Why we’re not listening on climate change

Ian Perkins writes: Re. “A tough sell: can these spinners change your mind on climate change?” (Friday). I was involved in a climate change project with World Wildlife Fund looking at farmers’ observations and attitudes to climate change. We started by asking the farmers what they had seen and recorded over the last 50 years. (As you can probably imagine, many farmers keep excellent records and are very observant of changes to the weather, the climate and the behaviour of their crops and animals, streams, water storages, etc). We then compared the farmers’ observations with recorded scientific data. In most cases there was a close correlation; this information was fed back to the farmers and published as the Climate Witness project.

Based on that experience my recommendation for climate change education is to start with asking people about their own experiences and then finding creative ways to correlate this information with scientific data and feed it back at a community level. I have tried this using interactive theatre, and it has worked very well. Like a lot of things I think working at a local community level and working with what is there will deliver results.

Charles Coulton writes: The term “climate change” should be removed from use by those who hope to help the environment — it’s too tainted with controversy, and its meaning has become at least partially defined as a normal geological process (which of course it also is), and anthropogenic climate change is way too much of mouthful — nobody can really get behind something that you have to sound intelligent to even say out loud.

Instead it should the whole environmental debate should be re-framed and built upon the notion of sustainability. Don’t ever mention climate change again; talk about atmospheric sustainability  The point to make is that currently big business gets to pollute for free and cause damage to ours and our children’s health (estimated at $13/MWH for coal in Australia!) and call it an externality. So atmospheric pollution has costs that we’re already bearing — we could make these costs more obvious and evident and show that essentially we are already paying a big fat tax on our health and economic prosperity by letting companies produce these externalities without penalty. We live in an essentially closed system; there should be no room for any kind of externality.

Further, sustainability is something that almost everyone can intuitively understand the need for and has the further benefit that you cannot sound reasonable suggesting that we don’t need to be sustainable — it’s an argument that’s essentially irrefutable. Our goal as a society should be a completely environmentally and economically sustainable economy — currently it’s a perhaps utopian dream, but we have the technology, we just also have a few too many entrenched and powerful interests holding us back.

Keith Binns writes: The ad that should be run is of an old Liberal voting male pushing his granddaughter on a swing. He should say: “I’m not sure about climate change, but I’m not willing to risk her future. So, we should act. What have we got to lose?”

Climate change deniers are racking up bills for their grandchildren to pay. Run a campaign saying that they don’t love their grandchildren.

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