November 1st, 2011
I’ll be giving a talk about the climate movement that will probably not win me any friends
The World Wildlife Fund turns 50 this year which they are celebrating with a symposium on conservation science. They’ve made the potentially embarrassing decision to invite me to speak about communicating environmental issues and I’ve decided to focus on climate. Yeeks!
DUDE, WHERE’S MY CLIMATE MOVEMENT?
In 2004 the World Wildlife Fund sponsored a star-studded event that I put together at Raleigh Studios which we called simply Hollywood Ocean Night. It was a tremendous evening featuring celebrities in the audience including Dustin Hoffman and Ben Stiller (they were in the middle of shooting “Meet the Fockers“). There were just two speakers for the evening — the extremely charismatic pair of Dr. Jeremy Jackson (my Shifting Baselines co-founder who had also become a board member for WWF) and Dr. Daniel Pauly who is pretty much the greatest fisheries biologist alive today. Together they charmed and seduced the crowd with two short talks then a panel discussion during which Ben Stiller painfully asked whether we really need to give up eating shrimp (the simple answer 7 years later is nope, everybody’s plundering the oceans these days so don’t worry about it).
The talks were followed by a sustainable seafood reception. We also debuted 4 short films I wrote and directed with the Groundlings Improv Comedy Theater including the popular “No Seafood Grille 2050” (starring Wendi McLendon-Covey of “Reno 911!” and Mitch Silpa of my movie, “Sizzle“) and the “Senate Hearing on Coral Bleaching” (starring current comedy superstar Melissa McCarthy and her and “Bridesmaids” co-star, husband Ben Falcone) It was great night which was captured in this 5 minute video.
One of the most amazing and memorable aspects of the evening was that it turned out to be a living demonstration of the 4th chapter of my book, “Don’t Be So Unlikeable.” People ALWAYS bitch about “you can’t hit the audience with gloom and doom.” WRONG again. Jeremy and Daniel that night presented NOTHING but bad news, gloomy and doomy as possible. BUT … they delivered it with so much style, wit, humor, friendliness and we wrapped it all in an elegant package that EVERYONE thoroughly enjoyed themselves. I remember talking to people at the end as they were leaving, all with big smiles as they raved about what a great event it was. And even asked a few, “do you realize the entire event was nothing but bad news?” They just said, “yeah, what a bummer, it’s given me a lot to think about,” then left with smiles. That’s how you do it. Package the bad news in a likeable package and people won’t mind listening to it at all. (as opposed to having some overbearing Debbie Downer browbeating the audience about what “you people” have done).
CAREFUL WHAT YOU DIDN’T WISH FOR
So now they’ve asked me to speak at their big 50th Anniversary celebration on Nov. 17 which will be held at National Geographic’s headquarters. It’s open to the public, but you need to make an RSVP. And as for what I’ll be talking about … well, just look at my title — the schedule is here.