What is it with the minds of liberals/progressives/Democrats that they repeatedly fall victim to the idea of, “Ignore your opponents and they will go away?” It’s a systemic problem.

Dan Lashof of NRDC rightfully concedes on NPR that the “ignore them and they will go away” strategy did not work. It’s a shame that it took Climategate to bring about this realization.


Communicative ineptitude. I think that’s going to be the lasting assessment of the climate movement for the past decade.

By the term “climate movement” I mean the combined efforts of the climate science and climate activism groups. The scientists didn’t know how to communicate their message of looming climate disaster, so in 2005 the activists took over. The net result is this year’s complete meltdown (what a fitting term) of the entire climate movement.

I no longer have to make the criticisms myself. I can just point to others. Journalist Fred Pearce aptly summarized the bungled response to Climategate in his article titled, “Anatomy of a Public Relations Disaster.” Now Dan Lashof of NRDC concedes on NPR yesterday what is true about the failed strategy of “ignore them and they will go away” with the following:

“We in the scientific community by and large said OK, the science debate is over, we are moving our efforts into what we are going to do about it. And that left the science debate in the public largely untended,” he says. “That has been recognized as a strategic error.”

He’s saying the condensed version of what I talked about last Thursday (which yielded a rather lengthy discussion on Judith Curry’s blog).


None of this means that it’s a time for recriminations or focusing on blame. But on the other hand, if your attitude of “let’s not point fingers of blame” becomes so inhibiting that you’re not even willing to examine the past, then you’re just compounding the problems. As SOMEBODY once said (it’s debatable whether it was George Santyana or not), “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

It’s good that Lashof (and others) are willing to make such honest and accurate pronouncements. The “ignore them” strategy did not work, any more than it did for John Kerry or Michael Dukakis. The only important question now is which strategy could work?

That is a question without any clear, obvious, and immediate answer. So what do you do when you have no answers to an important problem? Very simple. You INNOVATE. You TAKE CHANCES. You EXPERIMENT. You light small brush fires. You plant seeds. You throw spaghetti against the wall. You take a shot on formerly “crazy ideas.”

Here’s to hoping someone out there is interested in taking more chances with mass communication. Gore did. He wasn’t perfect, but a lot was learned. You just need to keep the learning process going.