Friday, August 23, 2013

What if Aliens Caused Global Warming? (we'd do something about it)


Does anyone remember the movie Armageddon?  It was full of wonderful "science" and an unbelievable plot made believable only by Ben Affleck and Bruce Willis hugging it out over a nuclear bomb.  However, I did believe in one thing.  If an asteroid were about to crash into the earth, annihilating life as we know it (or as anyone knows it), we would drop what we're doing and try REALLY hard to stop it.

Meanwhile, here on Planet Not-Hollywood, we face multiple other threats to human existence, and yet we're not all banding together and throwing 99% of our fiscal budget at removing this threat.  In fact, many people still deny this possibility.  Sure, there are many differences between real life and "Armageddon", not the least being that the melting ice caps aren't bringing an avalanche of former glaciers through the streets of Paris, London, Beijing, and New York City.  But I'd like to ask one particular question:

What if it wasn't our fault?

Sarah Palin once said "But while we recognize the occurrence of these natural, cyclical environmental trends, we can't say with assurance that man's activities cause weather changes."  Now, I'm no Sarah Palin fan, and she's certainly said some dumb things in the past.  In fact when I heard this, I thought wow, way to try to have it both ways.  But then I realized the genius (however unintentional) of this statement.

You see, I'm actually very pro-human.  I love humanity.  Mankind has done great things.  Before our great society, there was no ice cream, no karaoke, and no League of Extraordinary Dancers.  We developed language, mathematics, social structures, and tools, that turned us from apes into Masters of the Universe.  I'm proud of humanity.  Humanity is great.

And that is why I think there is so much denial and fighting over climate change.  Sometimes when I hear people talk about Climate Change, what I really hear is this:

1.  You are destroying the world
2.  Therefore you are evil
3. Here's how to save the world

Now, most people don't INTEND to give this message, but it's only natural to hear point 2, when someone makes point 1.  When we listen to other's speak, we think everything is about us.  It's like if someone asks you "Did you take the last cupcake?"  You might answer "I only had one! just like everyone else."  You really heard "You're a pig" instead of an innocent question.

Now most people (especially conservatives) don't think humans are evil.  Destroying the world certainly sounds evil, so to avoid cognitive and identity dissonance, many people need to conclude that the first statement is not true.  I'm not evil and I'm human.  So what you're saying must be a lie (or I must be evil).   Maintaining your identity as not-evil is a strong motivator for denial.  They're so stuck in point 1 and 2 that they'll never hear point 3.

So what if instead, climate change debaters spoke like this

1. The world is changing (kind of like in that movie 2013, blame it on the Mayans or something)
2. We're all in trouble
3. Here's how to save the world

After all, does it really matter if humans are causing global warming or not?  There is real evidence that the climate is changing.  Say some passing aliens dropped several gigatons of carbon into our atmosphere (and then left).  Reducing carbon emissions is still a good strategy, as are several more aggressive ideas like putting reflectors in the atmosphere.  If you're overweight, does it really matter if it's because of genetics or because there's a MacDonalds next door?  Go on a diet and exercise.

Pro-environment does not have to equal Anti-humanity.  This should not be conservatives vs. liberals.  You can love humans and try to save the earth too.  In fact, if you love humans, you should probably protect our home.  The asteroid is coming for us. Let's not waste time pointing fingers, band together, and get Ben Affleck* to save us all.




Addendum:  Want further proof that climate change has become "personal"?  A study shows that pro-environment labeling for lightbulbs dissuades conservatives.

* It's not lost on me that in Armageddon, deep oil drillers save the world.  Way to sell end-of-the-world due to environmental disaster (asteroids count) to conservatives.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Superheroes Unite: Greener Minds for a Greener Future

Hidden deep within the Mendocino Woodlands miles beyond the reach of Dr. Asphalt's tentacles lies a top secret facility shielded from the watchful eyes of AT&T and Verizon. It is in this secluded campsite where the great California oaks stand guard over the formation of a new league of superheroes for a new generation of challenges.

It is here that on June 17th, one hundred brave recruits began their training, gaining the skills, the support, and the inspiration to make their mark on the world. Some of these weekend warriors had been working on their "cover" for decades. They were well established consultants, engineers, and designers. Many worked for nonprofits and others for Fortune 500 companies. But they all worked for Mother Earth.

It is here that our heroes learned to be creative, to communicate through visual recording and charades, to dance like no one is watching, and to trust themselves as much as well as others. They accomplished amazing feats of cooking (and eating). They honed their skills with fire staffs and poi, practiced ninja sustainability while slacklining between trees, and tossed biodegradable organic grenades safely across remarkable distances.

It is here where the super geniuses made their mark. Master plans emerged to make environmental issues an important part of the 2012 elections. Aspiring heroes shared ideas on how to create change through better conversations and better storytelling. Brainstorms attacked poverty, education, personal well-being, propaganda, technology, leadership, sustainable business practices, health, new models of ownership, gamefication, fun, and even how to deal with an earthquakeAnd it is here that we began to see the formation of future icons. The golden jock strap twins began their dancing alliance. Unicorn woman took on multiple shapes. Oven mitt man made the rounds, and even spider man was spotted as the heroes gathered around campfires for song and dance while wielding rainbow nunchuks and devastating rhyme.

So who do you put in charge of a hundred costumed avengers? No one. Superheroes must walk their own path, find their own futures. At this Greenermind Summit, our heroes found a place to dream big, explore, learn, and find the inspiration to become the heroes they have always wanted to be. But this isn't your typical organization or conference. There's no one in charge. There's no one you runs it. Like their own futures, the destiny of this unconference was decided by the choices of the individuals. And if the results of the Greenermind Summit was any indication, the future looks bright indeed.

Click here for more information on the Greenermind Summit.

For more posts, see www.fiction4change.org

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Fast Food Writing: Scaling Media Consumption




I remember first hearing the term “media consumption” long ago and thinking, “what an odd phrase.” But now, many years later, it has proven to be EXACTLY the right phrase. I don’t consider myself to be part of the generation of massively multitasking youth, the generation that, according to some Stanford studies, can only do homework while consuming some other form of media (mostly TV and IM). No, I’m old school. And yet, I also constantly turn on my phone to check email that doesn’t need checking, watch way too much TV and HUNGER for youtube videos regardless of topic or relevance. I just want to snack.

So what does this mean for writing? Like food, writing has always existed. But back in the day, literacy was rare, and the ability to publish even more rare. As such, there was a relatively high bar to get published, and really, people read the same 10 books for hundreds of years (reference: this is a blog, so no data, just a point to be made). Likewise, in the food industry, each meal was made by hand, and if not delicious, at least it wasn’t made primarily from ingredients that you couldn’t pronounce.

Then enter the food industry. As Food Inc, The Omnivore’s Dilemma, and countless other books and movies will tell you, Food underwent a tremendous transformation. Essentially, we learned to SCALE food, enabling food to become ridiculously cheap. And lo and behold, we began to consume all this cheap, delicious food, not because we needed the calories, but because we hungered for that spark of stimulation. Consumption took on a whole new meaning as we consumed. And like it or not, processed foods have become the true winners in this new form of consumption because it embraced SCALE.

Some things are strikingly familiar in the writing space. No longer is the primary written word a novel that has taken a decade to write. Words are being consumed by the thousands, skimmed over as they go down our gullets by giant spoonfuls. We don’t read too carefully. Who cares about the grammer in my tweetfeed or friendfeed or facebook feed or… is it a coincidence that everything is a feed? We just open up our mouth, stick it up against the trough that is the internet and let the calories come piling in.

So, do I turn up my nose in disgust at these “empty calories?” Or do I embrace this world, realize that editing this blog post isn’t worth the time, and focus on turning myself into a writer that can withstand the changes that are rocking the medium. Faster, shorter, cheaper… Are we delivering depth or just stimulus? Or perhaps the challenge is the same that it is in any industry. I have a story to tell. Now how do I tell that story faster and cheaper.

For more posts, check out www.fiction4change.org

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Fiction4Change

I have started a new website at fiction4change.org

Our mission is to promote books, novels, music, videos, movies, and games that address important social and environmental issues. We are a blog that allows people to share their thoughts and ideas about how stories and fiction can be used to change the world.

My future posts will be coming from that blog, so please subscribe to the new blog:

www.fiction4change.org

Friday, January 28, 2011

Environmental Science Fiction

www.terrenevalley.com - Environmental Science Fiction novel hits #3 spot in top-rated science fiction in the Kindle store.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Fiction 4 Change

I've started a twitter account to talk about Fiction4Change, using the power of fiction to create real change in the world.

You can follow me at http://twitter.com/fiction4change

For example, I ran into this really cool article that uses fictional narrative to make a report on a court proceeding much more engaging.
http://www.slate.com/id/2281715/

If you have more examples, send them my way!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Terrene: the hidden valley book launch

Friends,
I am pleased to announce the launch of my new novel: Terrene: the hidden valley.

As many of you know, I have been working on this book for almost two years now. It is born from my desire to help the world navigate the impending challenges of great environmental and technological change and from my belief that stories can change the world. I am happy that I am able to share this with you and hope that you will help me make this book a success. I am launching only an eBook version without any traditional marketing, so you and your networks are critical to the success of this book.

Step 1.) Buy the book here
This is only released on the Amazon Kindle so that I can focus my efforts on one store. Getting traction in one place is critical to bubbling up to the top so that random people will find the book. You are critical to this. You do not have to have a Kindle to buy this book, but you will have to sign up for an Amazon account and download a reader to view it on a PC, Mac, iphone, ipad, or Android device. You can also buy a Kindle ebooks as a gift to someone else.

Step 2.) Write a review here
Good Reviews and good quality reviews are critical for online stores. Please take the time to write a good review for this book. It will make a huge difference in the future of this book and is the best present you could possibly give me.

Step 3. ) Tell your friends
In the coming days, I will begin marketing via special pages on facebook and twitter. Please forward things along. Below, I have also included a template email that you can copy and paste into an email to send out to your friends.

________________________________

A good friend of mine just launched a science fiction novel that deals with some of the environmental issues we will be facing in the next century. His goal is not to make money, but to raise awareness on these issues. Please check it out here and consider purchasing a copy of the book.

www.terrenevalley.com
see it at amazon.com