Tag Archives: nature

“Coal. Guns. Freedom”: Facts Fail Climate Comms

Bored.

Facts alone are failing in the war on climate change communication. Instead, to truly engage, we need to share experience. Without the privilege of person-person contact, this can still be achieved remotely by inspiring others through art, to create their own experiences.

Understanding arising from experience is far more powerful than factual knowledge alone. This has been known for aeons and yet we are still failing to connect people to their environment in a way that persuades them to protect, rather than destroy, something that they are part of.

The Problem

Yesterday’s US mid-term elections are a prime example of the conservation movement’s failure “to move” the voter. To quote Brad Plumber at Vox:

Republican Mitch McConnell's re-election slogan. And it worked...

Republican Mitch McConnell’s re-election slogan. And it worked…

You had billionaire Tom Steyer spending $67 million trying to convince voters to care about global warming. You had the League of Conservation Voters pouring in another $25 million, more than in the previous two elections combined. All the while, some outlets were suggesting that recent natural disasters — from Hurricane Sandy two years ago to the ongoing drought in the West — just might push climate issues to the fore”.

Yet despite these efforts – based on pushing facts and reason – Republicans won control of the Senate by a ‘slam dunk’. The now Republican Majority leader of the Senate, Mitch McConnell, was re-elected on the back of the campaign motto “Coal. Guns. Freedom”. Recent polls show that only 36% of Republicans consider the environment an important issues, compared to 69% Democrats.

This is just days after Europe’s leaders compromised heavily on Climate Targets for 2030. While Angela Merkel was pushing for higher energy efficiency and emissions reduction targets, eastern European countries and the UK negotiated downwards. (See end results here).  The eastern countries’ unfounded fear of limiting potential economic growth is understandable, but the UK’s goading by UKIP is not. The fact that the UK government is being pushed around by a minority party on the right, who has less democratic representation than any party (including the Greens) on the left, shows a failure of imagination in communication. Arguably, this is the failure of everyone who believes in more social equality – but the environmental lobby can’t escape unscathed.

Bored Board by NaBHaN

Bored Board by NaBHaN

The facts that we’re pushing just aren’t being taken on board by a bored audience.

The Answer
Help is at hand from ancient wisdom – wisdom stretching from China dating over two millennia ago, to the surprising sagacity of Hollywood today:

  • “What I hear, I forget. What I see, I remember. What I do, I understand.”
    Xunzi, Chinese Confucian Philosopher, 340-245 BC.
  • The only kind of learning which significantly influences behavior is self-discovered or self-appropriated learning – truth that has been assimilated in experience. – Carl Rogers, American Psychologist, 1902-1987 AD.
  • Fictional Psychologist Sean Maguire, Good Will Hunting, 1998.

But how to share experience?

marietaoslanec.com

marietaoslanec.com

Unfortunately, environmentalists can’t physically connect everyone to their outside world. We can’t stage other peoples’ journeys of discovery, helping them realise how our interconnected nature means that their actions are affect all of life, and how they can positively affect others by making some different choices.

We don’t have enough time, power, nor moral right, to directly force everyone to this understanding directly.

Tannenwald

I know where I’d like to be! Tannenwald (c) Gustav Klimt

But as human beings, we do have the unique ability to inspire. While a small number of species outside H. Sapiens may demonstrate culture, none have been able to express themselves as complexly as we have. Art, in all its forms is an expression of humanity and helps individuals share experiences through a remote medium.


While we seem to be unique in our ability to destroy, the human race is unique in its ability to create and imagine.

My argument is that environmental communicators now need to harness this power. Artists have always been inspired by nature, as have scientists. We now need to bring these two groups together to inspire others in the truth that surrounds them.

Link

Skyscape from the Indian Ocean

Skyscape from the Indian Ocean

Skyscape, Indian Ocean

A view of the sky at sunset, from a pole and line fishing vessel, anchored in the middle of a Maldivian atoll.

August 2013.

Listening & Emotion: A Better Way to Connect?

As part of the Conservation/Sustainability movement, I’m a bit tired of the way in which “we explain” to people why they should care about their environment.

I would like to start asking people why they value their environment. And I may be wrong, but I don’t think the answer will be ecosystem goods and services. 

I think many people may have much more of an emotional connection than we currently give credence. Nature gives us a sense of perspective, inspires awe, wonder and delights us aesthetically. Perhaps this is the most powerful way we can connect with one another about nature?

Walk in the Woods (c) danielkearney.blogspot.com -

Walk in the Woods (c) danielkearney.blogspot.com –

After all, we’re happy to join together in serving gods who give us emotional solace,  yet we currently seem only able to talk about how nature can serve us. 

Family Values Truism

There are over 7 billion of us in this crowded world of ours, speaking almost 7000 languages in approximately 200 countries.

Yet one thing we all hold in common is the value we place on our children.

Most people would agree that their family trumps all other concerns in our multi-cultural, complex and changing world.

Image

Shutes on Lundy Island

Protecting our family is one of life’s missions.

And perhaps protecting our environment is similarly important.

After all, if we don’t protect our environment – where will our children grow up?

The World Is Too Much With Us by William Wordsworth

The world is too much with us; late and soon, 
Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers:
Little we see in Nature that is ours;
We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!
This Sea that bares her bosom to the moon;
The winds that will be howling at all hours, 
And are up-gather’d now like sleeping flowers;
For this, for everything, we are out of tune;
It moves us not. – Great God! I’d rather be
A Pagan suckled in a creed outworn;
So might I, standing on this pleasant lea, 
Have glimpses that would make me less forlorn;
Have sight of Proteus rising from the sea;
Or hear old Triton blow his wreathed horn.

 – William Wordsworth

Views on climate change not affected by economy

Image

This Guardian/ICM poll shows people’s attitudes to climate change and Rio+20.

Perceptions about the reality of climate change have changed little, despite the downfall in the economy. This is shown by a comparison of this poll with one conducted in 2009 (just before the Copenhagen Climate Conference). In 2009, 56% of respondents believed that climate change was real & man made; in 2012, this figure was 57%.

For full information – check the link here

Inexpensive Progress

My Dad has just mentioned this on his seventieth birthday-brilliant stuff by John Betjeman:

Inexpensive Progress

Encase your legs in nylons,
Bestride your hills with pylons
O age without a soul;
Away with gentle willows
And all the elmy billows
That through your valleys roll.

Let’s say goodbye to hedges
And roads with grassy edges
And winding country lanes;
Let all things travel faster
Where motor car is master
Till only Speed remains.

Destroy the ancient inn-signs
But strew the roads with tin signs
‘Keep Left,’ ‘M4,’ ‘Keep Out!’
Command, instruction, warning,
Repetitive adorning
The rockeried roundabout;

For every raw obscenity
Must have its small ‘amenity,’
Its patch of shaven green,
And hoardings look a wonder
In banks of floribunda
With floodlights in between.

Leave no old village standing
Which could provide a landing
For aeroplanes to roar,
But spare such cheap defacements
As huts with shattered casements
Unlived-in since the war.

Let no provincial High Street
Which might be your or my street
Look as it used to do,
But let the chain stores place here
Their miles of black glass facia
And traffic thunder through.

And if there is some scenery,
Some unpretentious greenery,
Surviving anywhere,
It does not need protecting
For soon we’ll be erecting
A Power Station there.

When all our roads are lighted
By concrete monsters sited
Like gallows overhead,
Bathed in the yellow vomit
Each monster belches from it,
We’ll know that we are dead.

From “High and Low” (1966) & “Collected Poems”

© The Estate of John Betjeman