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What's Next?

By Keith Kloor
Nov 8, 2010 9:42 PMNov 20, 2019 3:23 AM


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Some recent scholarly research on the relevance of storytelling to the climate change debate gets aired out in a USA Today column by Dan Vergano, of which this is the thrust:

"Scientists, academics, and politicians on the left, do not do stories very well," says Harvard political scientist Michael Jones, who earlier this year led a Policy Studies Journal report on the use and misuse of narrative in policymaking. "You have to tell a story, though, if you want people to retain information."

I discussed the implications of Jones' research in September, but they're worth mentioning again, not just because Vergano quotes from another related post of mine, but because the issue of narrative has become a big part of the climate discussion of late. For example, last week we saw Gavin Schmidt and Judith Curry put forward dueling narratives. What's underlying a lot of this back and forth is discontent with a particular story narrative. It was interesting to see how this played out with the recent Scientific American profile of Curry. Here was an evenhanded piece exploring a controversy over some thorny issues related to climate change and it was still slammed by Joe Romm and Jim Naureckas at Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR). That prompted John Rennie, the former SciAm editor in chief to defend the merits of the story. In a follow-up post you can see Rennie's frustration grow as he gets into it with FAIR's Naureckas (over another story!) in the thread. My favorite comment, though, comes from another reader:

Welcome to the circular firing squad that is the progressive environmentalist movement. I'm as climate hawkish as they come and even I'm getting tired of this particular merry go round.

This echoes what I predicted last month:

Make no mistake: there will be a bloggy blood bath over who gets to shape this [climate] narrative. And it will be largely internecine, between liberal and climate-concerned bloggers.

Meanwhile, for obsessive climate watchers, here are some developing character-driven stories that bear watching: Will Joe Romm remain the tip of the spear in the climate wars during this wilderness period, or will he be consumed by the dark forces and disappointment swirling all around him? What happens to Tom Fuller, who appears equally consumed by the heart of darkness? Is he really leaving the climate wars? Or has he been dispatched on a secret mission to find Col Kurtz? Then, there's the Werewolf of London Georgia storyline, in which Judith Curry will continue her metamorphosis. Will she soon become all but unrecognizable to her former colleagues? Obviously, there are many more characters to this epic drama that is now between acts. What are your cliffhangers for some of them? Will Anthony Watts fold up shop eventually and become a contestant on Dancing with the Stars? What about my favorite loony skeptic? What's his next move? Didn't somebody suggest he should get his own Reality show (was that Lucia)? C'mon folks, give me some material to work with. Where's this story going?

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