Monday, September 17, 2007

A new take on the climate change lecture

This is actually the whole point to the blog -- I don't have the time/attention span to sit down and write this essay as I'd like to, so hopefully the short, periodical, conversation expository style of blogs will help me get this ideas out at all. Also, you can comment.

So without further adieu, and so I can get back to work, Part I: Framing the Debate

Recently we have seen climate change go through a major metamorphosis, both as a natural phenomenon and a subject of exposition. Most of the natural changes – increased polar melting, extreme weather patterns, etc. – have been negative. The silver lining to those clouds, however, may be the corresponding shift we have seen in global public opinion. The success of Al Gore’s documentary is only the most visible example of a trend that increases support for action while exposing critics as the corporate shills and publicity-seeking crackpots they frequently are. Climate advocates, many of whom have spent decades proselytizing to skeptics, now find themselves preaching to the converted. A shift in audience demands a shift in rhetoric, and last week’s polar melting news suggests it should happen fast. By advancing our focus from persuasion to the pursuit of a meaningful response, we will optimize the effect of our message and accelerate progress towards change.
The timing here is critical, and serves multiple purposes. It is, of course, necessary to accelerate our search for solutions. Perhaps more importantly, moving beyond the realm of debate solidifies support. People are extremely sensitive to the perception of uncertainty in leadership (Al Gore again?), and as the Intelligent Design dustup made abundantly clear, scientists are a particularly vulnerable group in this respect. When one side has enough support, changing the subject altogether leaves its opponents with a diminishing body of adherents. Sometimes even the perception of support is enough to make significant advances with this strategy (see Iraq War, selling of; and Iraq War, still paying for). For climate change, this means relegating the venerable Mauna Loa Curve to the textbooks, ignoring Michael Crichton altogether, and adopting a new debate question for which debating at all presupposes acknowledgment of the reality of the problem.

Next time: So where to next? Or, what the Church can teach us about climate change

Home sweet home

I finally did it. Yeeha. Apologies for self-important references* to 19th century English poets -- I didn't have time to actually be creative, you know, on my own.

But WTF -- someone already took my first choice self-important reference to English poetry! And that person is also named Jon! Did I accidentally start a blog on some ill-remembered winter night in 2005?

*Also aware that writing my first blog post as if to an audience counts as self-important. Or writing a blog post at all, for that matter.