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What do you think of the Union of Concerned Scientists ad campaign, “Scientists are Curious for Life”?

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"What do you think of the Union of Concerned Scientists ad campaign, “Scientists are Curious for Life”?"

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The Union of Concerned Scientists has launched a new ad campaign.  It is part of their long-standing effort to shine a light on the scientific truth about human-caused global warming.

The thinking behind the ads, according to UCS President Kevin Knobloch, is that “People like science and scientists, but they often don’t have a good idea of who they are as people.”

Of Dr. Inouye, we find out:

Ever since I was a kid, I’ve been asking questions about the birds and the bees. How do they fly? What do they eat?

Now that I’m a trained scientist, my questions may be more sophisticated, but the passion is the same. I wonder what climate change is doing to the life cycle of wildflowers, and how bumblebees and hummingbirds are reacting to those changes. The bug’s-eye view shows me that our world is warming like never before. My name is David Inouye, and I’m a concerned scientist.

To learn more about my work, visit www.ucsusa.org/evidence.

I asked filmmaker/scientist Randy Olson, author of Don’t Be Such a Scientist:  Talking Substance in an Age of Style, for his thoughts.  He wrote me:

I’m very, very impressed with the Union of Concerned Scientists’ “Meet the Scientists” campaign.  It’s the sort of positive messaging for science and scientists that is needed — an effort that simply fuels the fires of the polls that show the public in general has an overall positive impression of science, despite the recent attacks.

This is a crucial element in overcoming the unjustified negativity of the anti-climate science crowd.  The most important element for science to work properly is to retain the respect and trust of the general public.  A key part of that is effective public relations.  These vignettes of scientists are exactly that — they are humanizing, friendly, warm and most importantly are honest — based on true, simple tidbits from their past that people can connect with.  They are not “spin” or any sort of deception.

All the campaign needs now is large scale funding (if only we knew someone who recently had raised $300 million for the mass communication of climate change …).

That last sentence was a jibe at the Alliance for Climate Protection, a group that is doing very good work, but whose ads could probably be better.

The ads tell stories of three scientists.   Here’s the one about Julia Cole:

I’ve always been an explorer. Just ask my mother.  Today, it’s leading me deep into the caves of the American Southwest.  My work relates what ‘s going on below to what’s going on above:  I’ve found that stalagmites hold clues about the climate record of the past. Surprising connections like this one are helping me track how the planet is warming like never before. My name is Julia Cole, and I’m a concerned scientist.

And lastly, Cameron Wake:

In high school I was a romantic””and I still am. Faraway places have always filled me with wonder.

That’s why I chose a career that takes me to our planet’s most inhospitable climates. I get to mountaineer my way to new discoveries. My research on Arctic glaciers has revealed how our world is warming like never before. My name is Cameron Wake, and I’m a concerned scientist.

The ads are fine by me.  They aren’t meant to solve the whole problem, though I tend to agree with the findings of Stanford communications expert Jon Krosnick that a large majority of Americans continue to believe global warming is real and trust scientists.

My only quibble with the ads is that the public — or rather the persuadable public — knows that the world is warming.  The fact that it is “warming like never before” is a good message.  But I would have urged UCS to have one of the three scientists be someone whose work has been on attribution, on the showing how we know that humans are causing this unprecedented warming.  That’s where the polling starts to be weaker.

But kudos to UCS for these ads.  More groups need to do this.

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30 Responses to What do you think of the Union of Concerned Scientists ad campaign, “Scientists are Curious for Life”?

  1. ariel P smith says:

    The science is settled!!

    This seems to a non curious claim.

  2. Raul says:

    Thank-you
    Baseball caps could have a radiant barrier on
    top as the color to the cap. In the south any
    cap or hat may become hot, hot, hot.
    And the batters helmet whew.

  3. MapleLeaf says:

    While I think the ad campaign is a great idea, and while I commend the UCS for taking the initiative, I really do have to take issue with their repeated claim in the ads that “the planet is warming like never before. That is simply not true, it is true that we humans are warming the planet like we have never done before. That line is going to be fodder for those in denial about AGW and it will, unfortunately, afford them the opportunity to play the ‘alarmist’ card– mark my words.

    UCS, if it is not too late, please consider changing the text in question to something like “has revealed that the planet is warming, mostly due to human activities”.

    Not eloquent I know, but a PR firm should be up to it ;)

    Scientists are curious, and in my experience they value the thrill of discovery and problem solving infinitely more than the lure of money as many ‘skeptics’ claim.

    Where would ecology be had E O Wilson not been fascinated by ants as a boy.

    Anyhow, UCS keep up the good work.

  4. Will Koroluk says:

    I’m delighted by these ads. I’ve been a UCS donor for a while now, and these ads are a good example of my money at work. I know, however, that they haven’t got the sort of budget that would permit a saturation campaign lasting over a period of months. (I guess you need oil money for that!) But the ads remind me that it’s time to send another contribution when my next pension cheque arrives.

  5. Abe says:

    I like the ads, and I’d like to see more of them.

    One problem I’ve run into in discussing climate science is that a number of people seem to think that scientists are motivated by money and political power, or that they’re generally dry, boring, uninterested people who just go through the motions and don’t really care about what they do.

    Having things like this floating around could, in time, help remove that stereotype.

  6. rumpole! says:

    I think the ads are useful. One problem the scientific community has had is that we haven’t had any public “personalities”. Carl Sagan was the last scientist I can recall who was well-known by the public. We need someone like Einstein, who was universally respected and was listened to by the common man and by Presidents. I guess Steven Hawking might carry that kind of weight, and possibly Neil DeGrasse Tyson, both astronomers. Who is the most famous climatologist that the public would recognize?

    Interestingly, it appears that Steven Chu, the Secretary of Energy, might be making a name for himself, since he’s working pretty closely on the Deepwater Horizon problem. The right-wing can poke fun at him for advocating white roofs (which actually is a good idea), but the public knows and appreciates hard work when it sees it. I think Dr. Chu will only add to his standing after the oil is no longer hemorrhaging into the Gulf.

  7. Robbert says:

    THE FABRIC OF SCIENCE IS TRUTH and the essence of Politics is spin! A candidate must raise millions to fund an election and run a never ending fund raising campaign. Until the corporate filled campaign coffer is neutralized, politicians will always be suspect of selling their vote! Campaign dollars are not ‘free speech’ it is just what it has always been; the payoffs of politicians. Only 5% of the campaign monies raised come from individuals. What would happen if all campaign donations were apportioned to the parties by the number of registered voters. Just maybe Barton would not have a desire to apologize to BP! Incentive might realigned to needs of the electorate instead of the biggest corporate donors!

  8. Mossy says:

    I often feel like I’m navigating between two parallel, yet opposite, worlds, that of the climate cognoscenti and that of the general clueless masses. Amongst the former group, the subject of bridging this gap often arises; how do we get beyond the choir? Therefore, I count any type of campaign like this helpful.

    When in DC for Earth Day, a small group of us environmentalists encountered a scientist who confided in us that he really has to appear “neutral” when outside of his workplace, or his studies might be considered biased. He told us that it was up to us to get the word out! But who is to believe us? What credentials do we have? How do we spread the word?

    Climate ads on national prime-time TV would be effective at convincing many of the mildly concerned, but generally unaware, populace. This is being done by the government in the UK. It would be wonderful if Obama would issue an executive order to create this here, based on the government studies available at http://www.globalchange.gov., paid for by billions of tax dollars under the Bush administration.

    However, as this appears unlikely, we need others to step up to the plate, big or small. Environment MA ran some TV ads highlighting Senator Scott Brown’s Yes vote on Murkowski’s Dirty Air Act. We need more of this, in every state. RePower America has also had some fine ads, but I fear Al is a turn-off to many. We need some rich admired climate hero to begin funding millions of dollars worth of climate ads — how about Leonardo DiCaprio?

    Another idea to reach the general public is to display a large screen in selected cities, displaying climate refugee stories, or to display showings of “100 Places that will Disappear with Climate Change” as was done in Copenhagen. Again, we need a rich donor, or thousands of little ones, united in purpose.

    I applaud the UCS’s efforts, and hope that this is the beginning of a new fight-back campaign to preserve a habitable planet.

  9. Ted NH says:

    Bees, caves, and glaciers — all things the public understands (or likes to think they do.) It beats talk that is laced with things such as millibars, ppm, and anthropogenic. Meet the pubic on turf where they are comfortable. Good campaign.

  10. catman306 says:

    Climate is average weather.
    Climate Change is future bad weather you can help prevent.
    Reduce your Fossil Fuel usage.

    (use it or lose it)

  11. Edie Frederick says:

    I agree with your feeling & your specific suggestion about attribution, Joe. We can say that the ads are the best the UCS can do right now. How could they be better? Probably if “they” – the UCS or their ad agency – got a more personal grasp on the kind of single person or key group they are addressing. The ads would improve
    if “they” visualized some real specific people as their target audience. The ads are too dumbed down, too generic, too cute.

  12. Prokaryotes says:

    The fact that we need PR to promote science is just another indicator how miserable the situation is. I for myself would love to work in some science project, but i do not met the requirements for studying at the university level.

  13. johna says:

    Is there a plan to spread the ads further than the UCSUSA website?

  14. sod says:

    sorry again Joe, but Monckton is now directly asking the WuWt readership to harass the University of Abraham with mails, asking for disciplinary action against him.

    May I ask your kind readers once more for their help? Would as many of you as possible do what some of you have already been good enough to do? Please contact Father Dennis J. Dease, President of St. Thomas University, djdease@stthomas.edu, and invite him – even at this eleventh hour – to take down Abraham’s talk altogether from the University’s servers, and to instigate a disciplinary inquiry into the Professor’s unprofessional conduct, particularly in the matter of his lies to third parties about what I had said in my talk at Bethel University eight months ago? That would be a real help.

  15. Jeff Huggins says:

    I Like It Alot — and Perhaps Love It — But . . .

    Bravo to the UCS for this campaign. I like it alot. But, I’d like to mention a few things just to make sure that someone is considering them for future campaigns and, importantly, regarding other things that the UCS and scientists should be doing.

    Of course, no single campaign or organization can accomplish the entire task of “moving” society on climate change. So, any individual campaign (and we need lots more of them!) is only one small part of the overall battle, so to speak, and can only convey parts of the idea, message, paradigm shift, motivation, or what-have-you.

    With that said . . .

    First, I think that many people understand that scientists are “curios” about life, of course. Scientists are curious folks. Science is about curiosity. The ads, as I read them, emphasize the point that “scientists are curios” (and good and regular) folks — and they slip in the valid factual point that the climate is warming, and they do so in a very human way. So far, so good. Perhaps that’s great. Perhaps that’s all that a print ad, and a single campaign, can do.

    The take-away: Scientists are curios, and regular, and good folks. They can be liked and trusted. And they’ve found that the climate is warming and that the warming will bring about various changes.

    But there is a gap, or rather an additional need: It’s one thing to say that scientists are curious about life and about things in general. It’s another thing to say — and to DEMONSTRATE — that scientists LOVE life (in the broad sense, i.e., the human species, the biological community of life, and the conditions of the planet that sustain life) and that scientists are DEEPLY CONCERNED about life and those things in light of the fact that the climate is warming and that we are causing that warming.

    In other words, if you are merely “curios” about me (as an example), you can be happy — or at least indifferent — as you study me under a microscope even as I wriggle and die. On the other hand, if you love me (as an example) and are concerned about my well-being, you’ll show some passion and action if you see that I’m wriggling and dying. You won’t just watch me under the microscope, take notes, and report on what you see: You’ll also SHOW SOME PASSION and DO SOMETHING.

    Here’s my theory, or part of it: Most people understand that scientists are curious. But, many people probably wonder (subconsciously and naturally, if not consciously), how “big” can the problem (climate change) be, really, if scientists are content to just observe it, understand it, and report on it, without doing much else?

    There is a big de-linkage between the communication (words on a page, photographs, etc.) and the degree of concern, in-person passion, and serious urgency that is being demonstrated (and conveyed) by people’s actual actions. “Oh look, George, the UCS is running an ad campaign about curious and nice scientists and about their finding that the climate is warming. That’s nice. The world must be doing reasonably OK, at least for the foreseeable future, because if things were really serious and urgent, scientists (and those nice people in the media) would be doing much, much, much more than merely running nice ads and putting articles on page 16. Now, when are we going to take that vacation to Disney World?”

    As mentioned, a single campaign can only do so much. But, scientists should realize this: The main question in the minds — or rather “guts” — of many members of the public, in my view, is not whether you (we: I’m a scientist too) are “curios”. Nor is it even whether many or most scientists have “found”, intellectually, that the climate is warming, or even whether we humans are causing it. Instead, it’s this: How SERIOUS is the problem, and how much should we, humans, be CONCERNED?

    And — and this is very important — the answers to those questions can’t really be genuinely and compellingly conveyed by words on a page alone.

    Contrast these three things:

    * A print ad campaign about scientists being curious, and good folks, and about their intellectual finding that climate change is real.

    * Your neighbor — a climate scientist, or life scientist, or any scientist for that matter — grabbing your arm, gently, the next time she talks to you, looking you straight in the eyes, with an expression of sincerity and concern, and expressing her scientific conviction about climate change and her deep concern that we need to take effective actions very soon.

    * Five thousand scientists holding a rally in front of the White House and, then, in front of the Capitol, insisting that we must address climate change now.

    The second and third actions contain and convey “communication” that is entirely absent from the first sort of action. Indeed, science itself informs us of that fact: Not climate science, but the scientific understanding of human sociality, of how humans convey and receive information, and of what motivates humans and what doesn’t motivate humans.

    This presents a dilemma for scientists, and the sooner we face it, the better: The very sorts of actions that are necessary in order to genuinely and deeply convey the importance and gravity of the problem — and the fact that we are not only curious, but we are also human and wise — are the sorts of actions that we are least comfortable doing. We would rather write papers than reach out to talk sincerely to an unconvinced neighbor. We would rather run an ad campaign than talk sincerely to ten neighbors or protest in front of the Capitol. We would rather be understood as being curious and trustable — and leave it at that — than have to take other additional actions that are (indeed) called for given the understanding that we have and that others don’t have. Far too many of us would rather go back to the lab than speak out, move beyond our comfort zones, and show our concerns in person.

    These aren’t theoretical matters, of course. The fact that many humans take their cues about “what’s really serious” from how other people ACT, rather than from what their print advertisements and periodic articles say, is as much a fact as — indeed, even more of a fact than — our factual understanding of the reality and causes of climate change.

    This is part of the problem with the media’s coverage too. A seemingly serious article about some aspect of climate change (although usually watered down and presented in the context of “the controversy”) is run on page 16. Part of the natural human take-away is this: “How serious and urgent can this matter really be, if the article is a small one on page 16?”

    I’ll add one more thought, below. For now, all in all, I think that the ads are very good for what they are seeming to try to do. But, I think that MUCH MORE will be needed, along the lines of what I’ve mentioned here, and much of what’s needed can’t be done in print ads or even in TV ads. People get cues from what they see other people DO. Action communicates. Inaction also communicates. Right now, there is way too much inaction. We shouldn’t need to wonder, very hard, about why large chunks of the public are unmoved, so far.

    Cheers,

    Jeff

  16. Jeff Huggins says:

    Sorry

    Sorry for the dance, in my earlier comment, between “curious” (correct) and “curios”. Although some people may think of some scientists as “curios”, that’s not what I meant, of course.

    Be Well,

    Jeff

  17. Rob Honeycutt says:

    These are really nice ads but I hope they did some market studies to see if it resonates with the sort of people who need to be convinced. Those of us here can think all day that these are really great, but are the ads convincing people to believe the climate scientists? Maybe they just look at these and go, “Yeah, those are the kids I hated when I was in grade school.”

    My take is you have to appeal to a more base level mentality. I’ll post this video again. I think John Wayland is hitting the nail right on the head. This guy is doing work that definitely changes the hearts and minds of middle America.

  18. Antoni Jaume says:

    Mapleleaf
    you say ” I really do have to take issue with their repeated claim in the ads that “the planet is warming like never before. ”

    I think that what they mean is that the speed of the warming is greater than in the past. That doesn’t preclude warmer climates in the past, the problem is that what took centuries is now taking only years.

  19. Jeff Huggins says:

    One More Thing (this one from Einstein)

    Albert Einstein once observed:

    “The whole of science is nothing more than a refinement of everyday thinking.”

    Many people today seem to think of science as something that is unreal, disconnected from reality, “theoretical” (in the sense of not real or practical), and so forth.

    Many people think: What I see with my eyes and feel with my fingers is real. What a scientist tells me is unreal or unimportant — especially if I can’t see it myself.

    Einstein’s quote is a great one. We (humans) all do science. The scientific quest has to do with understanding how the world works, and why. Babies do science. Teenagers do it. Adults do it. Scientists do it, but in focused and careful ways, and with nice equipment. Scientists aren’t trying to understand another universe that we DON’T live in. They are trying to understand our universe that we DO live in. (Or at least most of them, anyhow.)

    Science doesn’t mean UNreal. It aims at The Real.

    This also relates to my earlier point. If science aims at understanding The Real, and if scientists are trustworthy and right about climate change being Real, then why are 98% of them not speaking out actively and personally, and why are scientists putting up with the shabby coverage in the media, and why are they just running an ad campaign? If scientists — the people who claim to understand — are content with running an ad campaign, then I’ll be content to plan that trip to Disney World and to vote for my next Senator based on considerations other than her stance on climate change. This sort of thinking, or feeling, is what is going on (subconsciously, in the gut) of many people, I think.

    Action speaks.

    Back to the Einstein point, though, I think it’s an important one for more members of the public to understand. Science is about using better tools, and focused thinking, and careful experiments, to try to understand how the world works, which is something that every human does (try to understand how the world works) naturally, to various degrees. Science is the quest to do that as well as possible, in ways that try to avoid or minimize mistakes. Science is not about UNreality. It’s about Reality.

    Cheers,

    Jeff

  20. Mossy says:

    Jeff, did you read my earlier comment about the DC scientist? (#8 “When in DC for Earth Day, a small group of us environmentalists encountered a scientist who confided in us that he really has to appear “neutral” when outside of his workplace, or his studies might be considered biased.”)I suspect this is NOT an isolated case. Scientists are also fathers, husbands, sons, etc., and as such they want to keep their jobs. They want to keep up with their house payments, eat, and send their children to college. Dr. Hansen has reached a point in his life where he can afford to speak out, but many scientists cannot. Look at Michael Mann’s saga. Even though he has been proven innocent, his life has been difficult.

    Besides, scientists by nature tend to be quiet nerds, not the demonstrative type. Why aren’t religious leaders preaching about the implications of climate change to their parishioners, since they supposedly care about the world’s poor? Why aren’t doctors clamoring for action, considering the public health implications? Why doesn’t Obama issue an executive order requiring all Congressmen to listen to a presentation by the National Academy of Science? I’m glad that some scientists and organizations are trying new messaging, but I think the burden of conveying this lays outside their role.

  21. Peter Mizla says:

    Good effort by the UCS- as always

    I have been reading their site for a few years- their climatic predictions are fascinating but frightening for the northeast.

    The segment of Dramatically Changing Climates is blood curdling.

  22. Jeff Huggins says:

    Hi Mossy (Comment 20) …

    Thanks for your comment.

    I agree with part of what you are saying (the part about the need and central responsibilities of other professions to also step up to the plate), but the same goes for scientists, and all of us.

    Yes, the media SHOULD be doing a much better job. They are REALLY dropping the ball, because it is their job to communicate well, and they presumably aim to serve the public good via providing important information.

    And yes, politicians SHOULD be doing a much better job. Needless to say, they are dropping a big ball and letting us all down.

    And I agree with you regarding doctors and so forth and so on.

    Moral philosophers and religious leaders should be doing a much better job.

    But, the self-handcuffing of scientists won’t do, and scientists too should be speaking out much more vigorously. The “it’s not my job” argument doesn’t work in a situation like this, with such high stakes, and (in many ways) scientists have a larger responsibility to speak out, because they are the ones with the deepest understanding of the problem itself. If everyone else (the media, politicians, etc.) were doing their jobs well, then scientists could stick narrowly to the science. But that’s not the case: not even close. So, scientists, who understand the problem and trust in science, do have an immense HUMAN responsibility to speak out and do what it takes to wake others up, and fast.

    Also, the reasoning that scientists have jobs and families and so forth, so they can’t speak out or rock the boat, doesn’t hold on a matter such as this. Everyone has such concerns. People in the oil business and coal business feel constrained from speaking out, too, because of fear of losing jobs. Reporters in the media probably hold back on complaining to their bosses, or writing more urgently and clearly, for fear of losing their jobs. And, after all, politicians don’t act boldly because they, too, want to get elected next time around, and are afraid that they won’t. On a matter such as climate change, the “I can’t speak out because my boss won’t like it” reasoning is simply not good enough, and not a good excuse. Everyone can use that excuse, and if everyone does, we may as well all give up. Change is not easy. That’s Lesson One.

    I think that scientists should speak out, and loudly, and soon, and in person. There are many ways to do it. We have to move past the excuses. After all, knowledge is of very little use unless it’s PUT to use, effectively.

    That said, I agree with you on the other points, but I don’t think we’ll get anywhere unless scientists take much more of the lead, at least initially and persistently.

    Cheers,

    Jeff

  23. Mossy says:

    Hi Jeff,
    I totally agree with you, ‘On a matter such as climate change, the “I can’t speak out because my boss won’t like it” reasoning is simply not good enough, and not a good excuse.” And this applies to all players in this — from the media to the scientists, and beyond. What happened our courage? Our forefathers braved the wild seas to come to the new frontier across the Atlantic, and we’ve become so staid and passive. With the future of a habitable planet at stake, how can anyone NOT speak out?

  24. Roger says:

    Jeff, Mossy, and others make good points. And the ads are probably helpful, to a degree. But I’d like to make another point, illustrated with a short, true-to-life personal story.
    (I promise this will tie back to the ads if you’ll bear with me for a few minutes!)

    Last week I was helping with the inevitable sorting of papers that comes with settling the affairs of one’s deceased parents who have lived in the same house for more than half a century.

    Deep in one desk drawer were stashed some c. 1944 US government milk and gasoline rationing cards. It reminded me of what it must have been like to REALLY be at war—unlike today, when we have a relatively out-of sight, out-of-mind, (and by-definition, never ending), tax-dollar-sucking “war on terrorism.” (Ironic, too, isn’t it, that we are meanwhile ignoring the inconvenient REAL threat to our future, aka climate change!)

    Back to the drawer and its mysterious contents.

    Near the rationing cards (which carried notice of a stiff, $10,000, fine for fraudulent use) were US government Civil Defense papers from 1958, giving instructions on how to build and stock a home fallout shelter to protect one’s family from a fearsome atomic bomb attack. (I’ll spare the details, but do recall being worried about this as a kid.)

    Here’s the point: The Civil Defense system, including the neatly-described air-raid siren signals that indicated whether one was hearing a “test,” an “alert,” or an “attack,” and what to do about each, reminded me of something that seems importantly and totally missing from today’s stranger-than-fiction, climate-threatened life in America.

    Can anyone guess what’s missing? We’ll, think about why governments came to be formed and accepted in the first place. Why do people, even red-blooded, flag-waving Americans who love their freedom and (irony ON) hate (their) government, submit themselves to the rule of government? Check it out: one reason is that the government, in exchange for part of your earnings, agrees to help alert you to dangers (even ones that you can’t see), and to protect you from them—whether by regulation, or military might, or some other means.

    So, along the lines that Jeff and Mossy cite, but with a slightly different focus: Where are the official US Government climate change warning signs? (Or, perhaps, more appropriately, given where we are vis-à-vis climate tipping points, where are the SIRENS alerting innocent citizens of the coming danger?) Where is our US civil defense system? Where is our government–our paid protector, when it comes to getting the word out? THAT is where the fingers should be pointing!

    If some 95+ percent of our best climate scientists, with no one paying them to do so, are telling us that we are facing a serious situation unless we act NOW, why isn’t our own GOVERNMENT spending the money that’s needed to let ill-informed people know?

    Think about it. This is a valid role for our government. And the role is not being played.

    Also, our government is also one of the few entities that have the money necessary to refute the misinformation campaign of the fossil fuel industry and their hired guns. Yet we hear nothing akin to what we need to hear. Why is this? Who is asleep at the switch? Does anyone know the answer?

    Why do we face a clear and present danger, yet hear no warning that is loud and clear enough for us to be able to collectively agree to work together on a solution? This is especially troubling when it is a fairly simple and painless solution (compared to the consequences of not acting).

    With 95+ percent of our best climate scientists telling us to “Jump,” citizens should be asking “How high?” Instead, they are asking “What’s the problem?”

    So, again, why isn’t our government, having spent some $20 billion on climate research (see http://www.globalchange.gov) that shows dire problems ahead, spending at least five percent of that to get the results into the hands and the heads of our citizens?

    As Thomas Jefferson once said, “An informed citizenry is the bulwark of a democracy.” An informed citizenry is also an obligation of a government that wishes to preserve itself and its citizens.

    So, the ads that are the subject of this post are useful. Sort of like a few kernels of corn are useful to a starving child. But, again, where are the US civil defense warnings that are apropos the situation?

    CP readers can help. Contact your elected officials, point them to the facts on climate change, and ask that better climate information be disseminated to our citizens.

    Finally, sign our petition, asking President Obama to Educate and Lead on Climate Change at http://www.change.org/global_warming_education_network. We want to take at least 10,000 signatures to him when we go to Washington to make the White House green at our 10/10/10 White House Work Party. We’re more than one third there!

    Thanks for reading, and for taking action.

    Warm regards,

    Roger

  25. Jeff Huggins says:

    Mossy (Comment 23) and Roger (Comment 24) …

    Mossy, thanks for the comment, and I agree.

    Roger, thanks for the comment, and I agree: It is the government’s right (that we people give it) and RESPONSIBILITY (that we people ask of it, and assign to it) to inform and warn us of such things. Presently, the government is dropping a BIG BALL on that front. It has needlessly tied its own hands. In being afraid of, and deferring to, people who seem intent on walking over a cliff, the government is not living up to its most basic responsibilities to me and to you and to us and to future Americans.

    Scientists have spoken clearly. The government has a responsibility to ACT.

    Good point.

    Be Well,

    Jeff

  26. Richard Miller says:

    Great Post Roger!! I will sign your petition. We also have the color coded terror alert for travel, but I do not see one for climate. How about a revised burning embers diagram for the IPCC to show where we are?

    I suspect the reason the Obama team does not do this because with knowledge comes responsibility. If the public were to become aware of the true urgency of the problem, then the pressure would be on to act.

    I am a supporter of Obama, but I am very outraged by his not coming out and telling the public what we are talking about.

  27. Chris Winter says:

    These UCS ads in general are great. But I have to second the caveat from MapleLeaf (#3):

    While I think the ad campaign is a great idea, and while I commend the UCS for taking the initiative, I really do have to take issue with their repeated claim in the ads that “the planet is warming like never before. That is simply not true, it is true that we humans are warming the planet like we have never done before. That line is going to be fodder for those in denial about AGW and it will, unfortunately, afford them the opportunity to play the ‘alarmist’ card—mark my words.

    There are many ways to resolve this and still keep the “punchiness’ of the line. “We’ve never seen warming like this,” for example. The ad might add, “and it looks more and more like we’re causing it.” I tend to prefer, at this juncture, a somewhat edgier approach that ends on a note of concern.

    OK, “edgier” is a vague term. Perhaps it will help clarify my meaning to tell that I liked the “This is your brain on drugs” PSA. Now, I wouldn’t go that far in the UCS campaign. But later it may be appropriate.

  28. Chris Winter says:

    Rumpole! wrote: “Interestingly, it appears that Steven Chu, the Secretary of Energy, might be making a name for himself, since he’s working pretty closely on the Deepwater Horizon problem.”

    He’s doing more than that. He’s recently collaborated on three scientific papers in diverse areas. One of them promises a tenfold increase in the resolving power of optical microscopes. I don’t have links for this news, but you should be able to Google it easily.

  29. Roger says:

    Thanks for your kind comments, Jeff and Richard (#s 25 & 26).

    Yes, I believe our best hope of getting on the path towards ‘solving’ the climate problem in time is to get our leader(s)to acknowledge the fact that they are not honoring their OBLIGATION TO ALERT US citizens to what is more and more becoming a clear and present danger.

    It’s very interesting to note that our military leaders see this, but that our political leaders don’t. And, yes, Richard has a good theory to explain why there may be no word, but, let’s face it, things are only going to get worse the longer that word is delayed.

    Besides, if Richard is right, can we climate-cognizant citizens allow the continued passing of the climate “hot potato” to some future administration (and generation)–hoping that a magic solution will appear before the now-small maddening crowd becomes too large and unruly?

    Does anyone know a good attorney? Maybe it’s time to try legal action.

    Warm regards,

    Roger

  30. Roger says:

    Joe,

    I’m wondering if you have some thoughts about the above reasoning: that it is a government’s obligation to alert its citizens to dangers, even (or ESPECIALLY) dangers that can’t easily be seen.

    Might this be a topic for a future blog posting? I’d love to hear what some others think. Perhaps the only reason that it’s not happening is that there is no known precedent for a threat such as this one.

    Even if the lack of precedent can EXPLAIN the lack of action, it certainly does not EXCUSE it! (Just imagine a group of citizens saying, in effect “Sure, we agree that the government is not obligated to alert us to, or protect us from, any entirely new types of threats.”)

    Thanks,

    Roger