The focus on emotion and aesthetics in turn quashes any hopes of deliberation, which in the Habermasian sense involves the making and questioning of assertions--thus, rationality. Lately the issue of climate change has placed this problem in the foreground. For the public to support measures to prevent climate change requires us to draw sensible conclusions from probability assessments of catastrophic outcomes owing to fossil fuel burning and to support policy change to avert these outcomes. Though there are always a diverse range of reactions to consider among plurally defined "publics," by and large North Americans as a population have not proven especially competent at mobilizing in response to the scientific evidence.
In response, the environmental movement has been turning back towards what it has done best in the past, which is to rally sentiment around threatened animals and in some cases imply a corresponding threat to humans. We can see this turn in the publicity surrounding the picture below, which attributes this cancerous tumour in a whitefish to the chemicals involved in oil sands mining, and in the videos I discussed previously. With these images the most broadly catastrophic outcome of fossil fuel mining--that is, climate change--is temporarily tabled while we focus on more limited but also more tangible and sensational harms.