Von Steuben training Continental troops in Valley Forge PA. Image credit:National Archives.
Two Thousand Ten may well be looked back upon as the year US climate activists and published climate scientists lost their metaphorical Battle of Brandywine, and as the year in which it sunk in that recycling and frugal lifestyles and better design could not hold the lines, as a new class of broadcast media and internet-based Inquisitors overran them on several fronts. Still in retreat, climate continentals have as yet found no Valley Forge in which to encamp and no Von Steuben to help with training. It might now seem that only a leader of heroic military or religious stature would be capable of leading the United States from cable TV-induced stupor. I have a different thesis.It took a decade or more for broadcast and print media to mislead the citizenry about climate science - whether by intent or by general lameness hardly matters - and the fix can only come from the same source: mass media. Consider the context.
Less than one third, approximately, of US adults have a bachelors degree.
Most of us are winging it.
Only a portion of all bachelors degrees are in the sciences, and, of course, an even smaller fraction got their bachelors degree in the 'hard sciences' (chemistry, physics, engineering, etc.).
Many of those who currently pursue advanced degrees in the hard sciences in US universities - specializing in subjects essential to understanding climate dynamics - are foreign citizens here on a student visa.
Government paralysis seems unbreakable.
If Congress were trusted, and took their cue from enlightened and open-minded advisers, the science education deficit would perhaps be less of a problem. But, US political life is currently quite the opposite. Government trust is at an all time low and Think Tanks, crackpots, and lobbyists rule.
The remarkably progressive 'lame duck' Congress of 2010 is ignoring climate. No one expects there to be any progress next year, what with the entire Republican caucus in lock step denial.
'Climate Gate', then 'Wikileaks' - what's next?
For climate activists, there can only be one strategic choice left: to do whatever is possible to help broadcast and print media draw advertising revenues with insightful coverage of science and public policy. If that can't happen, exciting and honest stories will have to develop by other means.
Anyone care to speculate what's coming?
Related post: see Matt's insightful Is the Wikileaks Saga the Biggest Crypto-Environmental Story of 2010?