Climate communications: Exaggerated, unsupported threats are destroying people’s lives

Climate communications: Exaggerated, unsupported threats are destroying people’s lives

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These fears are not supported by any science says yet another climate scientist:

“I genuinely have the fear that climate change is going to kill me and all my family, I’m not even kidding it’s all I have thought about for the last 9 months every second of the day. It’s making my sick to my stomach, I’m not eating or sleeping and I’m getting panic attacks daily. It’s currently 1 am and I can’t sleep as I’m petrified.” – Young adult in the UK

….

JC message to children and young adults:  Don’t believe the hype that you are hearing from Extinction Rebellion and the like.  Rather than going on strike or just worrying, take the time to learn something about the science of climate change.  The IPCC reports are a good place to start; for a critical perspective on the IPCC, Climate Etc. is a good resource.

Climate change — manmade and/or natural — along with extreme weather events, provide reasons for concern.   However, the rhetoric and politics of climate change have become absolutely toxic and nonsensical.

….

JC message to Extinction Rebellion and other doomsters:  Not only do you know nothing about climate change, you also appear to know nothing of history.  You are your own worst enemy — you are triggering a global backlash against doing anything sensible about protecting our environment or reducing our vulnerability to extreme weather.  You are making young people miserable, who haven’t yet experienced enough of life to place this nonsense in context.

Source: The toxic rhetoric of climate change | Climate Etc.

The last paragraph is the point I have been making in regards to climate communications. So much has gone so far off scale and off target that it is turning people off from doing anything.

Read the whole thing to understand the problem.

The author is formerly Chair of the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at the Georgia Institute of Technology, and now President of Climate Forecast Applications Network (CFAN), and is author or co-author of 167 peer reviewed research papers. Much more on her bio here.

Standard Disclaimer Applies: How to Do Climate Communications – Never Cry Wolf

As I previously wrote

The Nature Conservancy should focus on facts of atmospheric CO2 levels rising, land and sea surface temperature anomalies, ice pack changes, ocean Ph and sea level change (IPCC Synthesis Report, Figure SPM.1) – as reported by reputable scientific bodies, but they did not. Instead they went straight for hyperbole and making untrue claims to promote fear and hysteria.

or

Stick with the facts of CO2 rising, sea level ice and temperature changes, ice mass changes or risk tuning all of us out. Shrill terminology designed to create emotional outrage and responses is a total turn off.

and

The facts are sufficient. The impacts of untrue propaganda hysteria, on the other hand, are to turn off the target completely. We have learned nothing from the parable of the boy who repeatedly cried Wolf!

The propaganda messaging methods in use are leading to public opinions that are not based in facts, logic or evidence. In the U.S. 51% of those aged 18-34 believe humanity may become extinct within 10-15 years, even though there is zero evidence to support such a conclusion. This disconnect between belief and reality risks the potential for major backlash against taking action to reduce CO2-equivalent effects on climate.

Some suggest focusing on solutions and opportunities – instead of unrealistic, dystopian catastrophes designed primarily as click-bait – would be a more effective and positive way forward for climate communications. Instead, we get intense negativity – and falsehoods – that have led to children and adults to seek mental health treatment for induced anxiety.

Personal Notes on Climate Realism

We are taking direct actions to reduce our CO2-equivalent emissions. In late 2019, we spent US$18,000 (before credits) to install a solar PV array that will reduce our home’s annual grid-provided electricity to net zero (likely less). Our utility generates 56% of its electricity by burning coal and 14% by burning natural gas (about half the emissions of coal). Solar PV directly cuts our portion of those GHG emissions to zero.

We just spent $5,000 to upgrade 40 year old R-19 attic insulation (which has settled such that it is less than that) to R-60 building code standards. For an all electric house, and before the updates, we already used 1/3d the amount of electricity of similar homes. We heat using locally sourced wood pellets and our home is cold every winter day. I drive a Honda Fit averaging about 42 mpg. While spending an amount similar to a low end electric vehicle, our solar and attic upgrades will have a far greater reduction in CO2 emissions than buying an EV. About half of an EV’s lifetime CO2 emissions occur during its manufacturing and if you live where your electricity to charge your EV is generated by burning coal, your overall CO2 emissions reductions are small. While EVs will generally reduce CO2 emissions, for many they are primarily a virtue signaling device (a survey by Volvo found about 75% of purchasers said this, and selected an EV because paradoxically it “helps them to feel better about making less environmentally conscious decisions in “other areas of life.”.)

I post this at the end of each climate communications post because merely mentioning climate  results in being called a climate denier or a Nazi.

Call me a climate realist but don’t call me a denier or a Nazi.

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