“I’m sorry … what?”: a visit to the Met Office Hadley Centre

The other day a friend and I took our young sons on a tour of the Met Office’s centre near Exeter. The Met Office is home to the Hadley Centre, one of the foremost centres where climate modelling and research into climate change takes place. It was to turn out to be an event I left both angry and puzzled, and with some reflections I’d like to share here. The tour itself is of little consequence to this piece, other than to say that it managed to turn what could have been really interesting hour’s tour into a fairly tedious 3 hours, and certainly not a tour designed to sustain children’s interest. The low point for me, however, was when we actually reached the Hadley Centre. So, picture the scene …

Climate change: the Fiesole example

Fiesole, a small town near Florence, Italy, is being affected by climate change just as every place on earth. Here, I report of an initiative to bring the problem to the citizens’ attention and motivate them to act on it. In this occasion, I tried to use some strategies that I took mainly from a document on climate change by Peter Sandman, a professional risk management expert. Among these strategies, Sandman suggests that you should tell the truth about the situation, but you should not try to make people feel guilty or scare them. You should emphasize concrete measures and actions that bring results which, in the case of climate change, means to consider mitigation as something just as important as prevention (and perhaps more). It is a test but, so far, it seems to be working in Fiesole. Here is an elaboration of the talk I gave at the meeting.

Strategies and policies for advancing the environmental agenda

Abstract. This post attempts to describe succinctly the relevant intellectual territory with respect to both macro and micro types of policies and strategies at both the national and the organizational levels. It also highlights similarities and differences between "policies" and "strategies". It does this to encourage those who are environmentally engaged to consider how their own environmental agendas could be advanced through the range of macro and micro policies and strategies identified, and their many variables. It also brings attention to some of the generic political and political economy obstacles which both policy-making and "strategy-making" actors and stakeholders typically face in the course of the complex and ongoing multi-actor processes of policy (or strategy) formulation, adoption, implementation and evaluation. An additional related objective is to provide an introduction and cursory review of the website "Cognitive Policy Works", identify some of the novel ways it works with policy-making actors and stakeholders, and bring attention to its excellent work on the "framing" of issues and the tacit "mental models" which may be in use.

A climate activist’s guide to moral worldviews

At the heart of the climate crisis is a profound clash of worldviews. People live in different ideological camps — beholden to their own beliefs, values, judgements, and ideas about the relationship between humans and the natural environment. The failure of climate activists to engage the broad public effectively is largely attributable to this great blind spot in climate communications by remaining ignorant of the central struggle to define reality in our moral terms.

Is MLK of Use to Us Now?

The main talent of Martin Luther King Jr., among many, was an ability to lift into wide awareness brutality and unfairness that a majority had been willing to ignore. The struggle for racial justice is not over (for example, the same Supreme Court that proclaimed the personhood of corporations is about to consider a challenge to the Voting Rights Act of 1965). But MLK helped lead the way to notable success.

Bittman, Beyoncé and Cool Memes

Mark Bittman, Food columnist for the New York Times and bon vivant travel franchise for public television, has made more than a few enemies for criticizing the choices celebrities make in their food and beverage endorsements. Said Bittman, “[Beyoncé] Knowles is renting her image to a product that may one day be ranked with cigarettes as a killer we were too slow to rein in.”