There’s widespread agreement that the communication of climate change issues to the general public has not gone well. In fact, the entire climate movement was declared a failure last summer as the final extant piece of climate legislation flamed out. The problem is the baseline has been shifted on environmentalism in general. It was once a movement characterized by COOPERATION. Today it is based on COMPETITION. I would speak out against Matt Nisbet’s recent “Climate Shift,” report if I thought the conclusions sounded way off the mark. They don’t.

“Let’s not bicker over who over-spent whom.” It’s a movement with poor leadership — whadya expect.

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This is my idea of a well-made documentary.

A REALLY WELL MADE FILM. The quote on the poster of “Enormously Entertaining!” is hype. I wouldn’t say that. I’d just say it is extremely well-made — so much that it didn’t need to be enormously entertaining.

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#126) The Nerd Loopty-doo

April 18th, 2011

How would you expect academics to respond to the suggestion to be less academic?


Last week Andy Revkin posted this Skype interview with me on his NY Times blog Dot Earth.


Andy Revkin further explored my “Nerd Loop” essay which spawned a whole bunch of blog discussions from Keith Kloor’s communications oriented discussion titled, “The Painful Truth,” to the climate skeptic blog, Climate Audit, where their title is, “The Smug Loop.” It’s funny how many of the comments equate the idea of improving communication with “propaganda.” You’d think they would be supportive of any efforts (on either side) to make the subject less boring to the general public. One thing is clear, polls show a declining interest in climate lately.

Talk about lighting a fire. Take a look at the video the Norwegian students in our January workshop have produced.


Mission Totally Accomplished!


In January I spent twelve jet lagged/flu virus-clouded days in Tromso, Norway running one of my three-day intensive videomaking workshops. It was the best one ever. We viewed the final cuts of the videos on my last full day there. I left the next morning, then the following night the students showed them to an audience of several hundred at the closing night festivities of the Arctic Frontiers Conference.

What ensued was an avalanche of super-psyched emails as the students decided they wanted to keep the vibe going. They got the university to give them some funds to make a video to promote their graduate program. They sent me a few drafts of the script. I gave some input. And here it is. And it ROCKS!

THIS is the kind of science filmmaking I’m talking about. Way to go Norwegians! You’ve made me proud of my heritage (my paternal grandfather emigrated to the U.S. from somewhere around Oslo).

Mass communication is not a science. How many times do I have to say this? The more you think it is — or even let yourself talk about the science side of it without allocating EQUAL energy to the art side of it, the more you are doomed to take it deeper into the hole of boredom and irrelevance. Such is the state of climate science communication by the large science and environmental organizations who have bought into the magic bullet of metrics and messaging.

AND FURTHERMORE … eh, hem (a colleague at NASA just pointed this out to me) … look at this quote: “Recent advances in behavioral and decision science also tell us that emotion is an integral part of our thinking, perceptions, and behavior, and can be essential for making well-judged decisions.”

“RECENT ADVANCES”??? Social scientists think this is some sort of recent breakthrough — that humans are not robots? The quote comes from a paper in the first volume of the new Nature Climate journal. As my colleague said, “What rock did these guys crawl out from under? Give me a break all you social scientists and quit living up to your stereotype.”


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