It’s official. I will no longer use the terms “global warming” or “climate change.” Instead I will use the terms “climate chaos” and “human accelerated warming.”
Joseph Romm leads a great discussion about how climate change can be discussed as a political issue:
We are engaged in a multi-year messaging struggle here. The planet is going to get hotter and hotter, the weather is going to get more extreme. One of the reasons to be clear and blunt in your messaging about this is that even if you don’t persuade people today, the overall message will grow in credibility as reality unfolds as we have warned. To shy away from telling people the truth because they don’t want to hear it or they think it’s liberal claptrap is just incredibly un-strategic. EcoAmerica doesn’t want people to talk about “global warming.” And — even worse — they don’t want people to talk about extreme weather, which, as I have previously argued, is in fact the same thing that the climate deniers want — see “Why do the deniers try to shout down any talk of a link between climate change and extreme weather?“ You must tell people what is coming, not just because it is strategic messaging, but also I believe because we have a moral responsibility.
About confronting a climate skeptic:
If you don’t know the climate science, then you probably shouldn’t talk about it. But frankly if you don’t know the science, you will be eaten alive by the informed conservative doubters in your audience, not to mention any professional deniers you might be debating or who might be on the same panel. A classic technique of rhetoric and debating is to go after your opponent on whatever they are weakest on. That’s why you need to know the science and how to explain it and defend it.
So if you are out there pushing gobbledygook, a savvy conservative a clever contrarian (or even a sharp reporter) will make you look like an uninformed fool. Remember the key line of the smarmy tobacco lobbyist in the must-see movie, Thank you for Smoking:
I don’t have to be right. I just have to prove you might be wrong.
So the deniers have the easier end of it on global warming messaging — they can throw out 100 lies and succeed if even one sticks. That’s no reason to walk away from the science. Quite the reverse.
In other posts, he cites a study about the irreversibility of C02 destruction:
the climate change that is taking place because of increases in carbon dioxide concentration is largely irreversible for 1,000 years after emissions stop…. Among illustrative irreversible impacts that should be expected if atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations increase from current levels near 385 parts per million by volume (ppmv) to a peak of 450-600 ppmv over the coming century are irreversible dry-season rainfall reductions in several regions comparable to those of the ”dust bowl” era and inexorable sea level rise.
(Here is a hair-raising summary of this study).
Here are results of a survey of leading climatologists:
Just 7% of the 261 experts surveyed (200 of whom were researchers in climate science or related fields) said they thought governments would succeed in restricting global warming to 2C. Nearly two-fifths thought this target was impossible and 46% thought a 3 to 4C rise by the end of the century was most likely.
A 3 or 4C rise might not sound much but the climatic shifts accompanying it would be massive. At 3C one to four billion extra people would face water shortages and 150 to 550 million more people would be at risk of hunger. With an extra degree of warming on top of that, seven million to 300 million would be put at risk of coastal flooding due to sea level rise.
A chart from 538 about what people fear about global warming:
Over the last week we witnessed mass hysteria about swine flu. Perhaps part of it was justified. At the same time, we have a deathly silence about slow long term catastrophes like human accelerated warming. One commenter made the point that because there are no corporate interests dedicated to keeping swine flu off the public’s radar, mass media can devote all sorts of coverage to it. Imagine if you will a concerted effort dedicated to proving that “swine flu doesn’t exist” or “if it does exist, it’s the result of other viruses” or ‘”the costs to fight swine flu would ruin the world’s economy” or “it’s one big socialist conspiracy to keep people from coughing on other people whenever they want.”
I am conflicted about blogging too much about global warming. First, I am by no means an expert on the subject. Second, Climate Progress has been doing an outstanding job on covering the issues. (It’s been my must-read news source every day, as well as Think Progress’s WonkRoom). Second, it takes away time from my own personal projects. I got before the computer with the intent to make some ebooks. And look where I am now.