The National Science Foundation is in a quandary, and has convened a Panel of Experts©®™ to consider the matter. (via Watts Up With That). My input, and yours for that matter, isn’t welcome; we, you see, are the problem.
The quandary is this: their message about
Global Warming Climate Change Climate Disruption The Falling Sky is increasingly falling on deaf ears, and Something Must Be Done. Like any other group of evangelists strong in the Faith, their immediate conclusion is that what we have here is Failyoor t’ C’municate, and they seek better techniques for Getting the Message Out. The report so far is amusing in an ironic sort of way, and will no doubt be useful in future, though not the way they expect. Having rejected the notion of going to Bob Jones University or the nearest Baptist seminary for advice, they are re-creating from scratch (and with a strong scientific basis!) the techniques developed ad hoc by Jones, Oral Roberts, and Aimee Semple MacPherson. Future evangelists will no doubt draw on it for further inspiration. In a way it’s too bad they’ve lost Al Gore to the Cause, because whether or not he can execute, he comes from a polity with a solid grounding in the fundamentals.
It’s Al, Brother Al, say Brother Al’s travelin’ Globe-Warmin’ Show
The newsie’ll see us, so load up the Prius, and everyone goes
‘Cause everyone knows
Brother Al’s shows
People who don’t know and understand how it goes, especially those who see themselves as disadvantaged by it, tend to have an utterly mistaken view of evangelists. They might see a conference of preachers as concerned with Perpetuating the Patriarchy or Keeping the N*s Down, but that is never the case. Whether or not any individual attendee has some other agenda, the discussions will be based on Getting the Message Out, and the philosophical basis will be pure altruism: Brothers and sisters, our friends and neighbors are going to Hell if we don’t convince them to cast out the Devil! We must find ways to tell them that so that they understand and come to the True Faith! There’s no doubt that the devotées of Global Warming feel the same way, as you will see from the report of their meeting.
However, just in case one might be paying a bit of attention —
First: You have schoolchildren the length and breadth of this country and Europe waking up screaming and coming sobbing to their parents to demand that they save the polar bears; you have millions of city dwellers lobbying for destruction of the energy sources that keep them alive; you have very nearly the entire Governments of the United States and the European
Concert Union acting with the common goal of getting rid of anything and everything that might make normal people’s lives easy and comfortable in the Holy Name of Climate Change. It is hard to see how you might Get The Message Out more effectively! When the news about earthquakes and tsunamis in Japan arrived, some friends and I were partaking of recreational beverages; the talking-head breathlessly told us the news, and with one voice some half a dozen rednecks appended “…’cause of Global Warming!” If a gang of boot-wearing mechanics, welders, and horse-wranglers in a hick Texas town has the message down pat, there’s no obvious way for you to get much beyond that.
In fact, the problem may be that you’ve gotten the message out too effectively. No snow: Climate Change! Too much snow: Climate Disruption! If there’s anything at all that’s disruptive, unpleasant, irritating, or otherwise undesirable, from excessive flooding to one’s SO getting the clap, if it can’t be blamed on raaaaacism it’s all the fault of Global Warming, and there will be bespectacled Real Scientists nodding vigorously as the blow-dried pontificate on the subject. You might well be advised to lay low for a while and let the more ridiculous bits evaporate, meanwhile trying to coordinate a common message with a bit less overreach.
Second: We know damned well that you can’t cool it for a while, because we also know that you’re in the position of the monkey with the candy jar. Grants and contracts, and more important, ain’t it kewl to be on teevee and have people listen to you? Back off even a little, let a few candies fall in the hope of getting your fist out the narrow neck with something still in it, and the Faithful will call in the Alinsky Inquisition to trash you and your reputation, musing the while on the utility of stoning, the stocks, pyres, and the auto-da-fe. It’s just too much to risk.
We also know, from bitter experience, the ways and characteristics of the people who filled the candy jar in the first place. Beyond a few low-level toilers, they don’t Believe — if they did, they wouldn’t be spewing massive amounts of CO2 to attend Climate Conferences, and they wouldn’t be Solving the Carbon Problem by spreading gaseous mercury all over two continents. There is no greater irony at present than the EPA spending thirty years getting heavy metals out of the environment, then turning around and requiring every household to either keep significant amounts of mercury in fragile glass containers or live in the dark. What they want is to be In Charge, to be the one behind deep-tinted windows as the car sweeps past masses of adoring peasants; “Climate Disruption” is a club they think they can use to achieve that, and climate scientists are the handle of the club.
It doesn’t help that a lot of climate scientists expect to be themselves riding comfortably three or four cars back in the motorcade, and are willing to not only go along but lead the effort in that expectation. James Hansen’s NASA puff-piece says explicitly,
The hardest part is trying to influence the nature of the measurements obtained…
With friends like that, you don’t need “climate skeptics” for opposition, but you will get them. Your problem isn’t Getting the Message Out; it’s the content of the Message, and louder, cleverer, or more “public-oriented” ways of Getting it Out will just make things worse.