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Dan Lashof’s Blog

"Those who doubt the existence of global warming are ignoring the train that's coming to hit us. It's coming, and it's our fault."

Dan Lashof

Posted October 21, 2013 in Solving Global Warming

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I received the following email from Will Hadley, an eighth grader who wants to help spread the word on climate change. He believes that the slogan quoted in the title of this post is the kind of sticky message that could create a “positive epidemic that gets more people involved in stopping global warming.” I have been working on this goal since before Will was born and I haven’t come up with an effective sticky message yet, so I figured it was time to give Will and his generation a shot. If you like this message please spread it and maybe it will push us over the tipping point and keep the train from hitting us. If you think you have a stickier message please post it as a comment or contact Will directly at the email he provides below (posted with permission).


Dear Mr. Lashof,

Hello, I am Will Hadley, an eighth grader at [] Junior High School. I think that the number of people who believe in and appreciate the seriousness of global climate change needs to be raised in order for humans to fully make progress towards a greener future. I think that I know a way to help with this. Some information on my proposal will help you decide if you would like to help me.

In my English class, we have been learning about positive epidemics as described by Malcolm Gladwell in his book, The Tipping Point. In the book, positive epidemics are described as good things or messages that spread rapidly among many people, much like real epidemics. Gladwell also tells us that there are three conditions that have to be right for the epidemic to form: “The law of the few” or the people involved in spreading the epidemic, “the stickiness factor” or the thing that is spreading and whether or not it “sticks” to people, and “the power of context” or the circumstances in which the epidemic forms. As a project, my class has decided to create our own positive epidemics to try to help fight against world problems. I chose climate change as my problem. According to The Guardian article “The new IPCC Climate Change Report makes Deniers Overheat”, 19% of people do not believe in global warming despite 95% of scientific research supporting the claim for human caused global warming. Even more people simply do not care about the climate. I believe that it would greatly aid the fight against climate change if everybody could agree that it’s happening, and that is what i’m trying to do here with this epidemic.

I am a big fan of your work with the NRDC and especially of your blog. On this blog, you often give proof of climate change and debunk deniers. I chose you to spread my epidemic for this reason. Your work relates to what I am trying to prove, and you could also help me to create the law of the few. You could spread my message to the people who could make it an epidemic. I have tried to create the stickiness factor myself by writing a simple, memorable, concrete slogan. My sticky message is “Those who doubt the existence of global warming are ignoring the train that’s coming to hit us. It’s coming, and it’s our fault.” It could not only convert some skeptics but might also convince everybody that global warming is a horrible problem. It could even just remind people to try to limit their carbon emissions. Hopefully, you could help me make a positive epidemic that gets more people involved in stopping global warming.

Thank you for taking the time to read this. I think that we need to start working on a cleaner future by lowering the number of global warming skeptics. It would be great if you used my “sticky message,” but I understand if you cannot.

If you would like more information, contact me at will.h.hadley@gmail.com

Sincerely,

Will Hadley

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Comments

Richard TreadgoldOct 22 2013 03:26 AM

Don't be silly. You don't want a slogan to convince people, you need evidence.

For example, show that temperatures are rising. Then (naturally!) show the simple link between those rising temperatures and human emissions. That would convince me. Would it convince you?

Of course, you have not done that. Nobody has done that. Now we have children saying: "I believe that it would greatly aid the fight against climate change if everybody could agree that it’s happening." How true.

But we don't all agree. How sad.

Do you think it might be because you have shown neither rising temperatures nor a link to human emissions? That you've forgotten about providing some evidence?

Cheers,

Richard Treadgold,
Convenor,
Climate Conversation Group

Janet GlatzOct 22 2013 09:22 AM

Dear Will,
I can't tell you how much I enjoyed your post. As an avid artist/activist for education regarding global warming, rising sea levels and endangered species, my goal is to get the word out, and you are helping tremendously! I hope you find the time to check out my site, as I think you'll enjoy it. Janet Glatz

Jan FreedOct 22 2013 11:55 AM

Yes, Will, your slogan is accurate, vivid, and pithy.

I am glad to share your idea with the Citizens Climate Lobby, a growing organization of concerned citizens who do not wish to roll the dice with our fate on this planet, the only one known to support life.

Adults take precautions with the people and things they love.

Wes HopperOct 22 2013 12:12 PM

I think your sticky message, or meme, is a really good one. It encapsulates the danger that we face that is now out of sight, but which will be very destructive if we don't act. I'll do my best to help spread it.

Congratulations on attracting a climate troll for the first comment. You know you're making a difference when you get their attention.

Christopher RothOct 22 2013 01:11 PM

Richard Treadgold … the truth is out there!

Temperatures are rising – 12 of the hottest years ever recorded have taken place in the last 15 years. Every decade has been hotter since the previous decade since the 1950s. These are recorded data measurements – they are facts.

Now you may be referencing the latest denial buzz in that there has been no recent warming. They draw this conclusion by cherry-picking the data – they look at one specific year (1998) and isolate their conclusion to surface temperature only. Yes 1998 was a very hot year (not as hot as 2005 or 2010 however). Regardless, scientists use anywhere from 12 -16 distinct lines of recorded evidence in global warming calculations. They involve such things as temperatures at various levels in the ocean, on land and in the atmosphere, as well as glacial and ice sheet melts, etc. Since the surface area of earth is primarily water that is where most of the heat is going (which most of the denial crowd have chosen not to consider in their conclusions).

As for the link between human activity and increased greenhouse gas concentrations, we have the ability to look at CO2 concentrations 800,000 years into the past. At no time during that period did CO2 concentrations exceed 300 parts per million. Then here comes the Industrial Age where we began to exploit fossil fuels for their energy content. In 1850, CO2 concentrations were around 280 PPM in May of this year they hit 400 PPM. Prior to 1850, it took 10,000 years to raise CO2 concentrations by 100 PPM. We were able to increase concentrations by 120 PPM in only 163 years. Coincidence? For us non-scientific folk, we’d call that linkage common sense. Climate scientists see human activity as the only plausible explanation. As documented in the IPCC’s most current assessment (Assessment Report 5) – “It is ‘extremely likely’ that human influence has been the dominant cause of observed warming since the mid-20th century.” “Extremely-likely” has a 95% certainty.

And it’s not just an undeniable majority of the scientific community (97% of all climate scientists, all of the National Academies of Science as well as every major Scientific Society in the field of climate study) that’s supports this consensus – it’s the Department of Defense and nearly every branch of the military, it’s 10,000s of businesses including the largest re-insurance companies in the world and its supported by climate declarations from nearly every major religion.

Louise StoningtonOct 22 2013 03:51 PM

We are on the train, and we have the ability to slow it down and then halt it. We need to reduce the use of energy with more efficient buildings and retrofit techniques. We need to switch from burning fossil fuels to using clean solar, wind, geothermal, batteries, smart grids and for power, and conserving forests and agricultural soils. Freedom for small business growth, increased exports and products, and self-sufficiency would reward us, as well as better health for ourselves and the planet. Has your school/church/business had an energy audit? Have you installed clean energy? Does your local newspaper still treat climate science like a debate or do they focus on the consensus science and needed solutions? When did you last ask an elected member of government to pass laws that reduce the favors being given to oil, coal and natural gas.
The oil, coal and natural gas industries are huge and wealthy, According to an internal memo, in the mid 1990s, they started paying media, scientists, lobbyists and public relations specialists to convince the American public and leaders that climate science is uncertain. No one wants to admit that they have been duped by advertisements. Citizens need to speak up and support the clean energy industry

G GrothOct 22 2013 08:00 PM

when humans are only responsible for roughly 5 percent of all co2 emissions what the hells a carbon tax going to do but line our useless government's pockets at the expense of peoples freedoms and the poors quality of life.

Dave BaldwinOct 28 2013 03:10 PM

Will,

Great message! I've been an activist since before you were born, and I've been to many meetings in which people tried to come up with slogans, and it's not often that we've come up with anything better! Keep it up! Don't worry about whether or not adults listen to you... Before long you and your classmates will be adults, and the adults who really matter, the politicians and business people, will HAVE to listen!

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Switchboard is the staff blog of the Natural Resources Defense Council, the nation’s most effective environmental group. For more about our work, including in-depth policy documents, action alerts and ways you can contribute, visit NRDC.org.

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