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Title: Information based advocacy

“We are not doomed, but challenged”

Carol Browner, October 14, 2000; National Press Club address

George Lakoff on framing

Background | Information | Essay | Argument | Conclusion | Lesson


There are two among many ways to think about families

  1. the strict father image, hence protector from a hostile, if not, evil world.
  2. progressive, self assured, and hence a benefactor for many possibilities.


Lakoff is a linguistics and cognitive science research professor at Cal Berkeley.

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Don't think of an Elephant

George Lakoff

From Lakoff on "framing" chapter.

"tax relief" trumps conservation; family values trumps all competing concepts.

Metaphors are also a means to frame an argument, or a position on a matter of importance.

"This is a frame, it is made up of ideas like affliction and hero. The language that evokes the frame... "

p. 4

"The Conservatives had set a trap. The words draw you into their worldview."

"Use their weakness to your advantage."

"A very good example relates to the environment. Frank Lutz, change the language., "Healthy, safe and clean, "Clear Skies"

"women's imagery "

pp. 22-23.

Frank Lutz, altered global warming into climate change, because it sounded less threatening.

Sources of information on government.

Browner frames the discourse
            Press and the public are informed of the difficulty and need for expertise
            Informs; knowledge bases informative and value-laden argument

Keeping abreast of scientific changes so that the law adapts to new findings – modernization.

A call to Congress, the corporations, the lobbyists and the executive to lead together on climate.


Should she have started with the message that America can and must meet the challenges with an uncommon devotion to evidence and unswerving commitment to technically solving problems?


Ms. Carol Browner, Director of the EPA, Environmental Protection Agency.

An informed and brief speech calling for two major foci with respect to environmental policy in the next administration:

1) Reforming existing Environmental Legislation (Air, Water, Superfund) to bring it up to current level of science and technology, especially the pending Waxman and Pollone Legislation on utilities' pollution reduction.

2) The Challenge of Climate Change requiring an engaged Congress to stimulate a thoughtful public debate on Global Warming, which she characterized as "not some distant challenge" but a set of problems presenting opportunities that "is here now."

She said "we cannot wait" because global warming is a challenge for the US and the nations of the world to address because of its extent, depth of impacts and persistence.

Global Warming is a matter that requires "a new level of political will" to face and according to Ms. Browner, to "master the challenge."

Public Health and the Clean Air Act

“health based standards”           

“common sense” -- apparent to all, ability that is shared by others.

1. Both environment and public health protection
2. Supreme Court decision on health and public policy in the workplace
best available science versus cost  - benefit analysis

1997 new standards under the clean air act           

New ozone, soot, smog and particulate standards

“The growing empirical evidence”
The “non-delegation” theory counters 65 years of Court rulings and 30 years of EPA regulatory practice, upheld by the courts.

Browner vs. American Trucking                                    American Trucking vs. Browner

Need to keep pace with new knowledge, new scientific discoveries.

“The most sweeping change in a generation” based on “peer reviewed” research findings of 250 relevant studies to upgrade the standards to protect public health.

The process incorporated, and correctly so:

  • best available science                                   
  • Nanogram vs. microgram
  • cost-benefit analysis”                                   
  • common sense, cost effective way to reduce pollution

1970-1990, there were $22 trillion in benefits at the cost of $.5 trillion in compliance.

Acid Rain

Industry estimated the regulatory cost to be $1000 per tonne (only $100- $200 / tonne).

Two paramount matters:

  1. Modern strengthened environmental laws, engaged people and Congress
  2. Challenge of climate change, needs and engaged administration

“thoughtful public debate” to charge our agencies to protect the environment and public health has worked in the past to address:

  • banned lead in fuels
  • acid rain
  • toxic wastes
  • stopped midnight dumping
  • ozone depletion

  1. “delay unacceptable”           
  2. a fair, orderly, and inclusive framework            
  3. demanded by all interests.

Global Warming is not some distant challenge, we have been told what to expect, by over 2000 international scientific experts
“we cannot wait for ….data points to be verified.”

Climate change will take a “new level of political will in this country.”          

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Two paramount, meaning leading or unforgettable matters.

  1. environmental laws must reflect current scientific findings for an engaged people & Congress
  2. global warming or climate change, must have leadership and an intelligent administration

“thoughtful public debate” to charge our civic discourse.

Agencies are part of bureaus and are in the Executive Branch under the President & Cabinet

To protect the environment means to regulate based on threats to public health and not strictly speaking to just narrow considerations of cost - benefit analysis

  • banned lead in fuels
  • acid rain
  • toxic wastes
  • stopped midnight dumping
  • ozone depletion

“delay unacceptable” because it gives the edge to marginal producers who would otherwise not be able to compete on a level playing field.           

a fair, orderly, and inclusive framework: regulatory certainty is beneficial to firms and the economy            

demanded by all interests.-- all three sides of the iron or cozy triangle of interest groups.

Lakoff, George, 1941, Cal. Berkeley.


People use metaphors every time they speak. Some of those metaphors are literary - devices for making thoughts more vivid or entertaining. But most are much more basic than that - they're "metaphors we live by", metaphors we use without even realizing we're using them. In this book, George Lakoff and Mark Johnson suggest that these basic metaphors not only affect the way we communicate ideas, but actually structure our perceptions and understandings from the beginning. Bringing together the perspectives of linguistics and philosophy, Lakoff and Johnson offer an intriguing and surprising guide to some of the most common metaphors and what they can tell us about the human mind. And for this new edition, they supply an afterword both extending their arguments and offering a fascinating overview of the current state of thinking on the subject of the metaphor.

Metaphors We Live by (1980) - George Lakoff, Mark Johnson [] [FR] [DE] [UK]

Image schema

Image schema is a recurring structure of, or within, our cognitive processes, which establishes patterns of understanding and reasoning. Image schemas emerge from our bodily interactions, linguistic experience and historical context. The term is explained in Mark Johnson's book The Body in the Mind, in case study 2 of George Lakoff's Women, Fire and Dangerous Things and by Rudolf Arnheim in Visual Thinking.

In contemporary cognitive linguistics, an image schema is considered an embodied pre linguistic structure of experience that motivates conceptual metaphor mappings. Evidence for image schemas is drawn from a number of related disciplines, including work on cross-modal cognition in psychology, from spatial cognition in both linguistics and psychology, and from neuroscience.

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Tradition, recent precedents, legislative intentions.

1800s, Jeffersonian rationality

1933-39, New Deal, agency delegation of responsibility to from Congress

1969, National Environmental Policy Act

1970, (1990 revised), Clean Air Act

1972, Clean Water Act

1982, The Reagan delay in implementing acid rain regulations

1994-2006, Republican majority in a nearly evenly divided Congress

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"The land, water, air and living things of the United States are a heritage of the whole nation. They need to be protected for the benefit of all Americans, both now and in the future. The continued strength and welfare of our nation depend on the quantity and quality of our resources and on the quality of the environment in which our people live."

The Environmental Pollution Panel of the Presidents Science Advisory Committee. 1965

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Pew Business Council



Joseph Romm, Cool Companies

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"That is what framing is all about. Framing is about getting language that fits your worldview. It is not just language. The ideas are primary--and the language carries those ideas, evokes those ideas."

We need to talk about values. "You need to speak from your moral perspective at all times." is the regulation of everything.

Unlike the right, the left does not think strategically."

Voting your identity and values" do not necessarily correspond with "self-interest."

There is little evidence for the Enlightenment's belief of the rational person.

fallacy of rationality.

pp. 29-33.

Political book summaries at Capitol Reader

Federal Relief Agencies

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Carol Browner had proposed a vision of reform based on science and tempered by practicality. The pressing demands have only grown and the window of opportunity in addressing these matters is closing more rapidly the longer we wait. That is due to the increasing level of green house gas, or heat trapping vapors in the atmosphere, and the decreased infrared radiation due to particulate pollution that has altered rainfall patterns, reduced soil moisture and a growing number of environmental refugees, especially in sub-Saharan Africa since the 1970s.

Like compound interest on debt, the longer we wait to reduce pollution, the harder it will be and the costlier it will become to reduce ever growing perils to air and water sources.

Common sense solutions exist now and can be employed with no regrets.

Check the National Press Club Web Site or search Carol Browner's speeches for this week: 10-3-2000.

National Press Club                                                            

Carol Browner, Director of the Environmental Protection Agency: EPA (1993-2000),

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Delay is not an option due to the enormity of the problem caused by rising per capita pollution and the difficulty, due to resistance, in reducing nitrogen, carbon dioxide and mercury wastes from pervasive and persistent fossil fuel combustion.

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