Why fight about Climate Change when we can have fun solving the problems instead?

This blog post was inspired by Sunday's sermon at Hillsong Church from a guest pastor from Australia. He opened with a piece of social science about object permanence, and a couple anecdotes about playing peek-a-boo with his kids and such. Then he said that God does the same for us in life, with faith, so keep walking (aka keep shipping content). Then, he took us to Exodus in the Bible where Moses was leading the Israelites to escape, and the worried complaints along the way second guessing whether it would have been better to be a slave to Pharaoh than die in the desert. Walking by faith requires: courage, action, and vision. You have to take risk and venture into the unknown. You have to take action; big actions are great for a moving experience, but committing to consistent small steps are usually more sustainable. See beyond the current circumstances. Also, he dropped a joke in there that maza bread was like ancient tortillas. lol, he meant Mexican tortillas, not Spanish tortillas. True story: my grandparent's first day in the USA they learned the difference the hard way when they went to a restaurant in Los Angeles and ordered one tortilla to feed a family of 4. 😂😂😂 And then my grandfather made friends with the chef in the back and taught him how to make Spanish tortilla.😂😂😂

What does that have to do with fighting about Climate Change and having fun?

Well... my Google analytics shows about 100 people have read my last cheeky titled post, "Should Democrats Apologize for Slowing Progress on Climate Change?" I've talked to a few friends about this, and they all agreed that if my goal was to be provocative, then mission accomplished. 😜 They also thought it was hilarious, that I seemed like I was having way too much fun writing this, that their first instinct was to share it, but then they didn't because "backlash would be ridiculous." To which I reply:

... and ocean acidifaction, rising sea levels, destructive super storms, 54 °C (129°F) heat waves, ISIS
...and spending the majority of our waking hours in miserable hostile work environments.

You can't laugh and be afraid at the same time. =) If you find yourself unable to laugh, then your problem is not what you think it is. Your problem is in the mirror.

Fear. Fear. Fear. Are you slowly dying in a fear-based work environment?

Aren't climate scientists supposed to be raising public awareness about climate change? Doesn't that mean engaging skeptics? It was a bi-partisan effort 10 years ago when I got started in this space in Silicon Valley. Inclusive problem solving. Remember that time Al Gore and the IPCC won a Nobel Peace Prize for their work on raising CC awareness? When I asked former Under Secretary of Energy, Kristina Johnson -- at the national Cleantech Open event in 2010 -- if there was anything I should emphasize in my graduate studies, she said, "economics, study economics, everything in Washington is about economics." When I asked Darren Springer, Senior Legislative Assistant for Energy and Environment in Senator Sanders' office in 2011, when I was lobbying on the hill for States' rights to incentivize more sustainable infrastructure development with the CLEAN Coalition, he said, "science is always present in the conversation, but 9/10 times decisions are made for business reasons." When I was working on a new bill he said, it better be bi-partisan or it's not going anywhere. I mean, there's always been bickering. My favorite was witnessing environmentalists debate environmentalists till 2am in Palo Alto City Hall about making a bio-waste energy plant on reserved parkland. But sadly, over the last decade, I've slowly seen the attitudes shift from inclusive problem solving to exclusive antagonizing. When I looked for communications that engage people who vote in Republican primaries, with impact and empathy, I didn't see any. Apparently Katharine Hayhoe is doing a good job engaging faith based communities. But, what about the more crass gun-toting types -- who would actually go to war and die for the rest of us? 'Murica! (Have a little respect people, come on.) Well, I've been dabbling in making content that appeals to them. (Like blue-collar comedy and roasting -- there's a big difference between irate name-calling, and creative story telling with a bit of well-timed-profanity-seasoning to emphasize certain points!) Former head of the EPA Gina McCarthy said at the 2018 Climate Leadership Conference, that young people should "speak about what you think the world ought to look like." That's what I did in last week's (comically provocative) blog post, that's what I'm doing again in this (more mellow) post, and that's what I've been doing in my formal research as well.

Remember that time when the sexiest man in America was 
a short Chinese immigrant with a thick accent?

It's called being a cross-functional change agent, having range as an actor/communicator, and not being so dry and boring all the time that no one notices your major breakthrough contributions to the field. #BeTheChange. By definition, comedy/jokes, are not serious! If there's thought provoking statements in the act, then that can be used to launch an important conversation. Or not, and we can ignore it. That's the beauty of comedy, is that it's comedy. As Colbert said in the video in the last post (or was it C.S. Louis?) The devil cannot stand mockery. So don't be like the devil, either laugh, or roll your eyes and move on. If you get all irate and reactive then you just make yourself look immature. If we find ourselves getting all upset over jokes, then I think we need to ask ourselves why? I had a conversation with an Executive at ASU last month, who said upper management's got about an 85% approval rating, which is about as good as it gets. Lower than 70% and we're probably not doing enough, higher than 90% and we've probably got people disengaged for some reason. Because no one's perfect, and no one has complete information. Listen to the criticism, say thanks for paying attention and speaking up (regardless of tone), and put whatever on the appropriate to-do list.Bonus points if you empower the person to do something about their gripe to make the org better!

"I trust that following my testimony, both sides will work together on this issue in the best interest of the American people, as you always do."

So, as we go into our first-ever hearing on climate change science, I think we should be asking ourselves the tough questions that were the points from the last post, including:
  • How do we get the USA (and the world) united on dealing with climate change? 
  • How can Republicans re-assert their brand as being compassionate people with faith-based family values who obviously love their neighbors and thus obviously care about the ecosystem (primarily as a public health issue as is in line with their family values)
  • How can Democrats re-assert their brand (in crisis) as being compassionate people who care that:  all Americans have access to education, healthcare, trade, and are able to work and participate in the economy and make a livable wage; that common sense public things that elude capitalist financial systems are taken seriously, including proactive planning of natural resource consumption, the air and the ocean, other public spaces, parks, recreation, public transit, etc.; and that it's okay to live a non-traditional family life -- especially since we've already got 7 billion people anyway?
    • Can we not all agree on this? 
  • How can Americans, in general, look around and say, Republican / Democrat / etc. etc. demographics, I'm proud to call you my fellow Americans. I know you're just trying to do what you think is best for yourself and your community -- including America and spaceship earth -- that you're not trying to oppress anyone, I understand your perspective, and in the event I think one thing may be higher priority than another, I can respect that the vote was to prioritize the one thing, and also appreciate that we are not completely ignoring/denying the other in the meantime. 
  • How can Americans, in general, say we are glad to have moved past the black and white all-or-nothing, everything's a fight, fear-driven mindset, into something a bit more practical? (Because the people aren't buying it anymore, see the last post on the tanking viewership.)
Is China really going to set up a moon village?
What import tariff will Will Elon Musk have to pay to get food and supplies on his way to Mars? >.>

Can we play nice on this please? This is such a good "triple bottom line" opportunity for us here. Really, economically (the pie is growing), socially (everyone could use a PR bump and morale booster), environmentally (obviously). If you need a scapegoat, blame the machine learning algorithms. Or better yet, just step up, and say, we didn't realize that <fill in the blank> was going to have the outcome it did. We wouldn't have done "that," or done it "like that," had we known. So, we're ready to course correct, and we're happy to have this conversation in this hearing. Be human, and be more respected for acknowledging that mistakes were made, and that you're taking responsibility now to clean them up.

Even Google makes mistakes, we all do, it's okay.
Making jokes about it actually takes the edge off. ;-)

Can you see the headlines, "Americans reach agreement on climate change"?
POTUS tweets, "Very good Climate Change hearing. Lots of misunderstandings cleared up. Very complicated issue. Will take many years to solve, but complete faith America can make progress in ways that are good for workers and economy."
Come on, make us all proud on this one! =)

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