I have railed in the past about the progressive world’s stubborn over-reliance on messaging, framing and other games with words in our efforts to persuade and inspire behavior change.

In a fantasy world in which the human population was made up entirely of disembodied left brain hemispheres, that might just work. In the real world not so much.

No one has explored this more intelligently than David Roberts in his recent blog post about the fantasy of reaching the right with climate messaging.

People who devote their time and attention to communications tend have great faith in its power. They believe climate change can be communicated to anyone, if you just proceed from the right values and frames. I think this is wrong…

Is messaging important? Do words matter? Of course they do! But they are only part of the puzzle. When the goal is behavior change (donate, take action, vote a certain way, make lifestyle changes, etc.), start with the Heath Brothers’ checklist made famous in their remarkable book Switch.

Behavior change is hard. Unless you go beyond wordplay and use all the tools in the toolbox, it’s impossible.