Sunday, April 20, 2014

Polar bears, penguins and pie charts...

Have got to go.

As a communications strategy they are swiftly diminishing in utility. Which is a polite way of saying - they're no longer working! 

I recently read that, over the past 6 years, the number of Americans who "believe" in climate change has actually gone down. Yet many in the climate change activism community continue to blog and tweet and talk about the same old things. Here a pie chart, there a graph, there a picture of a (robustly fluffy) polar bear cub on a crumbling ice floe.

These things speak to me. If you're reading this post, they likely speak to you, too. But it's becoming more and more apparent that they've grabbed all the market share they can - and we need some new communications tools in our toolbox!

We have an embarrassment of riches when it comes to topics of conversation, because climate change is affecting everything!

So let's ditch the wildlife - or at least reduce the mentions - and focus on people. We can talk about taxes - food security - insurance prices - the lives of firefighters and other first responders - food prices - disease - kids - the mysterious die-off of moose in the great northern woods - real estate in Florida - crumbling infrastructure in the midst of ever wilder weather - tornado alley becoming tornado boulevard - chocolate and coffee - climate change refugees - ticks moving north (see "moose die-off, above) - farmers - gardeners - bees - hunting - fishing - our national parks... Truly, the list is pretty much endless.

Awwww.... SO CUTE!
So consider giving the polar bear and penguin pics a rest. Trust that the evidence backs you up, WITHOUT having to brandish a graph or pie chart every time you speak about climate change!

It's real - it's here - it's flucking gripping - and we need to reach out and grab people's hearts and emotions as well as their minds by telling them the story of how the things that they love are in imminent peril.

The "opposition" has no compunction about using nakedly manipulative language, and they don't have truth on their side. We have the truth on our side. It shouldn't be hard to communicate effectively and change minds. We just need to switch up tactics - and soon.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

That Sinking Feeling

Watching football this morning - NBC now carries Premiere League matches, and as I type I am watching Stoke v Cardiff with half an eye - and I was suddenly struck by the ads unspooling before me.

Off-road vehicles (the top of the line model comes with a free winch!).

Motor sports - can you say "pointless waste of fossil fuel?

And lately on every channel I've been agog at all of the stuff we Americans consume that we simply do not need - that guzzle gas - that waste resources and that the production and distribution of which must pollute and lay waste... 

Riding lawn mowers. For suburban home lawns, not golf courses. 

Huge, nearly industrial scale air conditioning units for the home - marketed by pushing the concept of personal comfort above all.

Luxury cars - immense heavy resource-gulping CO2-emitting monsters that by all rights ought to have gone the way of the dodos decades ago, but that have somehow crept back into the market and are shamelessly touted with no reference to their gas mileage - just by pandering to the apparently endless human need to feel like a member of the pampered leisure class.

Appliances - giant gleaming brushed steel monstrosities that grow larger... and larger... and larger... and clearly are no longer being replaced when they wear out, but rather when they are no longer "on trend" and don't fit in with the decor.

The sinking feeling is not that any of this exists, but that all of it - the whole pleasure-principal driven, self-indulgent, mindless, wasteful, selfish consumer culture that surrounds and enfolds us and strangles us in its endlessly inventive tenticles occupies a space so far below our conscious "this is bad for the environment" radar screen that it will ultimately prove impossible to get people to wake up and realize that WE DON'T NEED THIS STUFF. And it - the production and consumption and powering and disposal of it - is part of what is destroying our precious climate.

There are some days when I don't have much hope.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Twitter Rally, May 1 at 9:00am EST

Then we march on Washington - in... when?  September?  I'd like to do it on Monday, September 22nd, for personal reasons... but don't folks normally march on Washington on a weekend?  How about September 20th?

I joined my first Twitter rally a couple of weeks ago, against HR 4302: Protecting Access to Medicare Act of 2014.  It felt powerful and exciting to be tweeting with others who were demanding this bill be voted down!

And it was signed into law on March 26th.

So.... not the greatest experience my first time 'round.

Still, any time one disses Twitter, someone is sure to pipe up, "But - Arab Spring!"  So it seems to make a difference in some situations.  Probably not the best tool for making Congress budge on climate change legislation - but perhaps a tool to rally support for a September march on Washington?

Something has to give.  Doesn't it?

Friday, April 4, 2014

What do we want?

What DO we want?

Do we want action on climate change itself? Or action on mitigation plans? Or do we want both? Or do we just want to comment and add our shrill hysteria to the rising tide of voices that are TALKING and not DOING?  Do we want to FEEL like we're making a difference without actually putting anything at all on the line?

It feels appallingly apparent that we aren't going to get any action out of Washington DC - with the exception of some Executive Orders from President Obama - if we don't raise a holy stink.

But where is that holy stink coming from? Who is out there agitating? Where's the action in the streets?

I "took to Twitter" (gawd I hate that phrase) again this morning and had my usual grumpy epiphany about how it’s just an echo chamber in there. Me sending passionate, earnest tweets about climate change refugees. You sending passionate, urgent tweets about reframing the issue as one of food scarcity, or poverty, or global conflict. (And the occasional troll, demanding answers.)

Of course we did just have Earth Hour. So that’s something.

But where is the action? Where are the protesters? Where are the people chaining themselves to the White House fence? Where are the citizens? Where’s our Occupy the Climate movement?

I blog – you blog – he tweets – we tweet – Al Gore tweets (and attends conferences at swank resorts in the Alps).

Are we all going to be thumbtyping as the toxic bilge waters rise and the fires rage and the storms batter down our sea walls and people die in the streets of Peoria of malaria and dengue fever?

Part of me awaits in breathless anticipation to see how this disaster movie plays out.  Most of me is watching the inaction with utter horror.

Because it’s me, too.