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The power of translation: @BarackObama’s #climate anger emerging

April 26th, 2015 · No Comments

As part of President Barak Obama’s speech at the White House Correspondent’s dinner, as part of his speech (full video), the President introduced his anger translator who expressed — forcefully — perspectives that many in the reality-based community feel (and believe are pent up in many) and wish were part of the general and open dialogue across our society. A bit more than halfway through this routine, things shift … when it comes to climate change.

At the three minute mark, President Obama shifts the discussion from money in politics to “the need to focus on big challenges: like climate change”. For nearly a minute, the routine continues with President Obama speaking in the ‘acceptable’ zone of somewhat banal political language even if straightforward in laying out that

The science is clear.

But, then President Obama begins to lean in forcefully.

OBAMA: The science is clear, the science is clear. Nine out of the 10 hottest years ever came in the last decade.

LUTHER: Now I’m not a scientist, but I do know how to count to ten.

OBAMA: Rising seas, more violent storms…

LUTHER: You got mosquitoes, sweaty people on the trains stinking it up. It’s just nasty!

OBAMA: I mean, look at what’s happening right now. Every serious scientist says we need to act. The Pentagon says it’s a national security risk. Miami floods on a sunny day and instead of doing anything about it, we’ve got elected officials throwing snowballs in the Senate.

LUTHER: Okay, I think they got it, bro.

OBAMA: It is crazy! What about our kids? What kind of stupid, short-sided irresponsible bull —

LUTHER: Whoa, whoa whoa, whoa!

OBAMA: What?

LUTHER: Hey!

OBAMA: What!

LUTHER: All due respect, sir, you don’t need anger translator. You need counseling.

For years, those understanding of climate change risks and challenges have expressed strong concern over “climate silence“. From inadequate media coverage, to absence in the 2012 Presidential debates, to gaps in OFA calls for action, to commentators’ failures to associate climate when discussing things like California’s drought to …., there was a prolonged period of stunning and distressing inadequacy of discussion of climate change — including from the Oval Office’s Bully Pulpit.

This has changed.

This has changed significantly.

President Obama has been speaking forcefully on climate change.

President Obama has been confronting forcefully science denial.

President Obama has been working forcefully to encourage those with a basic respect for science to move toward more meaningful action.

President Obama has been issuing forcefully executive orders and directing Agency moves (such as EPA regulations under the Clean Air Act).

Last night, President Obama let his anger shine forth in what some are calling his most forceful statement yet on climate change.

Last night, President Obama hammered forcefully the nail in the coffin any claims of the White House engaging in Climate Silence.

That is a coffin we need to bury across all of society.

President Obama’s anger against those who deny climate science and who are impeding movement toward a prosperous, climate-friendly society is anger that we all should share.

While everyone who has understanding of climate science implications requires some form of counseling (let’s be honest, this is pretty overwhelming and depressing …), perhaps we need to emulate President Obama and let our anger shine forth.

UPDATE:  Joe Romm, whose Language Intelligence: Lessons on Persuasion from Jesus, Shakespeare, Lincoln and Lady Gaga is the go-to discussion of rhetoric and climate change, shared his perspective on the President’s anger translator:

this is one of the most brilliant pieces of writing on climate change — with pitch-perfect delivery — you are ever going to see.

UPDATE 2: After sending me that perspective on Obama’s speech after a note about my post, Joe put up Obama Finally Gets Angry At Climate Science Deniers and Its Hilarious:

I’ve been critical in the past for Obama not speaking forcefully enough about climate change — and for not realizing until mid-2013 that moral outrage is the winning way to speak about it.

But this was not only Obama’s best “speech” on climate change to date, it was delivered to the perfect audience — the DC elite and the panjandrums of the media. The “not-so-intelligentsia” have been wildly underplaying the story of the century for a long, long time.

They should have called “Bull–” on deniers a long time ago. Kudos to the President for finally doing so.

This was the perfect audience  — and this speech just might influence some reporters’/outlets’ approaches to climate change issues in the 2016 election cycle.

Peter Sinclair likens the power of President Obama’s “anger translator” with John Oliver’s look at climate science consensus.

If you saw the President’s as-always, pitch near-perfect and impeccably timed speech to the White House Correspondent’s Dinner last, you saw his final bit with his “Anger Translator”, a brillant parody on the ‘angry  black man” so loved and feared by the Fox News Crowd.
But even the Anger Translator is taken aback by the President’s rage about climate deniers….

The use of humor to cut thru to the bone is rarely deployed like this by a Chief Executive.  Only John Oliver has done anything quite as skewering as this.

UPDATE 3: The post-mortem on climate silence is clearly too soon. According to notes from those who track such things, the media reporting on the Anger Translator is downplaying (to outright ignoring) the climate portion of the President’s remarks.

Climate change discussion was not limited to the Anger Translator routine.  From earlier in the speech,

But, of course, let’s face it, there is one issue on every reporters minds, and that is 2016. Already, we’ve seen some missteps. …

Ted Cruz said that denying the existence of climate change made him like Galileo. Now that’s not really an apt comparison. Galileo believed the Earth revolves around the sun. Ted Cruz believes the Earth revolves around Ted Cruz.

 

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Tags: barack obama · catastrophic climate change · climate change · Global Warming · global warming deniers · Obama Administration · political symbols · politics · President Barack Obama