Greg Craven, of youtube fame (google him), gave a speech, or more accurately, a rant, at the AGU conference in December about becoming more effective at communicating Climate Science to the public. Once he arrived onstage, Craven changed from his planned topic.
In a nutshell, he said climate scientists should stop trying to present climate change "scientifically" and start talking about it PASSIONATELY- as in, "if we don't do anything now, we are screwed!".
Essentially, take the "Glenn Beck" emotional approach - but using science to back it up.
Here is the first paragraph from Craven's rant:
"This is not a talk. This is a primal scream. For help. For salvation. For the lives of my children. And I will not apologize. I will not yield. I will charge the stage and scream my message if I must. I am in the zone. I am over the edge. I am gone. I am enlightened. I am maniacal. I am insane. I am terrified at what I have just become. All of my life has been to serve this single moment. And you may need to forcibly remove me to the hospital, screaming like a madman. But you will not stop me. For I have revelation to bring."
Further on, he says:
"The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. And I'm sorry you have to hear this, but it's best to come from a friend. You have become insane. You have brought them information when they needed emotion. What you must bring them now, as a citizen, as a father, as a mother, as an aunt, as a grandparent, who knows better than anyone else what the physical world will bring in the future, you must give them yourself.
I follow a number of climate science blogs and found more than a few climate scientists that agree with Craven - both on the impact of climate change, and the need to ratchet up, WAAY UP, the communication efforts - Get Fired Up!.
I am not a scientist, but I do read about climate science and stay up to date through the blogs/podcasts that I follow.
For some people, Craven is correct. Those people react best to emotional context. There is another contingent that are turned off by emotional presentations. Good science has little to do with politics, and Craven is discussing politics, not science.
Is man made (i.e. anthropomorphic) climate change really as ominous as as Craven suggests?
I don't know. A majority of those who have studied the data seem to believe it is a very serious problem.
Nevertheless, I find myself skeptical because of analogous "sky is falling" situations in the past that have happily simply dissipated. (One example, in the 1950s most scientific organizations, including the National Science Foundation, agreed that a population crisis was certain within the next 25-40 years, there being no way that massive famine could be avoided. Then the Monsanto introduction of triploid rice increased the worlds grain production by a factor of 2.5x in a period of 10 years!).
Skeptical though I am, if forced I have to go with the majority who are expert in the field - because skepticism is an emotion, driven by gut instead of cerebral cortex.
Crystal Balls remain rather cloudy, even in today's world of 8 core CPUs.
Do you think the NSF population/famine prediction of the 50's is an equivalent comparison to scientific consensus on climate change today? Would you not tend to give today's doomsday predictions more credibility to those of 60 years ago?
I get that we can not be sure about the consequences of climate change (although I could argue that we can by VERY sure that we will have climate change - it's called physics), but should we not at least take out a modicum of insurance to limit the potentital for catastrophe?
Emotional rants tend to be appropriate to the Glenn Beck diminishing audience but I don't think they have legs with people that actually think.
The general population and (maybe) the political “leaders” will react when, and only when, the shit hits the fan (if it does). Our ability to believe that disasters won't happen so there is no need to prepare will bite us in the ass – as it has done before.