Answer the Call

July 23, 2010

I got up from a brief nap to answer the phone yesterday, and

was greeted by a young man who said

“Your Senator Carl Levin is about to vote on a new tax on our energy supplies, that will cost Americans billions of dollars.  We’re asking people if they are in favor of this new tax on energy.”

I said, “Well, yes, I am very much in favor of this bill. And what you are doing is wrong.”

Pause.

“So you think I’m wrong?”

“Well, yeah.

We’ve been addicted to fossil fuels for a century, we’ve got climate change, oil billowing out of the Gulf of Mexico, people dying in the middle east to fight over the last few drops of oil, and we need desperately to break this cycle and get off fossil fuels.

What you’re doing is urging people to continue the oil companies agenda of war after war, pollution and climate change, and I think that’s bad for America, for the planet and for our children.”

He said, “You know sir, you may have a point.”

Pause.

“You think, maybe I shouldn’t be doin’ this job?”

“Look man, every body needs to do what they have to do to get by, if you need the job, do it.”

He said, “I wonder if a job is really that important.?”

“Well, everyone’s got to figure that out for themselves.”

“Well, thank you sir, you may have just answered that for me.”

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A lot of people still believe global warming is something Al Gore cooked up in 2006 to promote his movie.  The thousands of expert climate scientists whose work forms the consensus have no celebrity, no street cred with the average person. But for a lot of people, the archetypes of scientific expertise, are more popular media figures like Stephen Hawking and Carl Sagan.
This came home to me once again, when I came across a recent posting on Yahoo Answers.

“I watched a Carl Sagan doc yesterday, where the late Mr Sagan was talking about Venus and runaway greenhouse effects. Also global warming. There seems to be a lot of recent debate over whether Global warming exists, (or that there’s evidence to support claims). Why was someone as well researched and genuine as carl sagan so convinced? Im very confused.”

As part of my effort to create postings that will appeal to diverse learning styles and ways of reasoning – I offer this to, once again, make clear again how wide and deep the consensus on this issue is.

Drowning in Oil

July 22, 2010

This links to a stunning series of photos of a recent oil spill in China.  Go take a look. I’ll wait.

The spill was tiny compared to our own Gulf of Mexico disaster, but underscores how this phenomenon has been going on in the third world with horrifying frequency, ignored by most of the media until our recent experience sensitized us to what is happening.

A spate of recent stories has picked up on the meme, like this one from the New York Times.

And there’s this.

A recent, long form lecture by Stephen Schneider that is a good primer for beginners as well as a welcome review for climate buffs.  Pay attention to how big complex ideas are communicated in simple sentences and images.

We lost Stephen Schneider today.  More later.

Monday Music Break

July 19, 2010

Gold, Guns, Girls – by Metric

We can’t fight the good fight without good music.

I’m going to start adding some to this blog. I’m open to suggestions. This first one came from Kimberley Thee, who hosted the short lived “Climate TV” interview series that I participated in this past spring. Kim is now working on a new project at http://www.socialcyclone.org/, which uses the track above as part of the background music. Looks like something worth watching….

The Mind of the Denier

July 13, 2010

Former White House attorney John Dean discusses research on the authoritarian mind, and in doing so, sheds light on the impenetrable, hermetically sealed logic loop that is climate denialism.

It happens that I came across another piece tonight from the Boston Globe, How Facts Backfire, that also discusses how science uncovers disquieting truths about democracy, media, and the mind.

“In the end, truth will out. Won’t it?

Maybe not. Recently, a few political scientists have begun to discover a human tendency deeply discouraging to anyone with faith in the power of information. It’s this: Facts don’t necessarily have the power to change our minds. “