Our friend and scientist-filmmaker Randy Olson had some run-ins with Marc Morano in making his hilarous recent film Sizzle: A Global Warming Comedy, which premiered last July at the Outfest Gay and Lesbian Festival in Hollywood, and at the Woods Hole Film Festival. It is now on the film festival and college screening circuit.
I’ve done a short Q&A with Olson about how we should think about Morano, given that he is an increasingly prominent character in the climate debate. Here are my questions, and his responses:
Do you respect Marc Morano? As a source of accurate information on global warming, no. As a powerful and skilled communicator who is well suited to today’s media environment, yes, I do and the entire science community should.
Do you think he is successful? He just got profiled in the NY Times. I’d say he has arrived in terms of his mission to establish himself as a lead spokesman in their efforts to thwart global warming action. I included him in my movie because I was impressed with his aggressiveness, quickness, and sheer ability to domineer. Yet I also showed in the segment how inaccurate he could be with the facts as I end it with him saying “none of the dire environmental predictions of the 1970’s came true.” In his list is the oceans. I’m trained as a marine biologist. I told him he was wrong on that. He replied, “Well, at least they’re not dead,” which is just terrible.
What does his success say about the climate debate today? He is the definitive case study disproving the strategy of the mainstream science community’s belief that, “If you just ignore these skeptics they will go away.” That seemed to be Gore’s approach in his movie — he cited the large number of studies supporting the urgency of global warming, then seemed to imply there was little resistance. Last year I was at a speech by a senior climate scientist and asked from the audience what he thought of climate skeptics, to which he replied, “Are there any left?” which brought a huge laugh and round of applause from the audience.
Slowly, and rather ineptly, the environmental movement is showing signs of realizing how wrong they were with that approach. Just two weeks ago I received a mass email from Environmental Defense Fund titled, “Global Warming Opposition: By the Numbers.” Instead of saying “there is no resistance,” they went to the other extreme. Citing the $450 million spent last year by the anti-global warming action movement, they said, “we are witnessing an unprecedented all-out campaign by polluters and ideologues to prevent meaningful action.” Overall, their message was pretty much, “there is now so much resistance that if you don’t give us money we’re all going to fail!” That’s a pretty big turn around from the “just ignore them” strategy. And now they have to deal with a guy with a very loud mouth, who trained with Rush Limbaugh, as one of the lead spokesmen. It’s time for the science community to realize they are getting out-communicated, and put more effort into understanding how today’s communication environment works. It’s not as simple as just spouting out the facts. There are effective ways to confront the skeptics, but you have to realize these guys are playing hardball. Good intentions count for nothing. This isn’t your father’s climate science world any longer.
Sadly, to my mind this is all exactly right….
Links to this Post
- Climate Consensus ‘Busted’? - Dot Earth Blog - NYTimes.com | April 10, 2009