Author Archives: Tom Smerling

John Oliver: “Do Owl’s Exist?”

Nobody lampoons the media’s misleading — and cowardly — “he-said, she-said” climate debates better than John Oliver (5-11-14, Last Week Tonight).    In this hilarious clip, Oliver lampoons media “false balance,” which leaves the false impression that experts are still divided.


Ten years after Boykoff brothers brilliant expose, “Balance as Bias,” so-called “balanced” debates continue to mislead the public.


Obama: No time for ‘Flat Earth Society.’

    With his eyes finally focused posterity, Pres. Obama hit a home run in his climate speech today at Georgetown U.   (Will prompt action follow?   Stay tuned. . . )   In addition to the substance, the speech included some real zingers.

Below are some of his best  soundbites, followed by the full transcript of the speech.

“I don’t have much patience for anyone who denies that this challenge is real.   We don’t have time for a meeting of the Flat Earth Society.   Sticking your head in the sand might make you feel safer, but it’s not going to protect you from the coming storm…”

“Someday, our children, and our children’s children, will look at us in the eye and they’ll ask us, did we do all that we could when we had the chance to deal with this problem and leave them a cleaner, safer, more stable world?”

Continue reading

Epuron ad screenshot

So lonely, misunderstood…

What a great example of how to breath life into an abstract topic—renewable energy—by turning it into a human character.    Add bits of emotional drama, surprise and slightly-risque humor. . . and the story becomes irresistible!

This award-winning ad by the power company Epuron and the German Ministry for the Environment (BMU) went viral a few years ago,  and has taken on a life of its own,  recently reaching 4+ million hits on YouTube.    A good story always draws a crowd.

This ad was shown at the Climate Reality leadership training in SF last August to illustrate effective communication.

Book-Burning Party: Change the story, then change the world.

Last week at the Climate Reality Leadership Training in San Francisco, storytelling guru Andy Goodman led a spellbinding session on the importance of “changing the story.”    Goodman described research that confirmed what many of us have experienced:  in a public debate, a misleading but vivid anecdote can trump reams of data and logic.    (Anybody remember Ronald Reagan’s wildly exaggerated “Welfare Queen” imagery?)

So often, the only way to dislodge emotionally-charged disinformation is to tell a better, more compelling story.

To see this principle in action, check out this wonderful little clip from Goodman’s Free Range Thinking newsletter about a successful campaign in Troy MI that defeated the Tea Party and saved the city library.    Lots of lessons here!  Continue reading

Profile in Courage: Republican meteorologist Paul Douglas

Here’s veteran TV meteorologist Paul Douglas (“A Message from a Republican Meteorologist on Climate Change):

“I’m going to tell you something that my Republican friends are loath to admit out loud:  climate change is real.   I am a moderate Republican, fiscally conservative; a fan of small government, accountability, self-empowerment, and sound science. Continue reading

water on earth 2 - USGS,

Note to Self – Part Two:
‘It’s the water, stupid!’

This updated USGS image is a striking  reminder of our vulnerability (click to enlarge).    In wet areas of the world—like northeastern U.S.—we take ample water supplies for granted, but globally it is a precious resource.

Our food supply depends on clean, fresh water Continue reading

adler - jonathan

‘Eloquent, principled’ conservative tackles climate

A conservative specialist in environmental law—Professor Jonathan Adler of Case Western Reserve University—lays out a thoughtful conservative approach to tackling climate change in a recent post at The Atlantic magazine.


Climate hawk David Roberts (Grist) accurately describes Adler’s piece as “an eloquent, principled case for the simple notion that ’embrace of limited government principles need not entail the denial of environmental claims.'” Continue reading

colbert - sink or swim screenshot of Colbert

Stephen Colbert: NC Sink or Swim

Thank god for parody— the best tool for puncturing puffed-up politicians who parade their ignorance.

Here, Stephen Colbert skewers the North Carolina legislature’s proposal to outlaw use of climate models in coastal planning.

A few snippets: Continue reading