Some say Climate Change is all a hoax; some say it’s too late; some say it’s very urgent but not hopeless.
Carbon dioxide must be removed from the atmosphere to avoid extreme climate change, say scientists One of the first scientists to warn of the dangers of climate change, Professor Jim Hansen, warns the 's*** is hitting the fan' Humans must start removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere as soon as possible to avoid saddling future generations with a choice between extreme climate change or spending hundreds of trillions of dollars to avoid it, according to new research. An international team of researchers – led by Professor Jim Hansen, Nasa’s former climate science chief – said their conclusion that the world had already overshot targets to limit global warming to within acceptable levels was “sufficiently grim” to force them to urge “rapid emission reductions”. But they warned this would not be enough and efforts would need to be made to reduce the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere by about 12.5 per cent. (July 19, 2017) Independent [more on Climate Change in our area]
I suspect communicating Climate Change is going to change as it becomes warmer and one’s audience changes. (You probably don’t want to tell a class of 6th graders that “the 's*** is hitting the fan'”.)
Four recent articles suggest where communicating this crisis messaging might be going:
- 1. Short Answers to Hard Questions About Climate Change (July 6, 2017) New York Times
- 2. The Uninhabitable Earth, Annotated Edition The facts, research, and science behind the climate-change article that explored our planet’s worst-case scenarios. By David Wallace-Wells (July 14, 2017) New York Magazine.
- 3. Don’t Panic, Do Act: A Climate Resource With Real SolutionsBy Mark Tercek, President & CEO, The Nature Conservancy (July 14, 2017) The Huffington Post
- 4. Doomsday scenarios are as harmful as climate change denial By Michael E. Mann, Susan Joy Hassol and Tom Toles (July 12, 2017) The Washington Post
Climate Change isn’t an issue, it’s our reality
I don’t think anyone has a real handle on the best way to communicate Climate Change because it’s so complicated and divisive. Predictions (educated guesses) are necessary because we need to plan, but they can be very bleak. And, with the election of Trump, climate denial has been given a new (monstrous) life that must be resisted at every unsustainable twist.
Climate Change communicators should bake indicators (like the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere) and other climate gages into their messaging. Keeping the public on track that Climate Change isn’t an issue, but our new reality, can be consistently validated with the latest objective information on where we are at any given point in this crisis.
The EPA in 2016, just before Pruitt arrived on the scene, published their most recent report “Climate Change Indicators in the United States”. (It still looks valid.) Other governments and organizations are probably publishing their Climate Change indicators too. We need all the environmental feedback we can get.
Rather than prioritizing optimism or pessimism, it would be more useful for communicators to keep humanity informed on how our planet is actually responding to the warming.
If we don’t keep exact track of the indicators of Climate Change, many of our efforts will be delusional—making our efforts to communicate this crisis delusional as well.