Archive for the ‘center for american progress’ Tag
As Chris and many, many others have mentioned, Joe Romm is perhaps the most effective climate blogger out there. Or as Rolling Stone says, the “fiercest”. He’s just released a new book, “Straight Up: America’s Fiercest Climate Blogger Takes on the Status Quo Media, Politicians, and Clean Energy Solutions” and is discussing his experiences that led to the book at Center for American Progress HQ.
Romm never naturally saw himself as a blogger. His dad worked at a newspaper, and he thought journalism simply wasn’t for him. He was a scientist, and focused on making the empirical case for action to stop climate change. He never even realized, however, how big a deal it was until the consensus started building among fellow scientists.
And that’s probably why I like him so much. He’s an empiricist in red alert mode, much like myself. And his insights about the failure of the old media establishment to dig down to the substance of the climate crisis are spot on, frankly not just with this issue but most others as well. The horse race, he-said-she-said dynamic just doesn’t work to get people the facts they need. With messaging gurus carefully crafting messages catering to those who wish to continue the status quo , “fair and balanced” simply cannot do justice to a very complicated issue. Romm believes his blog is different, because he can present real solutions without having to worry about presenting quotes from people he believes are full of it. He also tends to beat the media to stories, even hammering at a point until it shows up in mainstream coverage, and that’s his greatest satisfaction about being a blogger. I’ve gotta agree with him there, which is why I get most of my news from new media sources these days. As Kos and friends always say, it’s like getting the newspaper a week early.
The other major point that fascinated me was his repeated refrain that the climate scientists just aren’t well versed enough in messaging to combat the constant industry and right-wing disinformation campaign to vilify climate science. Scientists, of course, are terrible at messaging, practically by definition. Their natural inclination is to not report a conclusion until it’s 100% certain, and even then caveats must be recognized. That is a very valuable viewpoint to have, but it is decidedly poor in producing useful sound bytes that accurately capture the substance of the scientist’s conclusions. Then, when scientists are dead sure of something and actually very alarmed about it, their natural response is to repeat their point over and over again in the hopes that it’ll break through. Problem is, in the era of the spin doctor people will simply tune that message out unless it’s framed in a more accessible manner. So a new strategy is needed. In other words, they need a Media Matters style campaign to directly fight back.
At the same time, Romm also believes the move away from direct discussion of climate change and onto peripheral foci (“clean energy jobs”, “energy independence”, etc.) has had a detrimental effect on the push to actually do something about global warming. It’s made the substance of climate mitigation efforts reasonably popular, but the direction away from scientific reality has ceded too much ground to the smear merchants poking holes in the core of climate consensus.
Other notable insights:
- The lack of significant progress in tackling global warming to date affects public opinion. When people hear that a problem exists but nothing happens to solve it, they tend to grow skeptical.
- The Kerry-Graham-Lieberman bill will disappoint many progressives. The Senate faces the same issue it did with health care: how do you get to 60 without losing the left flank? It will be tough, and no guarantee that it can happen, but it’s not impossible.
- At the same time, K-G-L probably not by itself be enough to fix global warming. But we saw the same thing with the ozone layer. The initial Montreal Protocol in 1987 wouldn’t have been enough either, but it was strengthened later as the forecasts became more dire, and we managed to save the ozone layer in the nick of time. This is a very similar situation, and we have to start acting now if we are to eventually get to a workable solution.
- The old-school environmental movement has made a great mistake in their focus, ignoring their own past accomplishments to make the air and water cleaner in very direct ways.
- Earth Day is also the entirely wrong focus. It’s downright silly to think we can or need to save the Earth. In fact, the planet will be just fine without us. We should be much more concerned about saving the people, which is really the point of stopping catastrophic climate change. (this is a point I very strongly agree with)
- So what does catastrophic climate change look like? If we don’t drastically cut our emissions within the next half-century or so, we could see an ice-free world in a couple centuries, which would lead to roughly a 200+ foot sea level rise. Kiss all of the world’s coastal cities goodbye. Oh yes, and most of the western U.S. will become a dust bowl within a few decades.
- There is a major difference between “weather” and “climate”. The fact that the past couple years have been rather mild in the United States does not mean the planet isn’t getting warmer. People who read the weather on TV often flippantly joke about climate change not being real because it’s cold today. They really need to STFU….in Romm’s words, asking a weatherman about climate change is like going to the dentist if your kid gets the flu.
- It’s always easy to convince people to do nothing. Plus, when you don’t have to stick to the facts you can create a very compelling narrative.
Finally, I noticed Kate Sheppard was also livetweeting the talk. You can find her comments @kate_sheppard.
According to the panelists of the Center for American Progress panel discussion today, climate change does not cause migration, but rather exacerbates it. The root causes of migration are political and economic instability, they stressed. There will be up-front costs to protect against the causes of such migration, but the potential costs of inaction could prove far greater.
Here is some basic information about migration. There are four different types, two that are gradual and two that are quick. According to Susan Martin, Herzberg Professor of International Migration, School of Foreign Service, Georgetown University, the first one is due to drought; the second due to rising sea levels; the third due to natural disasters; and the fourth due to conflict over resources.
Most migration in general is domestic, she added. This is somewhat shown in the existence of more domestic policy regarding this area. Unfortunately, there is no good policy to help international environmental migrants; migrants cannot be considered refugees because they’re not being persecuted so there is still a lot of work that needs to be done in order to have a legal framework to work with.
According to David Waskow, Climate Change Program Director, Oxfam America, other actions which need to be taken include building climate resilience and adaptation strategies, managing risk and promoting insurance, and resettling populations when absolutely necessary. Building climate resilience means addressing water scarcity, improving agriculture and minimizing risk from severe weather. Promoting insurance means implementing micro insurance which is like micro finance but in the context of insurance. This would enable small farmers to buy insurance based on the weather index. So the insurance would kick in depending on the weather. Premiums would be paid for by many families who do work to mitigate climate change in other ways such as developing water dams and compost systems.
How much would all of this cost, you ask? About $77- 89 billion per year. How are we going to convince our policymakers to appropriate that much money? I have no idea. One thing is pretty clear though, if the government were to spend money on fighting migration, it should be in the form of adaptation assistance and not higher fences. We have to remember that migrants are people and therefore, we shouldn’t demonize them. Susan Martin made a very good point that migration has positive effects as well. However, only the negative effects were discussed during the hearing.