Fight global warming – just don’t mention it
Sometimes the best way to fight global warming is to never mention it. And most especially don’t mention Al Gore. The fact is, global warming (and Al Gore) have been very effectively used as a wedge, dividing generally reasonable people across a political divide that ultimately serves no one except those seeking division instead of solutions or even fundamental understanding of the issues. The climate change disinformation campaign has become so successful that an entire political party has abandoned even the suggestion of its reality, much less doing anything about it. It may seem like a nonstarter, but even with the politically charged issue of climate change, finding common ground — and real solutions — is possible (as long as you don’t mention global warming). Salina, Kansas is one example.
Common sense leads to common ground
Instead of focusing on global warming and all the alarmist claims of hoaxes, world government control, and greedy scientists seeking grant money — many of the themes pursued by the vested interests in climate disinformation — Nancy Jackson sought instead to focus on the cure, not the symptom.
The genesis for the Climate and Energy Project began three years ago over the dinner table — where many great ideas take root. Jackson and her father-in-law Wes Jackson, president of the Land Institute, a non-profit promoting sustainable agriculture, were discussing the plight of local farmers. Midwestern farmers will likely be the most impacted by climate change, Wes commented, but also among the least likely to do anything about it. Jackson agreed that opposition to global warming action ran “broad and deep,” but was convinced that such opposition could be overcome. So she set out to prove her point.
So Jackson, a Kansas native, founded the Salina-based Climate and Energy Project to do just that. Jackson understood at the outset that she’d get much further if she didn’t make the problem about global warming, of which only 48 percent of American midwesterners believe there is solid evidence. Instead she focused on stronger communities through energy conservation — something her neighbors could fully support without doubt or suspicion.
Saving energy is patriotic and thrifty
Jackson was convinced that by reframing the issue around themes of thrift, patriotism, spiritual conviction, and economic prosperity she could meet her fellow Kansans on common ground, focused on a solution.
Last year, Jackson put her conviction to the test. Through her non-profit Climate and Energy Project, she formulated a three-pronged strategy appealing to issues most important in her community. Working with civic leaders, Jackson emphasized green jobs as a means of shoring up beleaguered local economies. She then spoke with local clergy to draw attention to “creation care.” And she tied it all together by enlisting Salina and five other Kansas towns in a year-long competition to see which could be the most energy efficient.
Children hunted “energy vampires” for Halloween, energy efficient LED lightbulbs where hung on Christmas trees, restaurants turned off their lights and lit candles for Valentines day, one church installed a geothermal heating system. It all added up. Hitting a 1.5 percent target in energy conservation is considered a success. Salina and her competitors achieved 5 percent in energy reduction.
With the help of grants from the Kansas Energy Office, the Climate and Energy Project plans on expanding the competition to 16 cities throughout the state in 2011.
Don’t tell Kansas, but they’re doing a great job fighting global warming.