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Post Super Bowl (power outage and all), I thought it would be as good a time as any to do some Monday morning quarterbacking of what in my view went wrong with the climate change discussion in America.

Strange thing is, almost everyone I talk to these days agrees something weird is happening with the weather.  Ever since Hurricane Sandy, normally hardcore climate change denialists are saying things like this, “It was 45 degrees in Chicago yesterday.  I grew up there and it was never 45 degrees in January.”  According to recent polls, up to 73 percent of Americans now believe climate change is real and man-made.

The facts on the ground have caught up with us but unfortunately most people still don’t comprehend the dire situation we have created for ourselves. We’re in desperate need of an immediate conversion to a low-carbon economy and require a transformation similar to how the U.S. became a war-time economy overnight during World War II.

It all could’ve been so much different, in my opinion.  I think the climate change reality-based community missed the boat to create earlier action.  What should we/could we have done better?  And how can we do better in the future now that Obama has promised to tackle climate change during his second term?

Gather Allies Together – When Al Gore drew the country's attention to global warming with “An Inconvenient Truth” back in 2006, all the relevant NGOs, public agencies, sympathetic businesses and the like should’ve held a Climate Change Communications Summit that laid out a broad communications strategy over the years to come, pulling their various resources together in the service of a common cause.  The climate change reality-based community was (and still is) fighting a battle against the vast wealth of the fossil fuel industry and it needed all the help it could get.  Sharing resources and mindshare would've helped.

Find and Groom a Charismatic Spokesperson – The next step should’ve been finding and media training a national climate change reality spokesperson.  Preferably a scientist with unassailable integrity, he or she would serve as the major point person to explain the reality and extent of the looming danger to our civilization.  Some might think that spokesperson was Al Gore but I’ve always felt the fact he was a politician worked against us.  The right wing media more easily made climate change a partisan issue rather than a common threat facing us all.  

Back in the 1950s, the anti-nuclear proliferation movement had Einstein as its spokesperson. Where was our Einstein of climate science? NASA’s James Hansen might’ve been a good pick for his position, knowledge and integrity, but I’ve never seen him put in front of the cameras for some reason.

The most persuasive evidence for me of the reality of man-made climate change was when the top seven Academies of Science from around the world signed a statement some years ago to that effect.  Perhaps bringing together a representative from each Academy on fact-based information tour of the U.S. would’ve helped put any doubt to rest.

It’s Not about Polar Bears Stranded on Ice Floes – Early in the climate change debate, many Americans with a passing interest were given the impression that polar bears and other species endangered by global warming was the main reason to take action. While it’s important to maintain all our precious eco-systems, that was never going to spur the populace to action. The message should always have been focused on pending human calamities like food production losses and destructive storms, as we’ve seen come to pass this past year with the droughts and fires in the Southwest and Hurricane Sandy’s flooding of New York.

There Is a Reasonable Road to the Future – Now that the fact of climate change is hopefully becoming clear to most Americans at long last, there still needs to be someone who communicates a logical and doable transition to a low-carbon society.  I’ve seen bits and pieces of this roadmap but nobody has laid it out completely and hit it hard over and over.  People need to know and believe there is a way out of this mess.  Only then will they be motivated to move in the right direction.

And that’s my Monday morning quarterbacking on influencing the climate change debate.  I am reminded of the old adage, however, that hindsight is always 20-20.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    WarrenS, AoT, too many people, DWG, Mokurai

    The future is green:

    by bogmanoc on Mon Feb 04, 2013 at 09:05:34 PM PST

  •  I disagree about the spokesperson (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    DWG, bogmanoc

    But I think the rest is dead on. In regards to the polar bears, I think that was a case of fighting the last war. Charismatic megafauna are great for pointing out the problem with extinction due to territory loss. Not so much for global warming.

  •  Yes, things could have gone much better. (0+ / 0-)

    I honestly think the Iran Hostage Crisis in 1979 hurt the planet much more than any other single event.  Carter, jeez he was a great president, had solar panels on the White House! Then he lost the election to the star of Bedtime for Bonzo.

    another "could have have been better" moment was the first stolen election. We got Bonzo instead of Gore. If only we had just one more honorable Supreme Court justice.

    What awful luck. It is going to suck for many species, including us.

    •  Yep He Did Important Deregulation of High Finance (0+ / 0-)

      that Reagan would build on. Bummer about the helicopters intended for desert warfare that couldn't cope with dust, though.

      We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

      by Gooserock on Mon Feb 04, 2013 at 09:30:30 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Einstein of Climate Science? Are You Kidding?? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Words In Action, bogmanoc

    Sagan is probably the only broadly known scientist of the past 30 years who had the stature to galvanize the general public on a national or global issue. But by the bad luck of his early timing, the threat he brought to popular awareness was global cooling not warming.

    Einstein is in the history books because minds like his almost never happen.

    The fact that we lack an Einstein now is normal.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Mon Feb 04, 2013 at 09:29:15 PM PST

  •  You could be #2000 (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Words In Action

    Should you wish to try do do something about global warming, please take a look

    Please sign and forward to 23000 of your closest friends
    Barry Allen

  •  The solution to Global Warming Denial in the US (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    as to so many other problems, is to get rid of the gerrymanders that give Republicans control of the House, and the filibuster that gives them control of the Senate. Also to GOTV. There are significantly more Democrats than Republicans, but many sit on their hands, convinced that their individual votes don't matter. Republicans don't care if their votes matter, because they hate us so much.

    As to Global Warming itself, we are nearing parity between the costs of electricity from fossil carbon and electricity from wind and solar thermal. If we could get rid of carbon subsidies and institute even a modest tax, even cap-and-trade, even cap-and-rebate, the tipping point would come that much sooner, and the Energy Rush would be on.

    Which brings us back to the gerrymander and the filibuster.

    Gerrymandra delenda est

    by Mokurai on Tue Feb 05, 2013 at 07:00:19 AM PST

  •  The hatred of Al Gore by folks on the right (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Words In Action, bogmanoc

    certainly prevented his message from being heard by them. One of my relatives said he hated Al Gore so much he couldn't care what Gore said about global warming.

    The spirit of liberty is the spirit which is not too sure that it is right. -- Judge Learned Hand, May 21, 1944

    by ybruti on Tue Feb 05, 2013 at 07:20:36 AM PST

  •  I'm not sure there is a clear way out of this (0+ / 0-)

    80 % of Success is Just Showing Up! CLIMATE CHANGE: The era of procrastination, half-measures & delays is coming to an end; In its place we are entering a period of consequences!

    by Churchill on Wed Feb 06, 2013 at 02:34:06 PM PST

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