Populism, peer review or poppycock?

How do we break the impasse on Climate Change? At the moment it’s all talk and very little action. And yet we know that every day spent talking makes the tast of reversing the CO2 build-up that much harder.

The technology is available to convert all our power stations to renewable energy sources. Yes, we can do this. But instead of getting on with it, what is proposed?  A 150-strong Citizens’ Assembly will be appointed to examine the evidence on climate change, the case for action and a market based approach to reducing pollution.


Surveys show that an overwhelming majority of people agree that Climate Change is real, and action is needed.  So what’s wrong? Is this a good example of the failure of surveys to distinguish attitudes from behaviour? Or is it a case of political leaders not only not leading, but not even following?

Or is it simply that the fossil fuel lobby is very powerful and well organised? The miners certainly showed their strength and ability to turn public opinion rcently when it came to the Mining Profits Super Tax.

The Citizens’ assembly approach seems to be a bit like the way John Howard aborted the Republican debate – although he appeared to put a mechanism in place to move forward, he actually led it into a blind alley by changing the argument.

The best way that the fossil fuel lobby can skew opinion in their favour is to go over the old ground again and again, feeding off the few remaining climate change deniers, and never letting the argument go forward to the much clearer arguments. After all, changing technology is simple compared with understanding how the global ecosystem works.

So, in the face of this, how do we communicate the imperatives of Climate Change?

We need to stop the “save the earth” rhetoric. It’s wrong and it trivialises the argument. And we need to stop the “climate change” rhetoric too. There are too many deniers around, and it’s easy to get sidetracked into flat-earth type arguments with simpletons, or to be accused of negativism and predictions of doom. 

So, how should we communicate?

The word “sustainable” is getting dragged into every corner these days for a good reason. It works. It seems to mean something to people. People don’t like change, and generally don’t understand it, and “sustainable” systems are those that can go on and on without change. I get a strong sense that people often wring their hands about Climate Change – seeing it correctly as a global problem, but incorrectly as something that an individual or even a smallish country can’t influence. But they are much more comfortable thinking about sustainability,  as it’s something they can tackle in their own life, in their backyard or on their roof. Next step, building momentum, companies and governments can adopt sustainable solutions.

Sustainable systems use renewable resources. And renewable is do-able.


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