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.