22 May 2011

Compassionate Climate Messaging

Something a bit different this week. I invite you to visit Joseph Romm's Climate Progress blog, and particularly his 5 January 2011 post, Why science-based (dire) warnings are an essential part of good climate messaging.

I found it fascinating not just to read that my instincts have been right all along (or at least vindicated by the small sampling in question), but to see the breadth of responses in the comments section. (Most are from people who understand the science of climate change, and a few actually speak to doing the right thing for our children and future generations.)

Here's the gist of a Berkeley study, as summarized by Joe Romm:
This study, if it proves anything, finds that the strongest possible s
cience-based messaging is effective. There is a vast sea of thorough scientific literature that makes the case that we risk multiple catastrophes if we don’t get off our current emissions path. Climate hawks should feel confident explaining to the public as clearly as possible the dire consequences if we fail to take action to reduce emissions together with the myriad cost-effective solutions available today that make averting catastrophe so damn cheap compared to the alternative.

[...] If people want to draw conclusions from the small sample of this study, then it would seem to be telling us:

  1. The message that does work is we face Hell and High Water if we don’t act but fortunately much of the technology we need to solve this problem already exists.
  2. The message that doesn’t work is that the problem is so hopeless science doesn’t even know where to start.
Anyway, if you're not a reader of climate change blogs, Romm's is a good one to start with. He chronicles both the catastrophic impacts we'll get (and that some parts of the world are already experiencing) and the solutions that already exist, just waiting for political will to change.

As I've been trying to get across to friends, family, colleagues, older students, neighbours and strangers for quite a while, making a (now urgent) transition from our fossil fuelled economy to a perpetual energy economy will create a world that is safer, cleaner, healthier, more equitable and more peaceful.

How's that for compassionate messaging? So far, I've never had anyone argue with me!

Now, go enjoy the straight up, unapologetic, wonderfully assertive writings of Joe Romm at Climate Progress.

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I would appreciate hearing your thoughts or questions on this post or anything else you've read here. What is your take on courage and compassion being an important part of the solution to the climate change emergency?