We Make Radical Media

Becky Hogge, formerly of the Open Rights Group (“Join up and protect your bits”), was asked at the Rebellious Media Conference – how could this conference have been any more rebellious ?

With much gravitas she explained how a public relations firm had made legal threats to prevent the conference calling itself the “Radical Media Conference”.

She explained that she thought it was a little unrebellious to cave in and change the name of the conference to suit an advertising agency, particularly since the words are normal language to describe the alternative press. She then leaned closer to the microphone to pronounce with verve that “We own that term, thank you very much !”

It got me thinking about the ownership of terminology, and also the ownership of concepts, such as “climate change”. Back in the decade of the (cough), climate change was merely scientific terminology, used to describe the changing configurations of climate (surprised ?), as observed by painstaking, lifelong observations of physical phenomena in the natural world.

A science as old as the Jewish and Christian early scriptures, and possibly even before, folk wisdom about seasonal alterations, and more gradual alterations of general climatic conditions, were part of agricultural education, and catastrophic changes were recorded encoded in great tales and parables. One of the worst curses in the Bible is the destruction of land and waterways, destruction permitted in response to the unfaithfulness of God’s people. “Choose life” was the exhortation of the Prophet Moses. But this was a spiritual insight into Earth’s changing face, not a measurable one.

And then in the last couple of centuries, evidence-based, falsifiable theorem-based science has gained ascendance, and the proposition that the burning of fossil fuels would increase the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, which would enhance the greenhouse effect of trapped radiation, and cause discernible global warming, has now been accurately monitored, and proven beyond reasonable doubt. The need to show the effects on the ecosystems of this added heat at Earth’s surface and near-surface atmosphere has spawned, fathered and mothered the most astonishing and wide-ranging mountain of research, and resulted in documented evidence of climate change which can be directly attributed to global warming.

Now it is time for climate change to stop being a term that is owned by science, defined by strict research criteria. Now is the time for people to own climate change, to have their own ways of describing the effects it is having on their lives, on their communities, on their habitats. Now is the time for more media on climate change – more than ever before. We are no longer communicating the science to the people. Now we are faced with the need to communicate climate change to the owners of energy production systems – as they need to know they need to adapt their business models or fade away. And we need to communicate what real people are really suffering, as a result of real climate change, to our democratically elected leaders, so easily swayed by private profit-making interests. We, the people, need to explain to our governments that climate change needs an effective response – a mix of energy conservation and non-risky low carbon energy technologies. We need to use our international contacts to gather narratives on the effects of serious and damaging climate change already being experienced. We need the international correspondents of the media establishments to report on the impacts of excessive drought, rainfall, flooding, crop destruction, coastal erosion, storms, sandstorms, mudslides, saltwater encroachment, and the loss of forest and drinking water.

Meanwhile, in blissful ignorance, the Conservative Party, part of the Coalition Government in Great Britain, is sliding from grace on climate change. It’s time to start talking back :-

http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2011/oct/06/david-cameron-green-agenda-fades

Apparently, George Osborne has “pulled back from the ‘green abyss'” :-

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/debate/article-2046961/Climate-change-zealots-wrecking-industry-Britain-possesses.html

Of course, a Green New Deal would create maybe hundreds of thousands of jobs in energy conservation and renewable energy installation, saving the country megabucks in terms of fossil fuel imports, and creating assets for the future. It won’t create the couple of hundred jobs promised by the nuclear power industry in their bid for an atomic energy “renaissance”, but then, it won’t be as expensive as the carbon price floor and other incentives to the current producers of low carbon electricity, such as nuclear power companies. But when has Chancellor George Osborne ever been competent about economics ? This is a genuine question – not a matter of rhetoric – I am genuinely asking for answers.

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