You've never seen me write about climate change in this space.
I'm not big on science, because I'm not smart on science. So I must be content to trust the experts. And compared to me, my science-minded 13-year old is an expert, as she frequently reminds me. She happens to agree with most scientists on climate change, so I go with her—mostly because she does not receive any portion of her weekly allowance from oil companies or mining companies or fracking companies. (I mean, energy companies.)
What I do know something about is communication and argumentation. And the debate on the environment is the dirtiest game of liar's poker that I've ever seen. And I once edited a magazine on public education.
You know it's liar's poker when even the honest players cheat. The other day, a normally straight-dealing communicator I know pulled from the bottom of the deck some rhetorical filth that I think I'll no longer abide: It was the old business about how if environmentalists really cared about the atmosphere, they wouldn't fly to environmental conclaves in airplanes.
Once and for all: When somebody leaves on a jet plane to communicate about or otherwise study climate change, he or she is not being a hypocrite because said jet is pumping carbon into the atmosphere.
Because see, 99.9999% of people who take jet planes do so for golf benders, expense-account drink-ups, gambling sprees, illicit grab-ass or the harassment of distant family members.
On the other hand, people who take jets to speak at or attend scientific events on climate change are ostensibly dirtying the air a little in hopes of finding ways to clean it up a lot. That's not hypocritical, it's practical.
Of course you can question the usefulness of a particular environmental gathering, but no fair-minded person would demand that it be traveled to by birchbark canoe. Or at least, a fair-minded person would stop implying such nonsense once called out on it.
Communicators won't clean up the environment. But perhaps we can clean up the environmental debate—one dreary, disingenuous common rhetorical canard at a time.
Bet's to you.