This simple graph managed to explain in a few seconds, to millions of people, how to manage COVID-19. It explained the problem, what happened if countries moved fast or slow and literally held a crystal ball to the world. It's a time lapse, a freeze frame and a projection you can rely on. Whichever country you are in, this graph is clear, concise, on point and tells the story of managing COVID-19 simply and clearly. Way better than any words. I wonder if anyone at CDC or The Economist, who first published it, knew how far reaching its impact would be, but this graph worked. Many scientists, communicators, leaders, politicians used it to tell the COVID-19 management story, some improved it to clarify inputs like Health Carers and it has become 'speak' for governments and media. No one called bullshit on it and everyone rallied it. Obviously it was far from the only conversation on the issue of how the disease was managed, but it is certainly the most widely circulated, no matter where a country or location stands on the subject.
AND THAT IS WHY THE CLIMATE MOVEMENT HAS GOT TO TAKE A MINUTE TO UNDERSTAND THIS KIND OF CUT THROUGH. THE CLEAR MESSAGE TO US THROUGH THIS CRISIS ISN'T THAT EMISSIONS ARE DROPPING FASTER THAN YEARS OF CLIMATE TALKS OR THAT CHINA ALREADY SEEMS TO BE ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE PANDEMIC THROUGH TIGHT CONTROLS.
THE MESSAGE IS THAT WE NEED TO FIND A WAY TO COMMUNICATE WHAT IS GOING TO HAPPEN NEXT WITH CLIMATE CRISIS. NOT ALL THE PROOF POINTS OF WHAT HAS HAPPENED, BUT AN EASY PICTURE OF HOW IT CAN BE MANAGED & CONSEQUENCES.
Sometimes I think we in the climate movement tackle climate communications like my inbox right now. It's littered with messages addressed directly to Jennifer, 'signed off' by important CEOs I don't know, telling me that they care about my health, before covering off their new work practices that are entirely irrelevant to me. Then there are other mailers also addressed to Jennifer, telling me that they care for my mental health and crooning about love in the time of coronavirus, counselling caring for each other, and asking for a donation. IT STRIKES ME THAT MY REACTION TO THESE MAILERS IS PROBABLY PRETTY MUCH THE SAME AS HOW MOST OF THE CLIMATE DISINTERESTED OR DENIERS SEE GRETA THUNBERG AND CLIMATE CHANGE COW.
The climate movement has been handed a real chance at getting more meaning as we emerge from COVID-19. We need versions of the 'graph'. We need to find more ways to get cut through once this pandemic dies down and before life re-assembles back to bad habits.
Right now, like everyone else, the leaders, CEOs, Scientists, Activists, Researchers and members of the climate movement are flying way less, commuting less and learning how to communicate in different ways. NOW IS A REAL OPPORTUNITY TO LOOK AT OUR OWN BEHAVIOUR & HABITS AND WHAT THEY SAY ABOUT OUR PERSONAL LEADERSHIP. SUPPORTING THE NOTION THAT THE HOUSE IS ON FIRE, WHILE CLEARLY IN POSSESSION OF A BOX OF MATCHES - SOME OF WHICH ARE LIT - IS PROBABLY NOT THE BEST LEADERSHIP. AND IT MAKES US A TARGET.
If I haven't already ignited a brawl, this might. One of the big (elephant in the room) problems in the very broad climate movement church is that everyone owns their own narrative. It's natural because we have so many flanks. But we need a way more cohesive narrative. Everyone thinks their sermon is the most relevant. Everyone has their own followers. Everyone wants to be the Martin Luther King of their end of the climate woods.
We have to find a way to unite these voices. They all count, but they need to be raised together.