Okay, I like Rolling Stone. As a drummer, it’s kind of protocol. And James Lovelock is an interesting character – the very kind of fellow that I’d probably keep in good company were we of the same generation. I like those intelligent out-of-the-box types with big ideas. That said, I’m seriously not impressed with either in the November issue. Just check out the tagline of the Lovelock article:
“One of the most eminent scientists of our time says that global warming is irreversible — and that more than 6 billion people will perish by the end of the century.”
Sends a shiver down your spine and sucks you right in, no?
Now step back and say you wanna sell a couple million magazines or so… Here’s a novel idea:
3) Use illustrations about as creepy as the guy with the Tree tattoo on HBO’s canceled series ‘Carnivale’.
4) Include this kicker for the ending of the opening paragraph:
..the coming of the Four Horsemen — war, famine, pestilence and death — seems to perk him up. “It will be a dark time,” Lovelock admits. “But for those who survive, I suspect it will be rather exciting.”
[Quick, someone call Peter Jackson!]
More after the jump…
Now I can wax poetic on the faults of this approach, but I mean really Rolling Stone… are you kidding? Why promote him as the ‘Prophet’ of ‘The Coming Climate Disaster‘ on your cover? He’s certainly no Cassandra of Troy. Sure, he’s colorful, quirky, and has come up with all sorts of fascinating ideas… not to mention he’s positively charming in the photograph. But the way the article is framed paints such a dismal, depressing – and by the way unrealistic – portrayal of the future of life, that you’re sending the wrong message out loud and clear to be repeated around water coolers everywhere all month.
Rolling Stone has an enormous audience and I expect most aren’t picking up the scientific literature. We generally develop opinions and priorities based on the cultural portrayal of the state of things. A leading pop magazine has the capacity to do much good with far reaching influence and credibility. In the past, they’ve out some great articles on global warming and the environment so if they want to continue working to promote collective action toward a more promising future, I hope they’ll devote their pages to the real scoop… stories of hope from those on the ground engaged in conservation practice. Of course, I understand that may not necessarily sell as well.
We’re at a critical point in our planetary adolescence and must recognize there’s still a tremendous possibility to make things right. While entertaining, the Lovelock piece does more harm than good by suggesting it’s okay to give up. Eventually he does get around to admitting he may be wrong, but that’s easily lost in the story because articles are often not read in entirety. And what’s up with his claim that the loss of biodiversity on this planet has been overstated?! I’m not sure what planet is he’s thinking of, because Earth is losing species globally at an alarming rate.
Here’s what I am sure about. Lovelock’s opinion on the state of the planet – if he’s serious – is whimsical at best and completely absurd. He admits he likes science fiction and it sounds more like he’s been dreaming up his own outlandish ideas for contributing to that genre. The whole end-of-human-civilization theme would probably sell a lot of books…or magazines… hey, wait a second…
And so readers… just remember this is an entertainment publication and don’t believe the hype!