It's Gettin HOT In Herre!

Another global warming PSA produced by Environmental Defense in conjunction with the Ad Council. Is this a message that resonates with the readers? I expect what's alarmist to some will be poignant to others. But what I can say with certainty is that climate change will be a paramount issue in the 2008 presidential election. Consider The New York Times special politics section that highlights candidates' positions as the coming attractions of what we'll be hearing, reading, debating, and pondering over the next twelve months...

A growing environmental awareness among Americans has brought the issue to the forefront of the 2008 presidential campaign. Both Republican and Democratic candidates have been asked to explain their stance on global warming during the debates and on the campaign trail. Most of the Democrats say the United States should lead the global effort to curb greenhouse emissions and advocate federally mandated emission laws. The Republicans, many of whom are unsure about the human role in climate change, tend to emphasize energy independence and efficiency.

And as for me, I'm looking forward to our planetary fever finally getting the attention it deserves because this isn't a passing human conflict, sexual indiscretion, or some other headline grabbing sexy topic of the moment. Climate change is the biggest challenge we face yet - not just as a nation - but as our collective global society. Fasten your seat belts, because environmentally and politically, It's Gettin HOT in Herre!


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Speaking locally, today's News & Observer has the stupidest op-ed by the nastiest local columnist, using silliest Lomborg arguments: Warming isn't our No. 1 woe! Grrrr! Anyone want to write letters?

Do I really need to point out the intellectual dishonesty and demagoguery of having sad faced little children making overly emotional, not to mention scientifically unsupportable, statements designed to inspire fear and guilt?

I suppose anything goes once you rationalize that propaganda is really just "framing" if it is designed to accomplish what you see as a legitimate goal.

The extreme environmentalist, like any other extremist, has no shame or moral conscience. The cause supersedes all.

At least they didn't run the tikes over with a train this time.

Whether it is alarmist or not, I think an ad like this is not necessary if, as the New York Times states, global warming is already at the political forefront.

Now that we have voters' attention on the issue, it is time to present real science and policy considerations. Lay out the plausible scenarios with emphasis on (1) the changes that are already locked in; (2) the additional changes that we face if we continue business as usual; (3) the global economic and geopolitical impact of not changing our behavior; (4) the various approaches -- liberal, conservative, and in-between -- that offer a way out of the difficulties ahead.

I think most people realize that we are burdening (and gifting) our children and grandchildren with the consequences of our behavior, just as we are living in a world that was shaped in large part by our parents and grandparents.

Now let's focus on what needs to be done and not worry about the minority who still deny that we need to act urgently on global warming. We no longer need "tick, tick, tick... BOOM" messages to grab people's attention.

As I noted in another comment, I'd love to stick around and read reactions in "real time," but I have a book to write. I'll be back tomorrow or the next day.

This should be the official Global Warming theme song.

I like how you use music to make issues relevant to normal people like me. So many scientists are totally out of touch with culture.

Thanks for sharing our ad! The purpose of this specific spot is to heighten the urgency of dealing with global warming -- many people still don't realize how little time we have left to act.

Just so it's clear, the ad was produced with the advice of several climate scientists. The full documentation for the statements the kids make can be found on our web site:

You also might find useful this 5-part series of posts on how scientists reached the conclusion that humans are causing climate change:…

And again, thanks for posting the ad.

Climate change is NOT our biggest challenge. The exhaustion of petroleum is. Starting from the day the first gas station will post a "no gas" sign, nothing else will matter in the civilized world.

Ironically, "peak oil" implies that the Kyoto targets will be met within 20 years, whether we want it or not, because there will be less oil to burn. How will the hot Earth crusaders fly their personal jets?

I agree with EM that climate change is not our biggest challenge. Stated in that unqualified way, I'd counter that tempering our human propensity for selfishness is our biggest challenge.

OK, that's not the sort of challenge people have in mind. Still, I'd say that climate change isn't even our biggest environmental challenge. That "honor" should go to the continuing destruction of natural habitats (which now seems poised to kick into overdrive as we devote yet more land area to agriculture -- in the name of biofuels; in the name of the environment -- for shame!).

By bob koepp (not verified) on 10 Oct 2007 #permalink

tempering our human propensity for selfishness is our biggest challenge

Interesting and perhaps not far off the mark.

that "honor" should go to the continuing destruction of natural habitats

This reminds me of Daniel Quinn's Ishmael.

I don't think any of these are mutually exclusive in the big picture. Good points by bob koepp and EM.

Sam, too many folks seem to disassociate science from culture which ultimately undermines progress. Science is indeed relevant in a myriad of ways to our daily lives and I think more of us are beginning to recognize that. And you know... music makes the people come together - in this example Madonna and Ali G ;)

Honestly. Are these people at E.D. totally disconnected from popular culture or are their brains stuck back in the 70's. Using children like this is more than annoying and manipulative, it's just plain out of date and ineffective. There are PSAs that can make people believe in your cause, there are PSAs that can make people just yawn, and there are PSAs that make people actively dislike you. They have chosen the third option. Which perhaps isn't surprising for a group whose letters stand for Erectile Dysfunction. Lance pretty much nails it above.

Thanks. Not too good at that.

By Eric the Leaf (not verified) on 10 Oct 2007 #permalink

EM is correct about peak oil being the most immediate and significant threat, which is part of a bigger notion that growth (the lifeblood of modern society) is unsustainable in the context of finite resources, namely hydrocarbons, other minerals, fresh water, and topsoil. Sustainable growth, a current jargon, is an oxymoron.

Put simply, the human population has overshot the carrying capacity of the earth. That's the real message of Ishmael, which is one of my favorite books, even though the anthropology is suspect. The idea is carried even further in The Story of B. Somehow it is reassuring to know that humans follow, and are subject to, the same laws that govern other organisms. Are we smarter than yeast? Possibly not.

EM overstates the case for CO2 emissions. Nearly half of the 40 IPCC model scenarios assume that oil consumption will be equal to or greater in 2100 than in 2000, which is of course absurd. Thus EM is absolutley correct that temperature rise associated with CO2 emissions is overestimated by the IPCC with regard to petroleum. In fact the contribution to temperature change will ultimately be fairly insignificant. On that count EM is correct.

The culprit is coal.

"The greatest shortcoming of the human race is our inability to understand the exponential function."

--Albert Bartlett

By Eric the Leaf (not verified) on 10 Oct 2007 #permalink