June 23, 2009 – Now there’s an interesting riddle: How does one go about making people less afraid of acknowledging climate change? I think that if this riddle could be untangled, it might also provide an at least partial answer to the question about avoiding panic.
In my opinion, one primary reason people are afraid of the subject of climate change is that they are bombarded with information about a host of very serious problems, all of which need to be addressed. Here’s where we make use of a gift that just keeps on giving. Division of labor. Does everybody in the world need to become involved in this discussion? Thank goodness, the answer is No. A significant number of people? Yes. Here’s where overpopulation may actually work to our advantage. There are enough of us to work on all the problems that confront us. Enough brain power, enough ideas, enough muscle, enough good will. In a sense, this division of labor has already taken place. Those of us who are active members of Sierra Club, the National Wildlife Federation, the Nature Conservancy, and other organizations like them, have already signed on. We know there’s a problem and are eager to address it. However, the one aspect of the problem not receiving enough attention from these organizations is educating the public. Telling people they need to recycle just isn’t enough anymore. It is imperative that we move to the next stage. These organizations must determine what the next stage is, and come up with the money to pay for public service announcements on television. LOTS OF THEM. This is the only way I know of to disseminate information widely and quickly.
Why should private organizations undertake this costly endeavor?
Because the government has failed to do so, and because these groups say they exist in order to protect the environment (among other things). Until government assumes its rightful place in the mix, private environmental organizations must serve as its surrogate. In doing so, they will contribute to the creation of a better-informed public.
A better-informed public will pay attention to what happens in Copenhagen this December. A better-informed public is likelier to accept – even insist upon – meaningful government measures being enacted in order to address climate change. That in itself could lead to effective, long-lasting change, and that’s just what we need. Finally, some members of the public will join the organizations that are teaching them about climate change, bringing the world closer to the critical mass of people needed to shoulder the load.