Warren Pearce is a Leverhulme Research Fellow on Making Science Public programme, University of Nottingham. Last week he had an article in the Guardian which came across as praise (faint praise admittedly) of the efforts of disinformation merchants. Thought it was a bit rich myself - as if they help us speed up the necessary transition to clean energy.
Today I see on his blog that he objects to using Hiroshima bombs to indicate the amount of energy that's accumulating on earth as we add carbon dioxide to the atmosphere. (Hiroshima bombs are used to indicate the size of earthquakes, for example.) Warren prefers the notion of a bath to indicate how much energy is being accumulated. He reckons expressing accumulating energy in terms of Hiroshima bombs is "catastrophic climate porn".
|Climate change is like a bubble bath...mmmm, lovely!|
Warren's argument is that people look out their window and think that if what they see is the equivalent to four Hiroshima bombs a second then four Hiroshima bombs a second can't be very bad. He writes:
If four Hiroshimas per second result only in an intangible, incremental risk, rather than an *actual* catastrophe equivalent to Hiroshima, one might reach the opposite conclusion from that intended: that the earth is actually quite resilient to such energy retention, and that four Hiroshimas per second isn’t anything to worry about.He suggests talking about a bath filling up and what will happen when the bath overflows.
I can't say I agree with him at all, but would be interested in what you think. I do think it's important to tailor the message to the audience. But when the audience is the general public, then I have no problem in telling it like it is.
To me Warren comes across as wanting to downplay the impact of climate change. In this particular blog article he comes across as a tone troll. It's also got me wondering how the hell he got his job. (He's a jack of all trades, listing himself as "Also research and teching (sic) teaching in climate change and local government policy. Trainer, writer, practitioner in data visualisation and presentations.")