The world in my bubble is different from the world in your bubble. The TV show Madmen dramatized this in an early episode, when Betty comes home with her drycleaning. After a few minutes, the kids come running out of the bedroom playing ‘spacemen.’ Sally is wearing the thin plastic dry-cleaning bag over her head and body. Betty gets mad, as any mother would at this shocking sight, and chides Sally,
“If the clothes from that dry-cleaning bag are on the floor of my closet, you’re going to be a very sorry, young lady.”
How times have changed! Betty is oblivious to today’s concerns about suffocation, and we’re blind to her focus on well-pressed clothing.
When it comes to climate change and the transition to a low carbon economy, there are some very strong bubbles built largely on the capacity of the internet to foster colonies of like-minds.
There’s a whole anti-AGW blogosphere bubble promoting the notion that climate science is not settled and ‘do nothing’ is the best course of action. There are virtually no practising climate scientists in this bubble, though there are related professionals like weathermen and engineers along with lots of backyard ‘thinkers’.
There’s also a pro-AGW bubble that posts evidence, debunks fallacies and corrects errors. This bubble has quite a number of practising climate scientists, along with science communicators, news media, business interests, enthusiasts and various interest groups.
Meanwhile, the usual practice of science continues through peer reviewed papers in academic journals.
How do we speak to each other across these bubbles? As a first step, we need to spend more time hanging out with people who live in different bubbles from ours. Natually, this is not as comfortable as hanging out with like minds. You have to make an effort and be prepared for some abrasion.
We can also make efforts to see the world from someone else’s point of view. Why does Betty Draper ignore the suffocation risk when Sally puts the plastic bag over her head?
To see the world from someone else’s point of view we need to listen with respect, as climate scientist Katharine Hayhoe says,
If we approach this issue with mutual respect, with a desire for identifying what we most have in common rather than where we differ, and if we are prepared to listen and have two-way communication, rather than just coming in there to instruct, then we can make some progress.
Without these efforts, we remain trapped in our bubble, our echo chamber. That makes us lousy communicators. More like Betty Draper than Katharine Hayhoe.
First published at Thisness of a That, reprinted with permission.