Wednesday, May 7, 2014

First Impressions: Obama Climate Report Moving The Issue Forward?

On Tuesday, the Obama administration's big fat report on climate change landed, THUNK! on all us media scribes and blogs.  
Feeling the heat: Obama's latest climate change
report and action plan might actually drive
the debate on what to do about the crisis forward.  

Actually, at first glance at the thing, I'm kinda impressed.

I haven't had a chance to go through the whole thing yet, and I know the devil is in the details.  But Obama and his climate guys and gals got some things right.

First of all, the report seems to emphasize how climate change is affecting you, me, Joe Blow from Idaho and Polly From Peoria.

The report tries to avoid abstraction and emphasizes that climate change isn't a distant worry and maybe some day it will flood some island somewhere so who cares?

The emphasis from this is we're living it now, here's the proof and it's going to get worse.

Also, unlike the UN reports climate reports that come out every year or so, this one seems to be written in plain, everyday language. The parts I've seen are written in something of a conversational tone. I like that.

When you're talking about something the public needs to pay attention to, you can't blind them with science. Yes, it has to be scientifically based, but not many people have the patience to wade through academic abstracts. The people who wrote this report understand that.

I also like that the well-orchestrated release of the report, done on what turned out to be a slow-ish news day, meaning the major, mainstream media ran with this.

There are signs the media might be moving past the false debate rut it's been in, where every time they do something on climate change, they have to give a skeptic equal time to prove how "balanced" they are.

Kind of like having one scientist on saying the Earth is round and another saying it's flat, for the sake of balance.

The Obama report from Tuesday might push things along in the media a bit.

Now, can we please move the debate on how best to respond to climate change? There are signs the debate is starting. It's going to be a complicated one.  How best to respond to the myriad of threats posed by climate change?

What basic philosophy should underly these debates? Free market solutions? Grass roots?  Government programs?  International efforts?  Some complex mix of all of the above?

This will be difficult, to say the least, but I'm beginning to hope we are finally moving beyond the "maybe it's happening, maybe it's not" stupidity.  

I also like the fact that Obama summoned several TV meteorologists to the White House to discuss the climate report.

It's interesting that television meteorologists have been among the most skeptical groups regarding global warming.  The theory goes that computer models that forecast day to day weather are often wrong, so some television meteorologists assume the computer models that predict global climate change could be REALLY wrong.

Getting meteorologists into the thick of the climate change discussion is a wise move. Because people are familiar with TV meteorologists. We tend to like them. So they could become a good way of informing the public about climate change, whether something that happened locally is just normal weather, or could be tied to a changing climate.

Of course, the ever reliable Fox News had their own take on all this, as they always do. Fox's Dana Perino tried to goad the meteorologists to ask Obama about Benghazi rather than climate change.

(In Perino's defense, she said she was only joking, so we needn't get too exercised about this.)

In Fox world, the only thing happening is Benghazi. Like the Obama administration is the only one that may or may not have tried to do a political spin on an international crisis or problem.

However, I'm guessing Fox News will become a self-parody in the world of global warming. They will either ignore it, or mock it and Fox News fans will love it.

But they're a minority, and the rest of us, with the help of Obama's climate report, will roll up our sleeves and get to work on dealing with this big threat.

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