Friday, February 27, 2009

Climate Change Conundrum

With every passing week, we get more data that should be driving home the reality of Climate Change and what it means for society. The fact is that opinions are not changing in relationship to the facts that we are discovering, documenting about how the world works. Quite the opposite is true. Most people now perceive that climate change is a political issue to be decided in the political arena, not subject to the practices of science, the search for a true explanation of our world.

Nothing illustrates this more clearly than the controversy swirling around George Will and the Washington Post over Will's very scientifically inaccurate, some say dishonest, series of editorials regarding climate change.

I have my own ideas about what has to happen, but you have to click Read more! to follow that thread.

It is obvious that the issues surrounding climate change have been highly politicized. The sources are pretty easy to follow. A Canadian blog site, West Coast Climate Equity, has done a good job of assembling information on this aspect of the situation. This week they ran two entries concerning an upcoming NY City Conference on Climate Change sponsored by the allegedly non-partisan Heartland Institute. This includes identifying sources of funding such as the Koch Foundation, wholly controlled by our largest privately held petroleum company.

Still, knowing who is behind some of the mis-information does little good if we are not in a position to take some action. Yesterday, I read two different articles in Orion Magazine that offer their own unique perspective. In fact, they were so good I became a fan of Orion Magazine on Facebook just to keep well informed since the online version arrives a long time before the print copy does.

In A Failure to Communicate, Flock of Dodos director Randy Olson reminds us of how we fail far too often.
I found myself looking at failed environmental communications campaigns and seeing the enormous amount of information—facts and figures—they were hurling at the public. I began hearing the humorlessness of so many environmentalists and wondering why they couldn’t just lighten up a bit. And while some great environmental writers know how to speak directly to and from the heart, so much of what gets communicated by large environmental organizations ends up devoid of passion and sincerity
. He offers a solution that made Flock of Dodos a success.
The object is to move the message out of the head and into the heart with sincerity, into the gut with humor, and if you’re skillful enough, all the way down to the lower organs with sex appeal.
The other article, Climate Revelations,was by Auden Schendler, Sustainability Director of the Aspen Skiing Company.
In theory, I work to address all aspects of the resort’s environmental impact, from weed control to cage-free eggs, from taking calls about new technologies to handling attacks about what a bunch of hypocrites we are. It’s fun. I enjoy it. But, to be brutally honest, I don’t care that much about those subjects. Twenty years ago, I took my first course in climate science. The news I read today is essentially the same. And I believe two things: First, to quote ABC newsman Bill Blakemore, “climate isn’t the story of our time; it’s the only story.” Second, it seems obvious that a ski resort should both care deeply about climate change and also be in the vanguard of solving it.
What Auden reports is not good. After all the work, after every little change of light bulbs, etc., they still use more energy than they did when they started. This is discouraging. Still, it is a situation that is repeated in company after company where we are all dependent on chasing the chimera of perpetual growth based on inexpensive energy.

Auden ends up asking the question of whether it is possible to talk about climate without talking about God. Now I know that religion is not a topic most Greens enjoy talking about. There are too many instances where the institutions of religion has become more important than the experience of religion, to the detriment of all. Then, there are the Marxist Greens who see Religion as an enemy to be attacked. Yet, we share common interests with many and should be working together. With Climate Change taking us ever closer to massive catastrophe, should we not be asking "What would Noah do?"

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