A guest blog by Danny Bloom
In the fight against global warming, no matter what side of the aisle one is coming from, leftwing or rightwing or right down the center — or even, in some cases, outright denial that man-made global warming exists at all — the words and slogans used by activists and campaigners can have a powerful impact on the debate, not only swaying minds but also changing the ways that people live their lives, carbon footprint at all.
Recently, there was a news item on the Internet with a headline that went like this:
“Five keys to a safe-climate future”
When a blogger in Taiwan read that headline and saw for the first time the phrase “safe-climate future”, his eyes did not glaze over, quite the contrary. He woke up from the normal quiet buzz in the email cafe where he was surfing the Internet that day and realized that the using the two words together, with a hyphen connecting them — “safe-climate” — had a very good ring to it, and was immediately recognizable and understandable due to earlier coinage of “safe-sex” practices among activists fighting other battles.
If “safe-sex”, which had a particular ring to it after being popularized in English around the world, could have an impact, then perhaps “safe-climate” could also play a role in the debate over climate change and global warming, the blogger in Taiwan thought to himself as fellow denizens of the email cafe continued playing a variety of noisy “computer games” on the Internet all over the cavernous room. Yes, he thought, this term, whoever coined it, has come up with a very good concept, and it could be applied to other topics in the global warming debate — for example, one could speak of “safe-climate lifestyles” and “safe-climate education” and “safe-climate ideas,” in addition to talking about a “safe-climate future”.
According to sources, a green activist in the USA first coined the “safe-climate future” wording when he wrote the headline for the article about the Code Red report linked to above. From there, the phrase spread around the Internet, via blogs and comments and news websites, and a new phrase was born. So whether we are talking about a safe-climate future or practicing a safe-climate lifestyle, the new coinage has great possibilities of rallyng people around the vital issues of the day and inspiring them to lead more safe-climate lifestyles themselves.
The phrase seems like a good wake-up call, using language as a tool. When asked about this idea, comments on the blogosphere ranged from “inspired” to “important”. Of course, there were also some naysayers, there are always people who don’t cotton to a new word or phrase when they first encounter it and shy way from wanting to use it when it seems so strange to them at first. Later, they might come around. Or later, they may still not like the new coinage. That’s okay. If the words or phrases are useful, they will be used. If they are not useful or inspiring, they will fall by the wayside.
But talking about a safe-climate future and leading safe-climate lifestyles seems to make sense in this day and age. Here are what some people said in comments:
“I think it’s a good PR phrase. The article says that now ‘radical’ responses from activists are required. I don’t know what to do ‘radically’, but anything that helps, such as promoting a ‘safe-climate’ consciousness, lifestyle, future, surely has to help. It’s a good phrase.”
“Go, go, go! ”Safe-climate future or safe-climate lifestyles” sounds like a great idea. Good framing.”
“I Like the term a lot! — Catchy.”
“It’s simple, succinct and catchy. It’s an idea that most people can easily grasp. So it seems good.”
“Tha is an awesome term, safe-climate, and yes, we should get it used! In the media and in the blogosphere. Who coined it?”
“I too have been looking for a phrase to embody this idea. I’ve seen a couple — such as “climate preservation” — but nothing that sounds as good to me as “safe-climate lifestyle”.
“That sounds good. We need catchy phrases like that to get people thinking. And it doesn’t sound ego-threatening or scare-mongering.”
“The ways of language are mysterious, and impossible to predict. But there’s no doubt that the new reality of the 21st century calls for such a phrase as “safe-climate lifestyle or safe-climate future, and that phrase is definitely a good contender — perhaps in time it will come to be known as the phrase that saved the climate!”
So a new phrase has been born, thanks to one activist’s creativity and inspiration. If the word term catches on with media people at newspapers and on TV and radio, in addition to people blogging day and night about climate issues, it might have a long shelf life and be an important addition not only to our vocabulary, which is always evolving, but also the fight against global warming itself, as a means to help raise public awareness and concious.
I’m not a regular blogger, even on my own blogs, as I use them mostly as files to store articles and file ideas away for future reference, so I thank this website for giving me a chance to be one of the guest bloggers here.
I want to say a few things about a year-long campaing I’ve been conducting on the Internet to help raise awareness of global warming issues using some visual images of so-called “polar cities” (where survivors of future global warming events are imagined to find refuge in). The entire project is basically a public relations campaign aimed at making those people who are still not aware of global warming a bit more aware of it, if only for a day or two, until the polar cities images fade and they go on with their daily lives, once again oblivious to the dangers that might lie ahead for all of humankind. The dangers? You know what I am talking about. I would think that most people are aware of global warming and the danger it poses for the future of civilization on planet Earth. But apparently, there are quite a few people, here and there, who still don’t get it, or aren’t paying attention, or are in deep denial. Whatever.
So, to make a long story short: I created the polar cities project as a PR campaign to help do my small part in helping to raise public awareness worldwide. Not a huge effort, not a big stamp; just a one-man blogging band using the Internet to spread the message that global warming is for real and we need to try to tackle it. I don’t have an agenda, political or scientific, but like many other people, I think we need to face the issue climate change head on. I read green blogs every day to check on the issues (and also am a regular reader of Dot Earth over at the New York Times).
I want to emphasize that in my project, I am not saying we will ever need polar cities for survivors of global warming in the far distant future. I hope we never need them, and it’s hard to conceive of a world where they would be needed. Right? Right.
But I asked an artist who lives in my neighborhood in Taiwan to make some computer-generated images of what a polar city might look like, and the operative word here is “might”. Deng Cheng-hong, who runs a small sign shop near by home, came up with a series of amazing images. They are from his own imagination. I asked him to make the images for me, I paid him for his work, and I suggested a rough sketch of what a polar city might look like. But the artwork is all his own, from an artist’s point of view.
The images are a visual wake-up call, I like to think. In what way? If we don’t sit down and tackle global warming, then the future might be very very problematical. That’s all my PR campaign is trying to say — using a scary visual image to help wake people up. Not those reading this blog today: you already know the score. But for those people in the world who still think the Earth is flat (and by that I mean “that global warming is hoax”), my PR campaign is for them.
Read my new press here and see more of the images here. Comments and feedback are very welcome, because I learn so much each time readers give me feedback, pro or con. This is an ongoing project, unfunded, my time, my dime.
Take a look.
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Green blogger uses “polar cities” as educational tool to raise public awareness about global warming issues
NEW YORK — A lone blogger in Taiwan is using the Internet in a novel way to help raise awareness about global warming.
Green media activist Danny Bloom doesn’t believe humans will ever have to live in so-called “polar cities” (a term he coined in 2006), but he is using a series of computer-generated blueprints of a polar city as an educational tool to help raise help public awareness about the climate crisis.
Created by Taiwanese artist Cheng-hong Deng, the polar city images have appeared on hundreds of websites and blogs around the world — in English, Japanese, Korean, Spanish, French and Chinese, Bloom, a 1971 gradute of Tufts University in Boston, says.
The 58-year-old green activist says he is using the Internet in a novel way to get his message across.
The message? “If we don’t actively tackle the very serious problems that confront the world now, in terms of global warming, then there is a possibility that future generations might have to take refuge in such polar cities. I never want to see these polar cities become reality. So the images Deng has created for my project are meant to be a warning about global warming.”
Bloom says he has shown the images to internationally-acclaimed climate scientist James Lovelock in Britain, who is known for his pessimism and doomsaying about global warming. Lovelock told Bloom by email: “It may very well happen and soon.”
“I hope polar cities are never needed for survivors of global warming in the far distant future,” Bloom says. “These images are meant to be a wake-up call for those who are still sleepwalking through the climate crisis.”
Bloom emphasizes that he has no agenda, political or scientific, in terms of solutions to global warming, and says that he just wants to participate in the global discussion about climate change in his own personal way. “I am just using Deng’s images to sound the alarm, a visual alarm.”
He says that his Internet campaign, which began a year ago with a letter to the editor of several newspapers in North America and Europe, has had the result he is looking for.
A young blogger in Tahiti saw the images, blogged about them in French, and said that while he found the polar city blueprints to be fascinating, they made him just want to work harder in his daily life “to help fight the climate crisis so that the worst case scenarios never happen.”
POLAR CITIES BLUEPRINTS CAN BE SEEN HERE, at the newly opned “James E Lovelock Virtual Museum of Polar Cities”: http://pcillu101.blogspot.com
EMAIL: danbloom (GMAIL)