Saturday, September 22, 2007

Are We Talking Past Each Other?

Mike Tidwell wrote another guest essay for Grist magazine, this time in response to a commentary written by social scientists who took issue with Tidwell's first essay on voluntary actions not being enough to fix the climate problem.

Tidwell writes:

[The social scientists] accused me -- wrongly -- of dismissing altogether the virtues of voluntary change. As I type this essay from my solar-powered house, with a Prius in the driveway and a vegetarian lunch in the oven, I assure you I view voluntary measures as very important. They just won't save us in time, that's all. The Arctic ice is melting way too fast.
So, are we talking past each other?

Voluntary actions AND legislative changes are needed if we are going to effectively solve the climate problem. (To be clear, this is not an either/or issue.) I think what Tidwell is saying that voluntary action, though necessary, is not sufficient. But in raising the collective consciousness for political action, I think he inadvertently downplayed the role of voluntary action.

The bottom line (I think) is that we're on the same page. But now I'm wondering if the disconnect between Tidwell and the social scientists is how we're communicating this point. I just hope that in communicating this message, we find a way to express our ideas in a cohesive manner.

1 comment:

Meghan said...

When Tidwell was emphasizing the need for governmental policy, he played down the impact of voluntary action to show the blatant necessity of policy. As depressing as it may be, he's totally right that voluntary actions alone will not get us where we need to be in the time we need to be there.

It's unfortunate that he downplayed voluntary action. But I think it's mostly unfortunate because people who already aren't doing anything will cling onto that idea and use it as an excuse. I don't think he changed anyone's mind who was already engaged in voluntary impact reduction. We all just dismissed that idea and decided to keep right on doing what we're doing. And a few of us got a bit depressed before we bounced back into our efforts.

I think the point of his essay was right on, but the tactic was off-center. And I'm glad to see he wrote another essay defending himself, err, clarifying himself. :)