It’s Not All Science

  1. Though Americans make up just 4 percent of the world’s population, we produce 25 percent of the carbon dioxide pollution from fossil-fuel burning — by far the largest share of any country.
  2. Since 1870, global sea levels have risen by about 8 inches.
  3. According to the U.S. Global Change Research Program, the temperature in the U.S. has increased by 2 degrees in the last 50 years and precipitation has increased by 5%.
  4. Each year of the 21st century is among the hottest in history.Slide23
  5. According to IPCC 2007 report, sea levels will rise by 7-23 inches by the end of this century due to global warming.
  6. By the end of the century, around 150,000 people will have died of heat related causes.

These statistics are horrifying… yes. So horrifying it makes a reader just want to shut down, thinking that there is little that can be done to actually effect change. Too often I find the conversation about the environment surrounds statistics like this, simplified for the average joe shom to understand. But in attempting to express the seriousness of the matter, scientists and advocates fail to connect with the average person.

Spewing facts and figures at me does not affect change. An advocate needs to spur an connection for me between me and an issue. So how do we make a connection? Emotion

I want to be shown what the result of sea levels rising by 7-23 inches by the end of this century due to global warming.

This video while it comes close to forming the emotion connection it still falls short. While I agree with Hank Green in that the secret to being green is understanding but emotional understanding is equally important to spurring change.

For me, science facts do not help me connect with the environment, what does help me connect with the issue of Global Warming is imaging the beauty of the outdoors being soiled by my own selfish actions.

I’m an avid biker and whether or not the weather is good, I enjoy taking recreational bike rides. As I spend my time largely at the business building, I frequently take my wonderful bike rides in arboretum.


The arboretum is a beautiful place… simply stunning in it’s simplicity and wonder.

Why would I want to live in a world that I may not be able to enjoy the beautiful wonder of the arboretum and demonstrations of nature similar to the arboretum? I wouldn’t. I am emotionally connected to the arboretum and the nature that love to observe while I am on my daily bike rides and that is how I have become connected to the environment.

Studies have shown that “fifty percent of every buying decision is driven by emotion” which demonstrates that our actions are truly connected with our emotions.

So what can we do? We need to re-frame the conversation. Environmental advocates and politician must approach the public with a sensitivity to what helps consumers make decisions… emotions.

I would like an environmental advocate to help me connect the reality of global warming and increasing CO2 levels with imaginable real world effects. This is how we will impact real change.

EXAMPLE: Below is a clip of an article taken from the article: Climate Change will ruin Hawaii

  • “Higher average temperatures, stressing native animals and plants and causing an uptick in heat-related illnesses in people (think dengue fever or cholera), as well as a higher concentration of invasive species;
  • A decrease in trade winds, which would disrupt the rainfall patterns across each of the islands and create periods of drought and heavy rain and flooding;
  • Warmer oceans and higher ocean acidity, which could trigger massive coral bleaching, marine migration, and affect the ocean’s circulation and the way it distributes nutrients.

Perhaps the most obvious change around the state will be the rise in sea levels, which have risen about 0.5-1.3 inches per decade throughout the last 100 years. The study projects this rate to accelerate, resulting in a 1-foot to 3-foot rise (or possibly more) by 2100.

That would mean most of Waikiki and its famous beach would either be underwater or highly eroded by it. The animation above, taken from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Sea Level Rise and Coastal Flooding Viewer, shows what sea levels would look like around Waikiki and Honolulu in a worst case scenario: if sea levels rose 6 feet. The new shoreline would be almost a full mile inland (past the Waikiki hotel strip and into neighborhoods such as Kakaako, downtown Honolulu, and even Moiliili). Such a scenario would impact hotel revenues by as much as $661.2 million, with a scary $2 billion lost overall, each year.”

Blah blah blah. I want to see passion. As a consumer I don’t really care that hotel revenues will be impacted…. I want to see powerful rhetorical descriptions of how this incredibly popular and beautiful site in Hawaii would be destroyed and how the memories of millions of people’s honeymoons would be erased by the excessive carbon use of the United States.

Strong emotional rhetoric is the clear path to environmental change.

-Keep it Green

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