Newspapers obviously are available to the everyone. From someone who has been campaigning on climate change since the 80s, like a colleague of mine, to someone who only just heard the term last week. They might have voted for Obama, but they're like "whaddya mean climactic change? Global warming.. hey-l it was snowing here last week." .. and so on.
My latest take on it is that large chunks of the Australian and US citizenship are going through the classic stages of grieving. Take this quote:
Whenever one's identity and social order face the possibility of destruction, there is a natural tendency to feel angry, frustrated, helpless, and/or hurt. The volatile reactions of terror, hatred, resentment, and jealousy are often experienced as emotional manifestations of these feelings.from The Grieving Process by Michael R. Leming and George E. Dickinson
And you don't have to check out the links, as it's too depressing dear readers, but recent tell-it-as-it-is articles by NASA scientist James Hansen, and long time environmental commentator George Monbiot have attracted a wail of denial, attack, ridicule and defamation. I don't remember it being this vitriolic when I started on the issue.
Leading Climate Scientist: Democratic process isn't working (Hansen Interview 19 March)
Opportunity for 2 degrees lost (Canberra times, 23 March, reprinted from the Guardian)
The first one in particular attracted every single tired and disproved point from the denial camp that have all been carefully dismantled; some years ago.* (Btw.. it's clear that from about number 50-on the commentors are coming from the US, they talk about "our tax dollars.")
My mate who's been in this game longer says it's reflection of an anti-global warming campaign that has had a long time to work on its strategy and has been successfully selling doubt for about 10 years, and the efforts are now paying off.
Kind of weird for me, though, who worked in a fully government-funded department nine years ago, whose main remit was based entirely on the premise that global warming was real. Oh yeah, and quite bad for the economy. Back then, mind you, the preferred actions were education, PR and voluntary business programs rather than legislation. Maybe the risk of accepting the science wasn't so high.
And another thing - everyone I know personally is convinced to some degree, whether it is just to recycle when they didn't before (I know recycling has very little to do with climate but, hey at least it's acceptance that humans change their environment) to avoiding flying at all costs, to building low-energy homes, organising protests, or generally de-carbonising their whole life.
Since the turn of this century, the real science has gotten scarier, more urgent and some top scientists have broken ranks, going from simply analysts and predictors to urging strong action and even civil disobedience. Goodness.
But these days, it looks like all the cool kids post to blogs, with these angry, hurty and shouty messages. Hopefully it's an illusion. Perhaps web-zines, blogs, Youtube, etc, just attract a shouty minority of people. Perhaps the format lends itself better to flaming than to constructive discussion. Perhaps those who have read a paper more than once in their life and understand the basics of climate change just can't be bothered posting to say that the deniers are mad and bad. They spend that two minutes to sign an online petition for good solar tariffs instead. They are too busy changing the baby's cloth nappy and getting their gear on for the cycle to work to care.
I dunno. I hope so.
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* In case anyone else has the energy to ever patiently talk to someone in real life who really is undecided and has heard about sun-spots, mini-ice-ages, water vapour, etc... without raising your voice ... This website has a long list of answers: http://gristmill.grist.org/skeptics
Personally, I don't have the patience, I just screech "well when you are evacuating your million dollar-home due to flash flooding, don't come crying to me!". Because I'll be living in a hemp treehouse eating nothing but squid and lentils, with solar panels, a CB radio and a bike-pedal washing machine. Come the revolution. There's no room for you and your denier ass in my woven pandanus-leaf hammock.