Feb 22 2008
In a recent post by Joseph Romm on Grist, he talks about why he called his book on the climate crisis Hell and High Water.
I love the book but think the more we crank up the doom-and-gloom, the easier it is for conservative spinmeisters to peg people concerned about this issue as just a bunch of Chicken Littles. There was a great article about this kind of negative stereotyping on Rockridge Nation a while back, which I discussed in an earlier post.
So why not take the preferred conservative euphemism and reappropriate it? I can actually have a complete conversation with almost anyone if the topic is “climate change.” But as soon as I mention “global warming,” the eyes glaze over, the disaster fatigue sets in, and that mind is closed to me and my message.
Calling it WORLD-HOT-DEATH-NOW! makes me feel good and gives vent to my moral outrage. But I’m convinced that if I choose to yell, I’m only talking to myself and to others who believe as I do. I am also pushing my conservative acquaintances deeper into their own bizarre counter-stories, such as (actual quote) “global warming is caused by SUV-driving environmentalists.”
There’s a large group of well-meaning, intelligent people, open to new ideas in other areas of their lives, who when it comes to the environment are afraid, don’t know what to do, and so do nothing. We need those people if we want to affect any kind of quick and lasting change. We can’t afford to have them drifting off in the middle of the conversation feeling burned out and drained of the will to act.
I think it’s possible to frame this topic in a more inclusive way without sacrificing any of the facts, impact, or urgency. How exactly to do that is a discussion for another day.