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Senator Whitehouse is the king of climate change speeches. But are they effective?

Senator Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island held a placard that he often used as a prop during his floor speeches on climate change.MANDEL NGAN

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Happy Tuesday and welcome to Rhode Map, your daily guide to everything happening in the Ocean State. I’m Dan McGowan and I think I prefer snow over heat waves. Follow me on Twitter @DanMcGowan or send tips to Dan.McGowan@globe.com.

ICYMI: Rhode Island was up to 17,904 confirmed coronavirus cases on Monday, after adding 103 new cases over the weekend. The three-day average for first-time positive cases is 60. The state announced five more deaths, bringing the total to 995. There were 61 people in the hospital, two in intensive care, and two were on ventilators.


US Senator Sheldon Whitehouse paused his weekly floor speeches on climate change during the pandemic, but a new study shows why he remains the leading advocate in Congress when it comes to addressing the issue.

Researchers from the University of Vermont, University of Wisconsin – Oshkosh, and Oklahoma State University – Stillwater found that between 1996 and 2015, Whitehouse delivered more speeches on climate change (139) than any other senator. Keep in mind that he was elected in 2006.

”His efforts alone represent 5 percent of the entire corpus and 12 percent of all Democratic speeches in the U.S. Senate since he began his career in 2007,” the study states. “That proportion swells to 32 percent in the time since he began his ‘Time to Wake Up’ addresses in April 2012.”

Some of the findings are unsurprising: It’s not breaking news that the polarization over climate change has deepened over the last several decades, for example.

But the researchers do offer interesting insight into the forms of persuasion used by members of Congress.


Democrats tend to focus on message-based appeals that “prompt the audience to evaluate the content of the material that is presented, including relevant facts,” while Republicans use cue-based appeals “where the audience is encouraged to attend to more easily assimilated ‘signals’ or associations that serve as cognitive shortcuts.”

So which strategy works better?

“By tempering outright denial of science with a softer narrative based on anecdotes and storytelling, we argue that Republicans increasingly employ a cue-based form of mass communication that – if previous research holds – is likely to be more persuasive and harder to contradict than the Democrats’ factual and straightforward message-based approach,” the study states.


Rhode Map wants to hear from you. If you’ve got a scoop or a link to an interesting news story in Rhode Island, e-mail us at RInews@globe.com.

Ed Fitzpatrick reports that the Rhode Island School of Design is launching one of the most ambitious efforts by any college in the country to address racial diversity and equity, in part by returning looted artifacts.

⚓ A 14-year-old girl has been charged with murder in Providence, and Amanda Milkovits reports that means the suspect is the youngest person in the city to face a murder charge since 2005.

⚓ Our talented colleagues at STAT checked into President Trump’s claim that more coronavirus testing “creates more cases.” Here’s a state-by-state breakdown.

⚓ In an effort to be more like Rhode Island, Massachusetts is now allowing cocktails-to-go.



Kids: Why it’s okay to allow your kids to be bored (Spoiler: they’re resilient, and they’ll find fun).

Politics: President Trump is trailing in pretty much all of the polls, but James Pindell writes that there is understandable skepticism from anyone who was shocked by 2016.

Veep-stakes: How US Senator Elizabeth Warren has remained part of Joe Biden’s vice presidential search.

Police: Massachusetts is considering something Rhode Island already does: Giving the attorney general’s office oversight in police use-of-force incidents that turn deadly.


Each day, Rhode Map offers a cheat sheet breaking down what's happening in Rhode Island. Have an idea? E-mail us at RInews@globe.com.

⚓ A new coronavirus testing location is opening today in the parking lot at the Rhode Island Convention Center, but the Rhode Island College location has been shut down. If you need a test, you can sign up here.

⚓ More testing news: Care New England is looking for health care workers and first responders to participate in a serology study beginning today. To register, text “TestRI” to 78378.

⚓ Governor Gina Raimondo will hold a 3 p.m. press conference outside the State House to sign the Rhode Island Uniform Parentage Act into law. The law clears the path for LGBTQ families to become parents.

⚓ The Finance Committees for both the Rhode Island House of Representatives and the Senate meet at 4 p.m. to discuss various aspects of the state budget.


⚓ CORRECTION: In this space yesterday, I accidentally wrote that the Senate and Board of Elections were meeting. That was from last week. I also spilled a strawberry Dunkin’ Refresher on my leg, so it wasn’t my finest Monday.

⚓ Do you ️♥ Rhode Map? Your subscription is what makes it possible. We’ve got a great offer here.

Thanks for reading. Send comments and suggestions to dan.mcgowan@globe.com, or follow me on Twitter @DanMcGowan. See you tomorrow.

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Dan McGowan can be reached at dan.mcgowan@globe.com. Follow him @danmcgowan.