I ponder the message contained in the first sentence of a Science! article from the LA Times titled “Climate talks buffeted by the force of Superstorm Sandy“:
More than 17,000 people have converged on the Qatari capital for the latest U.N. climate talks
I imagine myself offering the following professional advise:
“Fellah, fellas, please. This global warming stuff – good product, excellent sales upside, and despite the beating we’ve taken over the last decade or so, we still have major mind share and positives. Hell, we should, what with the push my department has made.
“But enough about me – can we talk about these huge meetings in exotic places where nobody lives? Look, I like a good boondoggle as much as the next guy – hey, I work in marketing – but could we show an eensy teensy bit of awareness of the message we’re sending here? Do I have to spell it out? OK:
“See, what we’re looking for here are vast draconian powers to command the economic activity of the entire world, backed by a well-funded global apparatus to enforce our rules, which will lower the standard of living of many people – not that we’re saying that in the brochures, but that’s what ‘taking effective steps to combat global climate change’ means in reality. This, to put it bluntly, is a tough sell, even in the current environment. So we downplay this aspect. To sum up: Huge storms & starving polar bears = good message; vast bureaucracies and unemployment lines = not so good message.
Now, a few people have, despite our best efforts, noticed this – there’s always gotta be naysayers no matter how good the pitch. Even though we’ve got the celebrity endorsements and have bought way more air time, these jokers do have a good message that might just get through to people.
“Speaking professionally, we’ve benefited greatly from our competitors focusing on facts – like you can sell something that takes pages of 10-point type to explain! – and on the uncertainty inherent in any studies or models of something as complex as climate. I’m not seeing the sexy, here – people won’t read much past the first couple words, so those words better be ‘hope’ and ‘change’. But despite their failure to employ any high-end marketing talent (*ahem*) we can’t seem to loose them.
“So – follow me here – we have to work together not to give our opponents a stick to beat us with. We’ve successfully painted our competitors as loonies and stooges. We’ve managed to whistle past a decade and a half during which weather was distressingly normal and temperatures didn’t rise. Then we get Sandy like a freaking gift from Heaven – and you guys gotta follow that up with FLEETS OF AIRCRAFT FLYING 17,000 PEOPLE FROM AROUND THE WORLD TO QATAR!?! FOR A &%$#@ MEETING!?!
“Sorry. Anyway, you get the point here? No? We’re trying to keep a lid on this whole ‘power grab by a bunch of bureaucrats’ message our competitors occasionally put out, see, because that just might be a winner for them, and then you guys immediately do something that’s EXACTLY WHAT A BUNCH OF OUT OF TOUCH BUREAUCRATS would do. Not to mention BURNING A BAZILLION GALLONS OF FOSSIL FUEL to do it.
“Again, I apologize. But you guys heard of email? Skype? WebEx? The freaking *telephone*? Until we get this thing sold and funded, can you PLEASE just NOT have gigantic meetings in exotic locations you have to burn unimaginable quantities of fossil fuel to get to? People just might get the idea that all this belt-tightening and lifestyle downgrading we’re trying to sell only applies to little people, not to you.
“Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to do something about people posting videos of the 1938 Long Island Express – now, THAT was a hurricane!”