So, about this “Friday is Hug a Climate Scientist Day” thing.
I’m not sure the jokey “hug” meme is a proper or effective response to the death threat stuff that has presumably inspired it.
I think it should be “Get Bolt and Abbott and the other clowns to repudiate the use of moronic anti-science rhetoric publicly and repeatedly” Day, and Saturday could be “Have Bolt and Abbott and the other clowns publicly and repeatedly describe anyone who sends abusive emails etc to climate scientists, let alone death threats, as an embarrassment to bipeds everywhere” Day. (The titles may need some refinement, it’s true.)
I *ALSO* think that practical solidarity with climate scientists looks a bit different than what is presumably going to be a blizzard of tweets and feel-good photo opportunities.
Practical solidarity looks like, IMHO
- becoming effective climate activists, who innovate instead of repeat dinosaur formats (rallies, marches), and who have up-to-date websites instead of embarrassingly ugly and usually out-of-date ones, who reflect on how the movement can grow, learn, organise and win, and implement those ideas, instead of whining about climate deniers and the government and big business all the time.
- skilling up on science communication so that it isn’t left just to scientists to communicate this stuff. They are busy, and it’s not their skill-set.
- skilling up so become able to read the actual scientific papers themselves and then convert them into “English” (or French, Mandarin, whatever)
- skilling up on the use of youtube and powerpoint etc to help people who think that the science is too hard to understand (it isn’t) to understand it, to the level that matters to them
- thinking beyond the next march or rally or protest about the weakness/strength of this or that legislation, and having a strategic vision
- learning to ignore climate trolls, especially the ones who start out all aggressive and sneery and then when you call them out on that adopt a victim/more conciliatory “you might learn something” line (it’s a variation of concern-trolling).
What do other people think?
P.S. Has anyone asked these climate scientists what – while we are all waiting for the denialists developing a conscience and a cerebral cortex- THEY would like to see the climate activist movement do?
EDIT at 3.30pm, 7/6/11: I picked this thing up via some tweets, which on second look have lead back to a funny cartoon at Crikey. I am sure the cartoonist, “Firstdog,” is NOT trying to create an opportunity for feel-good do-nothingness, and that he/she is very interested in what practical solidarity would actually look like (and I appreciate that question doesn’t make for a funny cartoon, which is what their job involves!).
UPDATE: I’ve sent out requests for statements from real climate scientists (I know a few) about what they would find useful in terms of practical solidarity. Have already had this brilliant reply –
The most rewarding thing for a climate scientist, in my view, is to see our long hours of hard, heading-bashing and often depressing research and associated outputs taken forward through effective, clear but not dumbed-down communication into appropriate issue-focused debates.
There is significant pressure on us to score well for our institutions by publishing in high impact journals, which makes communication through more accessible, interdisciplinary journals or material for policymakers and lay public, less common and less valued by our peers. Also, in many cases, we are not great communicators, and the visibilty of our work, which we do after all to contribute to relevant debates, is vastly enhanced by those people who are trained or train themselves to turn academic jargon into a more accessible and visible form.
Perhaps those already demonstrating the drive to motivate and faciliate the debates could take more advantage of training opportunities or learning by doing to further compliment our incremental and sometimes rather inaccessible work. I somehow feel that it will do more good than a hug-and pleased to report that I don’t need to seek out strangers for one if I need one.