Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Searching for the right words

In today's NY Times, science reporter Andrew Revkin has a commentary about the challenge of communicating the need for action on climate change. The associated post on Dot Earth, Revkin's NY Times blog, includes my Desmogblog "100 year letter" and my thoughts on the communicating the urgency of action. If you have any other motivational campaigns or strategies, leave a comment here or at Dot Earth.

Ironically, this year the lake should be solidly frozen by mid-December, but with the recent move out west, I'll be missing the new year's tradition mentioned in the letter.

UPDATE: There are some interesting (and a couple crazy) comments after the Dot Earth post. My response was:

"In communicating publicly about climate change, my first instinct is always to talk about the inequality, that the developing world will pay the largest price for a problem largely created by the developed world. (followed by the unfortunate irony that the developed world also has more money to spend on adaptation). Unfortunately - I wish this were not true - opening up with photos from Bangladesh or Kiribati, the Pacific island nation where I have done field work, can lose the audience, for all the reasons cited by the sociologists in the earlier Dot Earth post. So, sometimes it may help to start with a real local or personal example, then talk honestly about how the rest of the world is being and will be affected by climate change."

3 comments:

dan said...

Professor, I saw the Dot Earth post and your email too. Good ideas, all. Your letter touched me deeply when i first read it on Desmong a few weeks ago. SHOuld be part of a book of collected letters like yours.

You asked about other motivational campsigns: i have one, about polar cities. Google the term or look at the blueprints here: http://pcillu101.blogspot.com

My "modest proposal" a la J Swift is to spur/goad people to take actions now to stop global warming now, so we never have to even think about polar cities. But now it's useful to THINK about them, as a non threatening thought experiment. What do YOU think? If time allows, email me at danbloom GMAIL drill...

Simon Donner said...

Thanks for the comment. I like the "modest proposal" approach to attract attention. Problem today is that some fraction of the audience may mistake satire for a real solution, such that proposals initially suggested in the vein of Swift become serious policy options. I think we are seeing some of that today with the media coverage of and research on geoengineering. Many of the geoengineering proposals began as "if we don't stop reducing emissions, we may need to do something crazy like..."

dan said...

Thanks for the comment, Simon. BTW, the UBC email seems not to work, comes back undelivered each time. The NYTImes link takes readers there.

You said " like the "modest proposal" approach to attract attention. HOWEVER....Problem today is that some fraction of the audience may mistake satire for a real solution, such that proposals initially suggested in the vein of Swift become serious policy options. .."

Yes, good point, and point well taken, I need to be real careful how I communicate this modest proposal. It is not satire exactly, but of course, my main goal is to motivate people today to take action today. WHo knows the future in 2500? Not me. But as a non threatening thought experiment, I plan to keep pushing concept of polar cities for the rest of my life...... and I value all the good feedback I get, becauser the important things are happening NOW and we need action NOW. My blog is a minor minor footnote to the whole thing..... of course!

BTW, a radio stastion in Vancouver is going to interview me next week a la polar cities, a guy named Alex Smith, do you know him? He should interview you too!