Friday, February 12, 2010

Global Warming

So apparently with all the snow blanketing parts of the East coast (although not New England) people are wondering where "global warming" has gone. After all, if DC is buried under more than three feet of snow can't this prove that global warming doesn't exist? This just shows that people don't really understand the term or what's going on. While "global warming" might be technically correct in terminology in that the atmosphere is warming, scientists have no idea what will happen as a result, except that weather will become more extreme. It is possible that we could actually slide into another ice age as a result of global warming.

Frank Luntz, who is a brilliant Republic strategist and word smith (he was the one who changed the estate tax, which most people were for, to the death tax, which most people were against), has changed his politicians from talking about global warming to climate change. He sees this as a victory for the Republicans, but I actually see it as a move in the right direction. While maybe not as "alarming" as the term global warming, it actually better sums up what's taking place, and removes people from saying "It's not warming up, so obviously global warming is not happening."

I have personally been working on environmental issues for a long-time, and remember back to the time when the environmental chant was "we're killing the planet." I kept saying to the groups I was working with that a) this was not true, and b) it was not effective. It's not true because the planet was here long before we were and it will be here long after we're gone. It's not effective because that talks in the abstract, versus if we say "we're killing ourselves" that's something that people are much more concerned about. It's not about the planet, it's about us. We have to live here, our children have to live here, their children have to live here, etc.

The way to be effective in politics about anything is to make the story about them, not about someone else. This is why the Republicans, with the assistance of Frank Luntz, are so much more effective then the Democrats are. Democrats want to talk about the other and looking out for the other, which I strongly agree with. But most people are too concerned about themselves and their family to be concerned about others. And so the language needs to be changed to be about them, that's why the change to "death tax" was so effective. People began to think, that could effect me, even though it probably wouldn't, and so they reacted and acted.

We need a change of language and approach so that people understand that global climate change will impact them, will change their life and then give them ways to do something about it. How we do that I will leave to the people who study these things, but that is the direction we need to go.

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