Dear Amanda Porter.
In my 3rd posting I discussed some cases of ‘overwhelming evidence’of the ‘problem’of climate change. They did not convert my denialist brain. I will now discuss the risk that communicators want to convince me of. Your Nottingham Sociology group ‘Talking Climate‘.org wants to scare me effectively with the right ‘communication strategy’.
We all should be afraid about ‘climate change’ and it’s ‘overwhelming evidence’, this is ‘critical’. This happens after a communication specialist has found out how to press the right button in our denialist brains.
Now if evidence of your problem is so ‘overwhelming’, than why does it need marketing specialists to convince us in the first place?
Would the world population stop eating food, if there where no Burger King commercials to convince us eating Double Whoppers? Or is everyone convinced of the need for food without ‘communication’? Let us notice that there are no campaigns needed to convince us of the existence of ‘gravity’. You cannot ‘see’ it directly, just like ‘the climate’. But jump from a roof, and you will easily be convinced of some risks associated with this natural phenomenon.
The risk of not having money, does not get unnoticed by most people either. There’s overwhelming evidence that not having money is to the detriment of your daily life and social mobility. So most people avoid this risk by a thing called ‘work’. Also the risk of not having food, does not get unnoticed without our daily portion of ‘communication’ with ‘overwhelming evidence’.
Now an appeal to your conscience.
Didn’t we get enough of this ‘communication’ with ‘overwhelming evidence’ already, with ‘climate change’? I have never heard of any ‘great world problem’ that needed so much mass media attention in the last 25 years to be recognised as a risk for ordinary people’s daily lives.
I am fine here and healthy while climapocalyps seems to be happening: aren’t you? This bare fact alone is sufficient to ask of some modesty on your side about ‘overwhelming evidence’ of the severity of your problem, and it’s associated risks to our lives. They are hypothetical.
No civilian has ever experienced ‘average world temperature’.
People live and procreate succesfully from Sahara to North Pole. If one factor is ‘critical’for their lives, average world temperature seems not. The greatest ‘risk’of climate change is that relatively small fluctuations in a hypothetic ‘world temperature’ get by unnoticed on a daily or even yearly basis. This is a risk for anyone desperately trying to keep it on the agenda. Your postdoc-position is an illustration of my point: academics like you are needed te prevent ‘the great problem of climate change’ to vanish from our radar.
Even after 25 years of scaring us through mass media. So apparantly your problem – 0,8 degrees Celsius less cold in the world since 1850 – needs a lot of marketing and hyperboles to get noticed, like ‘overwhelming’ and ‘critical’. As if the people ‘communicating the problem’- depend in their daily lives on ‘climate change’ to be a problem. This would be a risk for you, if it was not: your job would not exist, you run risk of not having money. Now then you have sufficient reason to start worrying.
Climate Change is mainly about Risk Perception
My point is, that the 100’s of square miles of newspaperpages devoted to ‘climate change’ in the last decade are mainly not caused by the about 0,8 degrees Celcius of warming since 1850. Of which about half could/could not be ascribed to human influences, both CO2, land use changes, etc. Also the journalists would not have noticed any pain from or fear of ‘climate change’, unless some expert told them to. So then what is it about?
The public debate is primarily a value laden debate centred around questions of risk perception: where environmental changes are presented as risk per sé to be prevented as all cost. (pe Douglas &Wildavsky 1983, but see also climate-alarmist Hulme 2009 for a modern ‘climate’revision of earlier arguments). The value-laden starting point of your Nutterham research group claiming it is ‘critical’ to convince people like me, because of ‘overwhelming evidence’(of what?), assumes that high risk perception should be the norm for all of us with ‘climate change’.
So ‘climate change’ as a ‘critical’problem might also not be about future warming itself, but hypothetical risks projected in the expert’s realm. So let us seek common ground, to see what problem ‘the experts’ talk about. Let us both assume the IPCC gives the right range of predictions om projected temperature, and use this as a starting point.
No change comes with benefits only. But, until now there are mostly benefits of warming and more CO2, as in agriculture and forestry. And it is likely that –within moderate IPCC-estimates of 2/3 degrees of warming with double CO2- benefits will outweigh negative impacts.
So if ‘climate change’is just one of many risks in a human life, and might be less urgent then ‘not having money’. Then logically follows that ‘the cure’proposed – narrowed down to CO2-mitigation at all cost – might be more risky for a human life than having the courage to do nothing for the sake of ‘climate only’. I mean, why should ‘the climate’ precisely be retro-engineered to a state of 150 years ago? Instead of being a little less cold and thus more comfortable: if you have not noticed this absurdity, I forgive you for your naivity.
Many therefore instead focus on adaptation and common sense policies. Such as not wasting fossil fuels or replacing coal for natural gas, or as in the Hartwell-paper a combination of energy research, smart taxation and investment. Again, this is not a unique position caused by ‘denier-disorder’ or ‘Not-believing-Expertitis’. It is defensible by informed reason and observation.