tent’ of supporters of realistic, science-based climate policies to include citizens of many different political persuasions, social philosophies and commercial interests, then logical fallacies and personal attacks on the integrity of our opponents must end ( Harris, 2011, p. 21).

In such a way, the environmentalist states that scientific positions cannot be judged from false perspectives because this sphere of knowledge should always be congruent with objectivity.

Rhetorical Writing Analysis of a ‘Climate Crisis Skepticism’ Coalition: Defining The Main Strategies

Harvey’s (2011) title runs, Climate Change, Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Canada: Do People Still Care?, which represents a skeptical article about the actual effectiveness of measures initiated by climate change advocators. The skepticism is especially revealed in the form of connotations and axioms delivering people’s genuine attitude toward the problem of global warming.

Using references to reliable resources and respectable think tanks, the authors emphasizes the uselessness of strategies implemented by climate change activists. Adhering to the ideology ignorance, Harvey, apparently, wants to provoke the readers’ interest to his position and make them support the concepts and ideas he defends.

Further, to define the economic implications, Harvey (2011) refers to the analysis of the Kyoto protocol by stating that its extension can cause significant disturbance among the Canadians. At this point, the Canadian government joined Russia and Japan in withdrawing the necessity to extend the international agreement.

To highlight the position, Harper refers to arguments introduced by other leading politicians who recognize that “climate change is measured by centuries, not whether or not it rained on Victoria Day”. His skepticism is also presented in the following phrase: “…cooling and warming cycles are part of the earth normal pattern” (Harvey, 2011, n. p.).

Many organizations whose major policies are directed at preventing the climate change crisis frequently resort to economic discourse to present a unique angle of their ideologies. In fact, their ideologies are more confined to attract people’s attention rather than to introduce effective strategies for fight with ecological disasters.

Hence, while reviewing the main strategies and polices of the Global Warming Policies Foundation (2012) website, one can encounter the phrase “public trust is our most important asset” (n. p.). Judging from this, it is possible to assume that the organization is more concerned with public recognition rather than with solving the economic and ecological problems. Their economic concerns with climate change are of secondary importance.

Much skepticism is revealed in The Wall Street Journal publication that expresses a rigid criticism of global warming concerns. Apparently, their ideologies are focused on maintaining the traditional structure of the economy because, according to their opinions, economic growth is hardly congruent with climate change policies.

However, while conducting an in-depth analysis of ideologies presented in the newspaper article, it can be noticed that many authors apply to connotations, along with pathos, logos, and ethos to object to the scientific findings.

In most of economic discourses on climate change apply to invented connotations of words and axioms to denounce scientific findings and impregnate controversial ideas to people’s minds. At this point, Clayton’s (2012) article appeals to ethos to persuade the audience that climate change advocacy policy can even be more harmful than the policy chosen by climate change skeptics.

In particular, the author claims that use of alternative energy, such as wind, and sun power, can seriously influence climate both locally and globally. To enhance the position, Clayton (2012) refers to the latest scientific article to analyze the consequences and present ideas of recognized scientists: “Whatever you use energy for, it almost all ends up as a waste heat” (n. p.).

To conclude the discussion and intensify its main idea, the authors applies to pathos while using such words as “scaremongering” and “accusation” while exemplifying one more scientific article. Within this context, Favate (2012) makes use of the “brewing” to emphasize extreme imposition of public school of teaching about climate change as the main threat to the planet.

While presenting two sides of the debate, the authors as if intend to show that climate change issue is on the current agenda overshadowing other, more important issues, such as poverty or unemployment rates.

While resorting to the modes of persuasion in rhetoric writing to render economic aspects of climate change, the authors often refer to rhetoric argumentation rather than to other modes of persuasion. Nevertheless, some ideologists take advantage of this technique to attract the readers and support their position against introducing an ecologically predetermined economy.

Specifically, Torello (2012) presents figures and charts disclosing budget that should be spent on delivering biofuels: “The € 670 million ($ 850 million) investment by the state-controlled company in the plant … aims at benefiting from European Union policies that seek to cut greenhouse-gas emissions from cars and trucks” (n. p.).

Further, the author provides figures and percentages of prices of biofuels to prove that this kind of fuels is not profitable. To enhance the position, Favate (2012) applies to ethos while underlining perspectives of social development while introducing a “green” economy: “Europe’s squeezed consumers and taxpayers are paying the price for a flawed green policy that delivers no environmental benefits” (n. p.).

Hence, the use of statistics is used to persuade the public that use of fuels does not provide benefits to either of spheres. In addition, considering pathos and ethos is also relevant to denounce the existing scientific findings.

Discourse and Ideology: Representing Coalitions’ Ideologies as Special Forms of Social Cognition

With regard to climate change discourse coalitions’ ideologies, the climate-change controversy is discovered as a system of autonomous political and economic spheres. In other words, environmental issues are not discussed as separate notions, but as integral components of economics and politics. Through prism of economic analysis, coalitions’ ideologies aim at capturing social attention by their written discourses.

Therefore, the impact of economic discourse on social cognition can contribute to shaping social perception of such problems as global warming and greenhouse effect. The collected data presented below will provide a better insight into social dimensions of economic discourse structures, as well as dynamic perspectives of developing economic discourse in environmentalist debates.

Social Representation through Discourse Structures

While considering the connection between ideologies of the climate change discourse coalitions and their written discourses, specific emphasis should be placed on aspects of discourses that share common social cognition. Judging from these conclusions, many authors establish preliminary internal structures and cognitive operations that can have a potent impact on social attitudes.

While referring to social constructs and structures, Cox (2009) mentions how economic cost-benefit analysis can influence the marginalization of climate change crisis, which remains the most urgent topic for the world community.

In addition, Cox (2009) mentions about financial issues of climate change strategies for the purpose of provoking societal interest to the environmental problem, as well as to readiness of the population to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

In this respect, Cox (2009) emphasizes that 2 $ per ton is not enough for reducing emissions because “American households are simply not on the same “planet” with the radical change lobby” (n. p.). Apart from referring to financial issues, Cox attains the importance to economic discourse about environmental problems with regard to the world activities concerning gas emissions.

Because many consumers all over the world are concerned with economy to a much greater extent than with the climate change problems, the economic discourse in discussing gas emission threats can be an effective means of attracting attention of specific social groups.

Similar to Cox’s position, who believes that highlighting economic and financial issues of climate change is much more effective than presenting ethical and ecological dimensions of the debate, Torello (2012), Krugman (2010), and Johal (2011) place a specific emphasis on logos to provoke interest of specific social groups.

For instance, Johal, a climate change campaigner, presents a statement is fraught with numerical data: “The [National Roundtable on the Environment and Economy] calculates that the effects of climate change will cost the Canadian economy at least $ 5 billion a year by 2020, and between $ 21 billion and $ 43 billion year, or possibly more, by 2050” (Johal, 2011, n. p.).

Such kinds of predictions foster further discussions over the importance of economic discourses. Following the phrases, Johal (2011) strives to enhance the effect by stating, “The study only looked at a few categories of impacts” (n. d.). Climate change skepticism coalition applies to this approach as well by demonstrating the costs necessary for restructuring the traditional economy.

Specifically, Torello (2012) exposes the prices on biofuel, which 1.5 higher than the price on traditional fuel. As supportive evidence, the skeptic mentions about decisions of the European Environmental Agency that questions the benefits of using biofuels.

As a result, both sides of debates make a specific focus on consumerist tendencies and economic perspectives of social development to persuade the audience in their ideological position.

Looking at Discourse Approaches from a Dynamic Perspective

A rhetorical genre analysis viewed from a dynamic perspective contributes to understanding how various structural choices interact to meet the established communicative goals of a genre. In this respect, the presented economic discourse in climate change coalitions provide an account on understanding the basic social and personal needs with regard to the current debates on environmental problems.

Through economic and financial prism, both coalitions, first of all, refer to the problem of employment that would attract the target audience and make them think over the problem of global warming. In such a way, the ideologist benefits in both cases. Thus, environmental advocacy coalition refers to climate change economy through the perspective of effective job opportunities.

In other words, it involves more social groups who are interested in getting new job and developing their professional skills. At it has been mentioned previously, European Renewable Energy Council (n. d.) takes advantage of the employment rate situation and introduces its environmental ideologies through creating new working space.

Because job opportunities lead to improving the quality of life, Johal (2011) provides much concern with the ecological situation as the main reason for economic crisis. By focusing people’s attention on cost-and-benefit analysis of resources spent on gas emission reduction, the author plans to encourage people to invent strategies aimed at alleviating g the outcomes of carbon dioxide emissions:

We can make a choice to take public transit, use renewable power, eat more responsible, get involved with others in our community who also want action and vote for government leaders who will invest in these solutions and make it easier for citizens and businesses to help fight climate change (Johal, 2011, n. p.).

At a glance, the phase explicitly reveals the necessity of rational use of natural resources. However, the discourse contains important undercurrents and connotations presented between the lines that do not only enhance the pivotal phrases, but also impel people to be economically responsible. Additionally, the phrase creates an ideological bias, which is among the most common rhetoric approach used by coalitions.

Harris (2011) also takes advantage of this approach while presenting his ideological standing. At this point, his views on use of energy with regard environment are extremely controversial. This is explicitly viewed from the article titles that do not actually reveal his apparent affiliation to either of coalitions:

“Do experts really agree that we are causing a climate crisis?” (Harris, 2011, p. 4.).

“Do scientific society open letters really say what we are told they?” (Harris, 2011, p. 10).

“Politicizing the climate science debate has boosted alarmism” (Harris, 2011, p. 16).

While looking closer at those titles, much attention should be paid to the terminology used in combination with metaphorical phrases. The disguised meaning is possible to uncover if the entire article is carefully considered.

Understanding Environmental Discourse Coalitions’ Ideologies as Powerful Tools for ‘Ideological Production, Reproduction and Challenge’

While considering coalitions’ ideologies of as a set of beliefs shaping production, challenges, and reproduction, it is impossible to create those beliefs without identifying target groups. Being a type of social cognition, economic discourse represents practices of social groups through discourse. In this respect, ignoring social collectivities can prevent from delivering climate change concerns through economic discourse.

Rhetorical writing, therefore, is primary focused on filling in the gaps between cognition, society and discourse. Judging from these assumptions, Krugman (2010) underscores the existing beliefs in attempt to present a new position based on existing knowledge. Making use of the power of argumentation, therefore, is the core techniques used by the author.

Specific point of discussion is enhanced through the use of such words as “you”, “we”, and “us” that engages the reader unconsciously into the discussion: “…one you filter out the noise generated by special-interest groups, you discover that there is widespread agreement among environmental economists that market-based program to deal with…” (Krugman, 2010, n. p.)

All these phrases, however, are used to attract the attention and heighten the overall importance of the ideas. Further consideration of discourse proceeds with first person phrases uniting the accepted social beliefs and those provided by the author.

The beliefs shared by the majority of social groups are also represented in the article by Cox (2009). Specifically, the author provides an detailed account on economic strategies of coping with climate change, but interferes the texts with personal metaphorical constructions, which can be noticed in the following passage:

“The Waxman-Markey “cap-and-trade” bill still awaits consideration by the US Senate, interest groups….epitomized by the “Moving Cooler” coalition, but they are “low-balling” the costs of implementation”. Such additions as “cap and trade” and “low-balling” emphasize the presence of personal outlooks in the light of the generally accepted assumptions.

As a result, the author tries to contras between the majority’s view and his own. Apparently, Cox (2009) attempts to highlight the parts that have been little discussed in the light of economic discourse.

Using direct quotes from other sources is another approach by means of which the environmentalists strive to enhance credibility of information. This technique is particularly represented in the discourses by Harvey (2011), Harris (2011), Favate (2012), and Clayton (2012) who are more concerned with citing other credible resources and scientific findings to capture attention of concerned social groups.

While assessing discourse as a form of social representation specific attention should also be paid to norms and values shared by the coalition. In this respect, the participants of the debates can be the ones supporting conservative views on solving the problem of climate changes and the one underscoring the liberal position while looking at environmental issues.

It is logical to assume, therefore, that climate change advocacy coalition expresses a more liberal attitude toward shaping economic infrastructure whereas environmental skeptics stand for conventional underpinnings of the current economy. For instance, Torello (2012), as the brightest representative of conservative vision, expands on the negative consequences of introducing biofuel to the market.


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Clayton, N. (2012). . Wall Street Journal. Web.

Cox, W. (2009). The Cost of Climate Change Strategies, Who Will Tell People?. Frontier Centre. Web.

Crist, E. (2007). Beyond the Climate Crisis: A Critique of Climate Change Discourse. Telos. 141, 29-55.

European Renewable Energy Council. . Greenpeace. Web.

Favate, S. (2012). . The Wall Street Journal. Web.

Global Warming Policy Foundation (2012). Who We Are. Web.

Harris, T. (2011) . Frontier Centre for Public Policy, 102, pp.1-23. Web.

Harvey, I. (2011). Climate Change, Greenhouse Emissions and Canada: Do People Still Care? Frontier Institute. Web.

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Ostling, K. (2009). B. C. Budget Maintain Core Climate Strategy, but Misses Opportunity to Invest in Green Economy. David Suzuki Foundation. Web.

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