Climate Change Needs to Get FUD Up

Scientific Climate Change DiagramMaybe it’s just me, but climate change isn’t very scary.

The scientific community has done a tremendous job of documenting and proving that our world is undergoing change as a result of human activities.

They leave little room for doubt.

Unfortunately, they fail to make that actually matter to anyone other than the intellectual elite.

Likewise, pro-environment mouthpieces Greenpeace and the Sierra Club are great at spewing patronizing hippie-talk, but not so great at delivering a message that actually concerns the general population.

In the end, the climate change community’s proselytizing efforts are too heady, and lack heart.

Don’t these people realize that they have to deliver their messages to the very depths of our souls, not our brains?

Climate change needs a serious dose of FUD (that’s fear, uncertainty and doubt). Normally considered a relatively reprehensible communications technique, climate change may just be the single most qualified subject for FUD’s application.

FUD brings high-level concepts down to earth, and makes them matter to us as individuals, generally by scaring us to death.

FUD generates an emotional response by kicking us in our collective gut with information.

How do you think President Bush managed to trick the American populace into supporting his War of Terror?

That’s right: FUD.

It’s time the climate change movement got seriously FUDed up.

The most obvious opportunity lies in the globally ongoing series of freakish weather events: flooding, high winds, changing temperatures, and major shifts in regional precipitation and drought.

These are all patterns that climate change scientists have been warning of for years. Yet that same community is failing to stand up and proudly proclaim: “See? I told you so!”

The media is reporting on climate change events such as Hurricane Katrina, extreme flooding in the UK, and icy weather in Australia.

But the media is failing to draw a clear line back to the source of these events (human activity) because the scientific community is not actively promoting this link.

Do they expect us to figure it all out ourselves?

Earth to scientists: hire yourselves a public relations firm. Begin marketing your work, start exercising your right to FUD, and make your research mean something to us on a personal level.

Blame us for our actions.

Like, hey you, with the idling SUV in the SuperStore parking lot: it’s your fault that the southern lakes in the Yukon are flooding.

You, Hummer-driver, you’re to blame for Hurricane Katrina.

And, you lazy bastard over there who drove your car just two blocks just to get your kid to day care, it’s your fault this summer is so cold.

Oops, that was me, actually.

Sorry for screwing up the season, everyone.

The lofty concepts of climate change need to be drawn down to the base mental level of us rabble.

A fear of climate change must be implanted in our collective belly right here, just beside the spot that inexplicably makes us crave something as nasty as Coca-Cola.

Make us think twice about driving to work by building an overwhelming sense of guilt in our souls.

Make climate change a brand of fear, and make me want it more than I want my car.

Because right now, clearly, nobody really gives a crap about the environment.

Trendy cloth shopping bags aside, the earth can gasp its last breath in a cloud of carcinogenic bio-diesel for all we seem to care.

I mean, there are countless old beaters running around Whitehorse spewing black oil smoke and sporting that ridiculous “Save ANWR” bumper sticker.

It’s irony on wheels.

(Whose daft idea was it, anyway, to try and save a natural resource by sponsoring advertising on the very instrument of its destruction?)

Your predictions are coming true, sage scientists.

The earth is suffering around us, just like you said it would.

But its pain is being represented in the public eye as little more than a series of inconveniences that occur seemingly inexplicably.

But there is an explanation: it’s just trapped in all those lengthy, incomprehensible research reports you’ve generated.

Set that data free, and give it teeth.

Treat us like the ignorant children we are and spell it out in black and white.

Evolve climate change from social issue to reality.

It’s here and now, it’s happening around us.

Make us realize that this isn’t happenstance: it’s our fault.

Like the wings of a butterfly, our drive to work this morning may just cause a tornado in Japan.

Scare us into walking.

Originally published in the Yukon News on Friday, August 3, 2007.

4 thoughts on “Climate Change Needs to Get FUD Up

  1. Wow, that’s passion. It makes me glad to be able to say that I biked to work today. (Even though I usually don’t…eep But it’s such a pain to get the kid from our house over to daycare and then over to work – three different neighbourhoods – and the bus isn’t a viable option)An article that you may find interesting; here’s what happens when the FUD trickles up to the politicians, and we could take some page out of the Parisian books…http://www.ohio.com/editorial/commentary/8793327.html

  2. Getting people worked-up about climate change is a really tough task, despite all the writing on the wall, in the skies, and on the ground. Problem is in how humans are programmed to react to events. We only react on the sudden realization that we’ve been caught off-guard, meaning that a modification in our own way to perceive things is necessary. Plus, we tend to blame others for our own misfortunes.Climate change doesn’t carry that “suddenness” factor, at least not for the time being, despite Katrina, and it’s more comforting to heed the naysayers than to take a second look at such things as overpopulation and the entire 2000+ year history of “progress”.That’s why I think that the basic FUD strategy ultimately falls short here. Instead, the realities of climate change need to be engrained into popular culture, and this can only be done in the long-term, however frustrating the idea is. A scientist who goes ballistic for a cause is just as likely to seen as a mad scientist as a visionnary, and even more so if you disagree with him/her.If you want to wake the world up, and do it right, I think that you have to be in it for the long haul, even if you’re sure that the clock is running out. You can never say enough about something that effects absolutely everything, so you just have to keep at it, telling yourself that it’s more like rain seeping into the groundwater than a spike transpiercing the heart. Just as it’s the most ridiculous lies that are the most difficult to contest (think racist arguments), the most evident truths are the most difficult to prove.I wrote a blog recently on the use of an Internet technology for the cause of your choice. In this case it’s frogans, because that’s what I blog about: http://www.froganeyes.org/?p=55

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