Reconciling Clean Energy and Climate Denialism

Posted on October 19, 2010. Filed under: News | Tags: , , , , |

A story in yesterday’s New York Times reported on how a group of towns in central Kansas are embracing clean energy, despite the fact that its residents do not feel much affinity for the whole “campaign to fight global warming”.  I found the story fascinating, because it touched upon the very root of what is preventing the environmental lobby from achieving mass-success (in getting positive legislation passed, in garnering majority public support, and in swaying long-term private and policy planning).

The sobering reality is that in spite of hundreds of documented and substantiated scientific studies showing that human action (specifically the increase in carbon-trapping emissions) has had a measurable effect on global climate, there is a very large portion of the population that either does not believe or care to act.  But like all big-ticket issues, the real skill is in packaging and tailoring the topic to your specific audience.  For the already convinced, images of melting glaciers, vast droughts, and flash floods have done the trick.  But for swaths of America (as well as other places) where the war on climate change is not of preeminent concern, simply extricating energy issues from the charged arena of climate politics achieved the same effect.

By focusing on issues of thrift (ability to save money with renewable energy), patriotism (decrease reliance on imported energy), spiritual conviction (good stewards of the land) and economic prosperity (green jobs), Kansas based Climate and Energy Project found that it could rally residents of otherwise conservative Kansas to take meaningful steps to conserve energy and consider renewable fuels.

There’s nothing like sensible pragmatism to achieve grander goals.

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