For the second time in almost as many months I have managed to get myself blindsided by a talk radio host.
As you can imagine I am now feeling suitably sheepish, not least because this is up there with getting outwitted by a tea towel in terms of intellectual embarrassment, but also because the best definition of stupidity we've got is an inability to learn from one's mistakes.
Still, in my defence, it was Monday morning and when the researcher for BBC Three Counties Radio rung up to ask if I'd be available to talk about Tesco's plans to put carbon labels on some of its products I had no reason to be suspicious.
She said the show's host, Jonathan Vernon-Smith, wanted a view on how the scheme could work and whether consumers would see it as a case of the supermarket jumping on the green bandwagon, which all sounded fair enough (although, in retrospect the alarm bells should of sounded when she signed off with the words, "try to enjoy it").
What followed was straight out of the talk radio host handbook: leading questions, incredulous tone, refusal to accept any of the positives to be found in the scheme, all culminating in a rather long-winded rant.
I was asked why anyone really wants to see carbon data on products, why supermarkets are trying to make people feel guilty, and why Tesco wants to do something that is only going to confuse customers, "just like the traffic light fiasco" surrounding food labels (that'll be the fiasco of improved nutrition labelling that most supermarkets report has led to a decline in sales of the most unhealthy foods, then).
My attempts to defend the scheme - which is after all only a pilot and is on balance likely to prove beneficial - only served to prompt a slightly bizarre rant in which Vernon-Smith asked, I can only assume rhetorically, "who has the time to start checking the carbon count of products? Who really has the time? Not me that's for sure."
Well, erm, thanks for that.
Now, I know I've posted on this before - after I found myself trying to debate the case for curbing carbon emissions on LBC Radio with people who think global warming will be a good thing because they'll be able to grow oranges and lemons in their garden - but what are you supposed to do when faced with these types of questions and the environmental scepticism they embody.
Last time, I think I espoused ignoring them, on the grounds that the point of view of the questioner - climate change scepticism, wilful ignorance of the global warming threats, refusal to countenance new green technologies even where they bring huge benefits – is essentially based on a series of beliefs rather than facts and consequently it is almost impossible to change their mind.
But now I'm not so sure. Of course, it makes sense from a marketing and communications perspective for businesses to target the receptive audience offered by the new breed of green consumers. But at the same time green products will only go mainstream if the entrenched hostility towards green issues embodied by the talk radio hosts is challenged and defeated.
So how do you go about beating them at their own game? Where is the nuclear option that stop's the next "yeah, but" rejoinder dead in its tracks?
I'm pretty sure losing your temper and pointing out to the green cynics that they are just plain wrong is not the answer (although it is a tempting option), just as I would never advocate any sort of censorship to force such opinions from the media spotlight. So what do you do?
So far all I've come up with is to try and ensure you have facts at your disposal that counter the anti-environmental argument, to always focus on the positive benefits green products and services can deliver, and to try to explain that principles of risk mitigation mean that at the very least green measures represent a sensible precaution.
This all makes sense and is equally good advice for any firm putting together a green campaign as it is for individuals stuck talking to climate sceptics. But I'm sure you'll agree it isn't the most impressive rhetorical arsenal when you are faced with an adversary armed with the far more potent weapons of knee-jerk hostility and an only passing acquaintance with the concept of logic.
What all this is leading to is an unashamed plea for help. If you have any ideas on how best to engage with those who are convinced all green business activity is a case of hype, or conspiracy, or both, then please put the answer on the back of a postcard (or at the bottom in the comments box – it's greener).
It's either that or I'm going to have to get used to be outmanoeuvred by tea towels, which, as you can imagine, is a less than attractive prospect.
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