Sunday, April 29, 2012

Coming soon on NCTV: an episode on upcoming Connect The Dots event and its climate context

Lew, Richard and I were guests for an Occupy Nevada County TV episode publicizing our upcoming local Connect the Dots May 5 event and climate change; we filmed it this morning.
(Post edited/updated Sunday eve.)

It was my first experience in front of a video camera and to say I wasn't looking forward to it would be a serious understatement. But our climate organizing group is a wonderful (and much-treasured) bunch of people, so despite an ocean of trepidations I did step up to the plate for this, and despite intense second-thought early-morning misgivings, I did follow through.

Some personal reflections:

There's nothing like video to expose your annoying mannerisms and sins of gluttony; there's a kind of horrified fascination, in the out-of-body experience of watching yourself for the first time.  (I wish I'd done a 5-minute test video ahead of time, so I could see what to look out for and then prepare.)

But the talking with Richard and Lew was good, and I might even look forward to more, though with improvements.  How do you foster a normal dynamic, energetic discussion give-and-take, when each  person speaking is talking to the camera?  (IMO our best discussion came before the filming - the staged/filmed part was far more sedate. )  When your fellow guest is speaking, how do you let him (or her) know when you'd like to introject a comment, in a way that's not intrusive?  (Without this awareness, people tend to speak in paragraphs, or to yield the floor when no one else has anything to say.)

Speaking more substantively, how important - and feasible - is it, for discussants holding initially disparate views to reach a consensus on prioritizing effective solutions?*
Lew and Richard favored devoting a high[er than mine] % of efforts to personal carbon footprint action (saying the answer was "we need both" personal and policy action), where I feared (but see below**) that this message becomes a distraction that opens the door to "Al Gore's House" type objections & diversions, particularly since all of us fall short at one time or another.  (Yes, my house isn't insulated as well as it should be; yes, sometimes I buy coffee in a disposable cup or fail to use my reusable grocery bags, and sometimes I speed, or fail to plan and thus drive a much longer distance than necessary.   But that doesn't change the findings and projections from atmospheric physics, and it doesn't change the fact that to solve this problem, the crucial thing to do is to to price the externalities, to make polluters pay, to put a price on carbon.  (Speaking of which, ask me how to make $1500 and get clean air.))

To tackle climate change, we need for the economic incentives to match the "solve-the-problem" incentives.  Without that, our personal actions are pretty much acts of charity for the planet.

** Update: I rethought this, and have shifted my views more towards Lew and Richard.

Among other comments, Lew provided the science and Richard noted all the disparate organizations and interests that accept it.  Some themes I tried to get across were:

Implications of uncertainty: it cuts both ways, and it's not an argument for inaction - we need to act on incomplete information.

Crises have long roots, they're a long time in developing; good leaders tackle them before they become crises.

Estimated cost to tackle global warming: 1-2% of GDP.
( I forgot to put forth the "flipped" hypothetical, "what if you could be 1-2% richer, if only you were willing to risk the oceans, the future of agriculture, kids' health, etc - would you do it?")

Richard Alley: it's doable, the sun gives us way more energy than we need.   The effort's equivalent in scale/cost to the historic city public sanitation projects; we decided to stop dumping human waste out of 12th story windows, and our world is safer and more pleasant for this change.

Let's be good ancestors.

* FYI, Bill McKibben's past advice on the top actions to take to fight climate change was:  "the number one thing is to organize politically; number two, do some political organizing; number three, get together with your neighbors and organize; and then if you have energy left over from all of that, change the light bulb."   He may have changed his views somewhat though; people do.
(And FWIW, the other guests have done plenty, in this area.)

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