date: Sat, 21 Feb 2004...
I think this is a real problem, and I agree with Nick that climate change might be a better labelling than global warming...Therefore a central message probably has to be that humans are now interfering with extremely large and heavy global systems, of which we know relatively little: we are in a totally new situation for the human species, and our impact added to all the natural variations that exist risks to unsettle subtle balances and create tensions within the systems which might also lead to "flip-over" effects with short-term consequences that might be very dangerous.
And then, the good old precautionary principle must be guiding our effort. During the cold war, enormous resources were put into missiles, airplanes, and other military equipment to check Soviet expansion and make containment policy credible - in the firm hope that all this equipment would never have to be used. And it wasn't, and nobody complained about the costs. Now, in the face of a different, but clearly distinguishable global threat "more dangerous than terrorism" the cost issue surfaces all the time. Somehow we all need to help in creating an understanding that the threat of global change is real and that we need to develop a new paradigm of looking at the world and the future: this is not just a scientific or technological issue. It involves important philosophical and ethical considerations where some fundamental value systems have to be challenged.
-----Original Message----- From: Asher Minns...
FWD: Abrupt Climate Change
In my experience, global warming freezing is already a bit of a public relations problem with the media, which can become public perception.---
I think the notion of telling the public to prepare for both global warming and an ice age at the same creates a real public relations problem for us....The message regarding the lesson of the THC should NOT be "global warming will cause an ice age." The message should be one about year to year or
decadal variability, and the way alternation of cold years/decades/centurys with very hot ones will exacerbate the problem of adaptation. Imagine a decade of torrid heat, thirty years of pretty good climate, fifty years of early frosts, a century of drought, twenty years of flood -- that's the kind of thing we need to worry about, not the simple "icebergs in the Thames" scenario. [Ray Pierrehumbert?]