There are many tipping points

12 07 2007

After the rain 1 - by Tanakawho (creative commons)I normally enjoy visiting James’ place, and this day was no exception. However, this post of his had me scratching my chin. The post is from a while ago, and something about the snarky bored tone got me thinking.

I imagined him thinking to himself as he typed it up. “Why another film? Hasn’t Gore done the subject to death? Can we stop being sanctimonious already?”

But I think that misses the point. The movie isn’t for us, the people who care passionately about climate change and/or work in the field.

The movie is for ordinary people for whom “global warming” is either something to bravely deny (thus showing they ain’t no tree huggers, no siree) or bravely ignore (it’s the end of the Earth, I can’t change that, pass me the keys to the SUV).

I think about what happens when a new breakthrough occurs in science; you see a lot of activity in that same area, a lot of papers applying the new ideas with slightly different parameters. It’s pretty much the same in every academic endeavour. Knowledge proceeds in increments.

Why can’t we think of public awareness of climate change in the same way? The denialists (and the media, though unwittingly) have been complicit in this by reducing “global warming” into a meaningless catchphrase. It’s about time people saw what it really means, and if that means an explosion of docos all touting some different aspect of climate change, just so that ordinary people can see it’s a complex issue, then I’m all for that.

Photo: After the rain 1 by Tanakahwo (creative commons at Flickr.com)

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