From the new Climate Reality Project:
What can change in a day? Everything. On September 14, the world will focus its attention on the truth about the climate crisis. For 24 hours, we will all live in reality. Pick a faraway place or a city near you. Make it yours for one day. We’re hitting every time zone — but only once. 8 p.m. in your time zone. Choose a location and get involved.
What’s most interesting to me about this effort is that it explicitly rejects the idea that people concerned about climate change should avoid talking about climate change. There’s been a strong push within the environmental community in recent years to frame arguments around national security, economics, public health or, well, anything other than the impacts of climate change. Framing our arguments in those ways if perfectly fine — in fact, it is really important — but completely bypassing a frame as compelling as the destruction of civilization as we know it strikes me as an an epic strategic blunder. The fact is, different people respond to different frames, and given the urgency of the climate/energy/economic/health crises we face, we need to get as many people on board as we can as quickly as possible.
Gore touched on this in an interview published today by Grist’s David Roberts:
“This is a symphony and not a solo,” he told me. He agrees that the national security and economic messages are crucial to the effort, but “if the centrality of climate is excised, then the overall message is weakened.” Without climate, he said, the other lines of persuasion can be defeated or perverted. After all, “the carbon polluters and the deniers and their ideological allies are going to attack green jobs; they’re going to shift the national security argument to the exploitation of coal, tar sands, and shale.” Without climate as an anchor, the economic and security arguments can’t gain the traction they need. In short, “it’s important to reiterate the centrality of this challenge.”
He made a similar point in an interview with Joe Romm in April:
Romm: There are people out there saying, “Well we should stop talking about climate change and we should be talking about other things like energy security.” And you have been consistent in talking about the climate. And you write a lot in the book about behavior change and persuasion. I’d be interested in your thoughts about people who think we’re talking too much about climate change.
Gore: Well, I simply and strongly and vigorously disagree. The scale and magnitude of the changes that are necessary to solve the climate crisis mean that all of the collateral reasons for taking these steps will not get us to where we need to go without a clear understanding of what we’re facing if we don’t act. I think it’s a mistake to move that to the periphery of the conversation as so many have done. I think it has to be the heart of the conversation.
Disclosure: As the former Director of Online Communications and New Media at Gore’s Alliance for Climate Protection, I was involved in some early discussions about this campaign.
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