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Introducing #Climate

By - April 03, 2014


As many of you know, each year I write a set of predictions about the industry – this year, however, I had a bit of a hard time getting going. The reason? A persistent sense of “existential anxiety” around climate change. In Predictions 2014: A Difficult Year To See, I wrote:

I’ve been mulling these predictions for months, yet one overwhelming storm cloud has been obscuring my otherwise consistent forecasting abilities. The subject of this cloud has nothing – directly – to do with digital media, marketing, technology or platform ecosystems – the places where I focus much of my writing. But while the topic is orthogonal at best, it’s weighing heavily on me.

So what’s making it harder than usual to predict what might happen over the coming year? In a phrase, it’s global warming. I know, that’s not remotely the topic of this site, nor is it in any way a subject I can claim even a modicum of expertise. But as I bend to the work of a new year in our industry, I can’t help but wonder if our efforts to create a better world through technology are made rather small when compared to the environmental alarm bells going off around the globe.

I’ve been worried about the effects of our increasingly technologized culture on the earth’s carefully balanced ecosystem for some time now. But, perhaps like you, I’ve kept it to myself, and assuaged my concerns with a vague sense that we’ll figure it out through a combination of policy, individual and social action, and technological solutions. Up until recently, I felt we had enough time to reverse the impact we’ve inflicted on our environment. It seemed we were figuring it out, slowly but surely.

But if this latest report from the UN is any indication, we’re not figuring it out fast enough. In fact, the “the costs of inaction are catastrophic,” according to Sec. of State John Kerry.

So how can we take action? In my post, I noted:

As Ben Horowitz pointed out recently, one key meaning of technology is  “a better way of doing things.” So if we believe that, shouldn’t we bend our technologic infrastructure to the world’s greatest problem? If not – why not? Are the climate deniers right? I for one don’t believe they are. But I can’t prove they aren’t. So this constant existential anxiety grows within me – and if conversations with many others in our industry is any indication, I’m not alone.

Indeed, I am not alone, and today, a stellar group of people voted with their reputation and joined the #Climate movement. Sure, a hashtag isn’t going to change the world alone, but it’s a start – and it’s more than just posting on social networks. Created by my friend Josh Felser and a dedicated team, #Climate is “leveraging the social media reach of several dozen “influencers” to spread the word about concrete actions that citizens can take to confront the challenges of global warming. The tech-heavy class of inaugural influencers, who have a combined reach of 80 million people on Facebook and Twitter, include: Al Gore, Twitter CEO Dick Costolo, Medium founder Evan Williams, California Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom, actor Mark Ruffalo and the NBA.” (Re/Code)

I’m honored to be included in the list and will be using the app from now on. If you follow me on Twitter, I hope you’ll find my calls to action worthy of your time. Who knows, we might just be starting something….

 

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8 thoughts on “Introducing #Climate

  1. Tirpstil says:

    An excellent, overdue initiative. But here’s a word of constructive criticism for the author of this blog, whose sincerity is obvious. The climate crisis is just the most urgent part of a more general ecological crisis, one of excessive use of materials and energy in our economies, a problem essentially caused by over-consumption. And advertising is a well-known catalyst to consumption. It seems to me that a future challenge for this blog is to look at ways for the advertising industry to stop being part of the problem and to start being part of the solution.

  2. Harold Daggar says:

    John – I know you want to be liked and respected in the liberal echo chamber and you rarely come in contact with those who have different world views than you get in the Bay Area, but I suggest you consider the perspective that the “climate change” crowd (AGW) is no different than any other faith organization in human history. It consists of 3 segments. 1) those who use it for political means as a potential tax on wealthy countries and people and as a means to control other people and resources (power through scams like carbon credits). Religious organizations used their claim on the truth and their position for centuries to control people to do things politically they couldn’t accomplish otherwise 2) the truly faithful who are looking for a purpose in life and which to do good but are manipulated by “facts” handed to them but in the end are “believers”. To disagree with a believer and their doctrine is heresy and they use terms such as “denier”. (btw, can you imagine any other debate over a highly complex scientific theory where one side disparages the other side as “deniers”? I can’t either. sure sounds and smells like a religious debate, not a science one). 3) Those who trust the “experts” as presented to them by the media, government officials, academia and have very little exposure to a diverse set of views or contrary information and therefore just assume it must be correct. They are also fairly easily manipulated by the herd instinct of their pack (well, all the people I know and trust believe it so it also must be true) as well as time-tested tactics used in identity politics to group any people with contrarian opinions as “one of those” (insert polluters, right-wingers, greedy, etc) and therefore shutoff debate early and often and thus an easy way to control people and their curiosity. I would place you into group 3.

    This should be a lively, active debate and its obvious that man has and can have an impact on the climate. Though we have learned an enormous amount about the mechanics of how the earth regulates itself, it nothing more than a joke to say we can predict anything with accuracy over a couple days of weather conditions.

    If you are interested in learning more, I suggest you seek out a range of opinions and keep an open mind as anyone studying scientific theory does and form your own opinion and voice it – even if you lands outside the fashionable groups you belong to.

    Couple places to start
    http://www.climatedepot.com/
    http://www.petitionproject.org/
    but all you have to do is google “anti-agw scientists” and you will see that despite what you have been told, its not a fringe position.

    Finally, one of my favorite passages on scientific debate is this section
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Science#Certainty_and_science
    Philosopher Barry Stroud adds that, although the best definition for “knowledge” is contested, being skeptical and entertaining the possibility that one is incorrect is compatible with being correct. Ironically then, the scientist adhering to proper scientific approaches will doubt themselves even once they possess the truth.

    • johnbattelle says:

      Thanks Harold, appreciate your taking the time to comment. I respect people like, for example, Freeman Dyson, and sure, faith has something to do with where I land. However, I think it’s pretty hard to argue with rising seas and shrinking ice packs. So I’d rather support work on scenario planning based on the best science we have.