Communicating climate change – and other things

Two notes from a day of small ironies, and an anecdote re-told.

Small irony one: sitting down with the nice chap who was taking all the measurements for a survey for Refit West – designed to lead into informed choice about spending cash on making our leaky old house a more efficient user of heating energy. As we discussed why one might want to do this, it emerged that he (who had retrained specially for the job) had been having second thoughts about whether CO2 is really responsible for climate change. These stemming from the fact that  some people stand to make loadsamoney from carbon pricing, it could all be due to natural cycles of some kind, and you can’t trust the science because all scientists (yes, all) are in the pay of industry <sigh>

I let it go there, but I’m thinking some potential customers may become less keen on costly retrofitting projects in their homes if they drift into that conversation.

Small irony two. Talking to a science writer friend over lunch recalled David King and Gabrielle Walker’s good introduction to global warming The Hot Topic. It suddenly struck me again that King had just spent five years as government chief science adviser, explaining stuff like this to people in high places who really need to know about it. On leaving, though, he hooked up with a (very good) science writer, presumably to tell the story more effectively. Perhaps science advisers should work in tandem with science writers before they leave high office?

Anecdote repeat. Interesting chat from Stewart Brand (whose arresting new future-oriented book I reviewed in the Guardian the other week) at St George’s Bristol last night. He was on stage with Brian Eno, an old chum, who recalled making a comment to an audience in Australia to the effect that, perhaps, it was not always necessary to dismiss nuclear power out of hand, for ever. They hissed, apparently. The reaction from the less demonstrative folk of Bristol to Brand’s new born nuclear advocacy was quieter, though a few walked out muttering…  (including this chap, I think – he blogs at Forum for the Future, who as it happens are custodians of the aforesaid Refit West scheme, which I suppose is a third small irony, or just shows how cleverly this post is constructed). More seriously, both reactions suggest how hard the pragmatic case for nukes Brand wants to make will be to sell.

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