Participating at SWSX Eco got me thinking again about how we engage people in the climate / energy challenge. I don’t mean the small percentage of committed greens or sceptics at either end of the spectrum. We are talking here about the man and woman on the street – the majority who we need to engage to support, rather than block, the transition to a low or zero-carbon future.
Mistakes are easily made, especially with abstract data. Visuals can sometimes bring new insights - even to those most familiar with the figures; and the integrity of communications can be aided by a fresh pair of eyes.
This is the strap-line on the feature about our visuals in the current edition of Conservation magazine published by The University of Washington. Rather than a play on words there is a depth to this phrase that is about a pivotal point in each person’s comprehension of climate change.
Human induced climate change is claimed to be the greatest challenge of the 21st century. But man-made carbon emissions continue to rise - the 400ppm carbon milestone causes barely a ripple. I am intrigued as to why, in society at large, there is little grass roots support, no loud and clear call for action to address this issue.
The people charged with driving down emissions are often specialists with expertise in engineering, systems and measurements. But when it involves getting other people to change, the way forward can be less than obvious. Something more than data is needed.
The number and mixture of comments that we have received since releasing the New York Emissions film through You Tube, Twitter and email has been really useful as a means of assessing its impact. And generally aiding us in best understanding how visuals can really help.