“Look”, said my telephone correspondent, “lots of people with influence know, deep down, that Climategate is just political, not real. The spin doesn’t disprove the science.”
“I know,” I acquiesced, “but it is still important what the public thinks, and this series of minor scandals, some completely baseless, and blown out of all proportion, needs some kind of comeback.”
Warming to my theme, I burbled on, “We can’t leave it hanging in the air like this. You never know when you will next meet a disparaging sceptic, who belligerently, senselessly, obstructs the good you are doing. And this crowd could influence the next Government…”
“OK then”, caved my buddy on the line, “what do you propose ?”
“Give me 66.66 (recurring) young scientists with communication skills, each paid £15,000 for the year, and I will deliver for you a crack Public Relations team who will be on constant high alert, forming a Rapid Response Unit to counteract each and every one of these outrageous slurs in microseconds.”
“Oh dear”, despaired the voice at the other end of the crackling wires, “nobody has that kind of money to use on Media outreach.”
“Well ?”, I asked, “What are we going to do, then ? While people seem to be prepared to rustle up a shedload of cash for sceptical outfits like The Global Warming Policy Foundation, this kind of Climategate nuisance will keep coming back like a waking nightmare. Those working on the Science of Climate Change don’t get any staffing for Public Relations, but that’s so unhelpful. Everybody knows that the Science is hard to communicate and that Scientists are not normally Media-competent.”
The conversation was inconcluded.
So, there you are. The Scientists are up against a well-funded fountain of dirty propaganda that has besmirched even the greenest of newspapers. There’s no money in the pot to fight it off : no wonder the public don’t listen to the Science.
The Climategate fiasco is not about suspect Science; it’s about political arguments, and it has been fought in the Media realm. We have lost the Public Relations challenge because we have not allocated sufficient funds to communications.
Most Scientists who know about Climate Change in any great depth resort to strong warnings. They are accused of being “alarmist” by people who know next to nothing about the Science; and yet their audience accept this as a valid criticism of the Scientists.
Are people stupid ? Or merely ignorant ? All we, like sheep, have gone astray…People I would normally consider rational and intelligent and perceptive have been taken in by this Climategate narrative and become sceptical of 200 years of Science.
If that seems bizarre, then consider this : despite Climategate, nothing in the Science has changed. The world is not magically OK now. We’re still in the deepest of trouble. The risks are genuinely serious.
The stakes are high, but the public don’t know it.
You would have thought that when the general population became more aware of what the Science suggests may happen in the near future, they would have started to react, politically, demanding change and progress.
But at every step along the way, doubt has been manufactured by politically motivated self-serving deniers, served and then swallowed by the people, who have become completely passive.
What’s in it for the public influential deniers ? They get to keep the value of their mining company interests. They retain high investment returns from Fossil Fuel production.
What’s in it for the followers of the public Climate Change deniers ? They think they are somehow protecting their political narrative, defending liberty, freedom, freedom of speech, protection from Big Government, free trade, wealth, prosperity.
What would happen if ordinary Climate Change sceptics were to be convinced that their future prosperity is at stake from Global Warming, as social and industrial infrastructure collapses under bouts of extreme weather, poor crop harvests and rising sea levels ?
What if common or garden Climate Change deniers were to learn that the values of their shares in Fossil Fuels and other mining operations can go seriously downhill as Carbon accounting takes hold and “peak demand” comes into play ?
The Science is hard to communicate, but the monetary ramifications are not so hard to explain.
Climate Change is going to make your poor, my friends, and it’s not because somebody is going to put a price on Carbon. The price of crude oil could remain at around $80 a barrel and not get much higher. There will be a very strong economic signal to keep it from getting too high permanently, even with Carbon pricing.
The problem with Climate Change is not Carbon pricing. It’s what happens to everything else that poses the problems. We had better stop the rot before it gets any worse. Down with Global Warming !