Climate: How do we tell this story powerfully?
Dave Roberts has a problem with the reaction to the revelation that Mike Daisey rewrote the truth in now infamous anti-Apple story.
He thinks the moralizing journos at the NY Times sound a bit self-satisfied:
It’s a weird and naive notion that there is a bright line between objective and subjective, fact and opinion, reality and narrative. Post-war journalism in the U.S. has been besotted with this kind of technocratic positivism, the notion that a reporter’s job is to convey facts and that anything else is personal opinion, bias, or outright deception.
But facts are not truth. Facts do not, in and of themselves, have meaning. Facts only add up to something — literally make sense — when they are embedded in some kind of framework or narrative that fits into our cultural identities and ways of seeing the world. That’s how humans are built to learn, going back to the Stone Age. So “telling a greater truth” is a thing of real value, not some theatrical pretense.
Then he has to bring up climate:
One of the striking things about climate change is that majorities of Americans accept it, on some level or other, but it is those who reject it, largely in the conservative base, who display the most intensity. They’re the ones who call their representatives and go to town halls and write letters to the editor and get in a reactionary fury over f’ing light bulbs. Why is that? One reason is that conservatives have been told a story. They have not been given science lectures by Al Gore and James Hansen, instructed on ocean pH and ice sheet volumes and parts per million of CO2. They’ve been told by their media outlets, analysts, and politicians what climate change means: It is part of the liberal plan to control your behavior and expand government. It is elite condescension, high taxes, and global governance. That’s a story that carries great emotional resonance for its audience.
No story so powerful has been told to those who know climate change is real, he suggests.
In 2020, my son will be 9. Due to inertia in the climate system, not much will have changed, although I imagine that extreme weather events, crop failures and water shortages will be more directly attributed to climate change. Will the stories on the news keep my son awake at night? If they do, I will hug him tight and tell him everything is all right – that the adults of the world are working as hard as they can to fix the problems. Will I be telling the truth?
It's painful, but feels real. I guess that's my problem with the Daisey revelations. Daisey to me seems wierdly thrilled by the pain he claims to have witnessed. It's a strange, unsettling performance.
Yet still: How could we be aroused to such emotion by climate change?