Thursday, December 15, 2022

The Climate Ostrich

If We Remain Climate Ostriches, Billions of Our Children May Die

Real ostriches dig holes in the sand and occasionally put their heads into the holes. They do it not to hide from danger but to protect their progeny, the future of their species. They lay their eggs into the holes to keep them safe and put their heads into the holes to care for the eggs.

Climate ostriches are not real ostriches but humans like you and me, who bury our heads in the sand so we don’t have to think about or see the effects of climate change. Most of us are climate ostriches who would rather not worry about the deaths of our progeny, the possible extinction of our species.

Why Are We Climate Ostriches?

I’ve asked this question to a lot of people. One of the best answers was from a retired CIA spy (really and truly) who happens to have a degree in geology. He said, “Of course I know that disasters such as wildfires, floods, hurricanes, droughts are getting worse and happening with increasing frequency and intensity. But I don’t know whether that’s human caused or what to do about it. Nor do I want to know. Scientists and Government decision makers who understand this better than I do will fix it. I don’t want to think about it. It’s too depressing.”

I’ve also asked this question to literary agents, cybersecurity experts, salespeople, and even an attorney who spent nine years in jail for child molestation (again, really and truly). They said things like, “I’m too busy trying to keep a roof over my head, food on the table, and taking care of my family. I don’t have time to read what scientists say, and I was never good at science anyway. Will my not eating meat or making my home uncomfortably hot or cold to save energy keep people from dying? I can’t see how. It doesn’t make sense. Somebody else will figure it all out and take care of it. That’s how things always work. I’d rather not deal with it. Stopping climate change is not for me.”

Can Experts Prevent Disaster If We Keep Our Heads in the Sand?

No, not quickly enough! If most of us keep our heads in the sand, billions will die. We know we must reduce the carbon we put into the atmosphere and remove the carbon that’s already there. We know every second we delay will cause more and more people to die from wildfires, droughts, hurricanes, floods and other climate-related disasters. If we delay long enough (years rather than seconds), many, many people will die not just from these disasters but also from starvation as drought and heat damage world agriculture, from cities washed away by sea-level rise, from diseases caused by vector migration, from the death of the phytoplankton that makes most of our oxygen, or simply from heat stroke.

Yet we continue to delay. Why? Because even those in power are climate ostriches. Dr. James E. Hansen testified about the climate disasters to the U.S. Congress and Presidents, and even Chinese leaders starting in the 1980s, but they kept their heads in the sand. He still speaks to them, and he’s been joined by thousands of other climate scientists all telling of the climate tragedies we can prevent. But we’re not preventing them. Those who can prevent them remain climate ostriches.

Because of climate ostriches, we keep increasing the amount of carbon we put into the atmosphere. We do almost no drawing it out of the atmosphere. The temperatures keep rising, and more and more people die.

If Climate Ostriches Quickly Go Extinct, Can We Mitigate Climate Disaster?

Yes! We know how to stop putting carbon into the atmosphere and how to remove carbon that’s already there. We’re doing some of it already but not enough and not fast enough. We are still increasing the carbon we put into the air and removing very little.

So how do we mitigate climate disaster? How do we stop being climate ostriches? We pull our heads out of the sand and become friendly: climate friendly. What does climate friendly mean? I have four things in mind:

1.   Vote climate friendly: vote for climate-friendly candidates; vote against climate ostriches

a.     This will change Government funding concerning the climate. If done well, it will not increase taxes but will move money from climate destroyers to climate savers.

b.     It will change Government legislation to encourage citizens, industrialists, and investors to help fix the climate.

c.      It also will increase the number of climate-friendly judges, so judicial decisions will help fix the climate and not hurt it.

2.     Buy climate friendly products. We switched from boxy TVs and computer displays to flat panels incredibly quickly. The same was with pay phones to cell phones and with horses to cars. Purchasing power is incredibly strong. We need to buy climate-friendly, such as:

  a.   Buy homes with solar panels and heat pumps

  b.   Buy electric cars

  c.   Buy food from climate-friendly companies (Lipton, Mars, and General Mills purchase from farmers using methods that pull carbon out of the air)

3.      Invest in climate friendly corporations/financial firms (ask your 401K/financial advisors for ESG)

4.      Be friendly. Talk to your friends and neighbors about climate. Persuade them not to be climate ostriches.

How Do We Persuade Climate Ostriches to Take Their Heads Out of the Sand?

Sigmund Freud and his sister married a brother and sister (really and truly once more). Freud’s double nephew, Edward Bernays, made use of Freud’s ideas to become the undisputed father of public relations, the techniques and methodology of persuading large numbers of people.

Scientists use technical terms like ppm, degrees Celsius, and CO2. These have nothing to do with Freudian desires and are boring with no persuasive value. Note they were not used in this article. Caring for progeny and the future of one’s species are Freudian desires but less strong than sex. The same is true for friendship and our fascination with interesting animals such as the Ostrich. Prose text articles are limited in the use of Bernays persuasion techniques. That is where art comes into play.

Harriet Beecher Stowe predated Bernays, but her UNCLE TOM’S CABIN used the same techniques he described. That is why her book played a role in ending slavery in the United States. (Abraham Lincoln is reported to have said to Stowe, “So you’re the lady who started this great war”). I am using the same techniques in my novel, MOURNING DOVE, to persuade climate ostriches to take their heads out of the sand and help mitigate climate disaster. Having readers identify with characters who experience Freudian sexuality, love, ecstasy, and even mourning can be very persuasive. Many novels have changed the world: GRAPES OF WRATH, 1984, THE JUNGLE, THE GULAG ARCHIPELAGO, and many others. I am trying to do the same.

We need other artwork incorporating Bernays techniques for persuasion. Bob Dylan’s music helped persuade the U.S. to end the Vietnam War. The movie TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD fought Jim Crow America. Picasso’s Guernica is a powerful anti-war work of art. Picasso once even went so far as to declare, “Painting is not made to decorate apartments; it is an offensive and defensive instrument of war against the enemy.”

It takes a lot to pull the heads of millions of climate ostriches out of the sand. If you are a great artist and can use the techniques of Edward Bernays, we need you.

Who am I? Why am I writing this? I have recently finished a powerful global warming novel as part of my personal war against the climate crisis. Please help. Friend me on Facebook, Follow me on Twitter, and connect with me on LinkedIn. I need a great literary agent and a great publishing company to market the novel and print a lot of copies. Agents and publishers look at an author's social media numbers as a sign of potential buyers. So please Friend me, Follow me, and Connect with me, and comment on what I post. Consider it as doing a small part in saving humanity from the ravages of global warming. Thanks.

Friday, August 12, 2022

Agent Query for "NEVER AGAIN!" Novel MOURNING DOVE

Good Mourning <FirstNameOfAgent>,

My mother’s baby cousin was bayonetted to death in the arms of his mother, my grandmother’s sister. The Holocaust cry “NEVER AGAIN!” is why I wrote MOURNING DOVE. Climate apocalypse may return such horror. Can a novel prevent it? Yes, with an OMG family dream; quirky, lovable characters; can’t-stop-reading plot; and spirit-lifting romance. 

FAMILY: The genre for MOURNING DOVE is “family saga.” Its multi-generation family mission is to save the remaining life on Earth, then rebuild human civilization, joining other family members leading that effort in Antarctica. The family fears the dangers of the post-apocalypse mixed with inter-family hatred ongoing for over a century. 

CHARACTER: Ttuuee. His sister, Jen, shouts, “Shoot him, Ttuuee,” but he doesn’t and she dies. In mourning, Ttuuee turns into a diamond: hard and brilliant, with sparkling, acerbic humor shining through. Gerta. Haunted by nightmares of tumbling as a baby from her dying mother’s arms, she wears only a quiver of arrows and magnificent, impressionist camo paint. She’s the painted witch. Snana. Composing a Lakota symphony to honor her full blood, she plays the furious third movement of Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata when furious at Ttuuee. She’s the Rembrandt girl. 

PLOT: The family of climate scientists, engineers, and sharpshooters ends their extinction-prevention efforts in Alaska to fight their way to Antarctica. They battle desperate post-apocalypse enslavers; they adopt Gerta; with her help Ttuuee saves his father from a terrible disease, they defeat pirates at sea, they overcome an evil queen; and then join in rebuilding humanity. 

ROMANCE: In the final pages Ttuuee slips a billion-dollar engagement ring onto Snana’s finger. 

Random House published my novella "Oceans Away" in Stellar Short Novels. I was a ghostwriter for U.S. Senator Paula Hawkins. Her op-eds I wrote appeared in major newspapers. Articles under my name are in national journals. I studied writing under my master’s thesis creative writing professor, novelist J.R. Salamanca. I participated for years in SF-editor Ted White’s “Vicious Circle” workshops. I am a recognized climate change blogger. I have 66,000 social media connections/friends. I’ve already mentioned cover blurbs with some of the more famous. 

MOURNING DOVE's target audience is anyone who fears climate disaster, or who already experienced wildfires, floods, or worse. Comparable books are Holsinger's family saga DISPLACEMENTS, and Bacigalupi's strong character novel WATER KNIFE. MOURNING DOVE was inspired by UNCLE TOM’S CABIN and GRAPES OF WRATH, novels that changed the world. 

I am querying you because your MSWL shows interest in character, plot, and romance and includes the family saga genre. MOURNING DOVE is complete at 81,000 words. This is a multiple submission. Thank you for your time and consideration.

Richard Shawn Weinstein, SFWA member      
Writing as Shawn Oueinsteen 

Monday, July 4, 2022

Mitigating Climate Disaster Needs Madison Avenue, Now!


Despite wildfires, droughts, floods, hurricanes, and other disasters getting more deadly and killing increasing numbers of people every year, we keep making the climate worse instead of better. How do we stop that? What can we do? We need the almighty dollar to talk and we need Madison Avenue to tell it what to say.

If slick, persuasive, Madison-Avenue-style advertising tells homeowners and building owners that roofs with solar panels provide cheaper, more reliable energy that, incidentally, prevents climate-caused tragedy, Americans will install solar. If Madison Avenue advertises to food buyers and food producers that food produced with weathering fertilizer is healthier and cheaper than food grown with old-style fertilizer and that, incidentally, it might save life on Earth, then buyers will buy such foods and food producers will produce them. (Weathering fertilizer, which may come from crushed calcium-based rock, draws carbon down from the air, producing calcium carbonate materials that stay out of the atmosphere, decreasing the amount of heating of the planet.) There are many other things Madison Avenue can do, for example advertising for heat pumps, electric cars, electric stoves, ovens, water heaters, and food from farmers who practice regenerative agriculture, as well as advertising for more energy efficient windows, doors, and outer-wall insulation. There are too many such things to mention, but you get the idea. Madison Avenue is the dollar whisperer. With Government taking very little action to help save life on Earth. Madison Avenue should be whispering in the dollar’s ear to save us from climate disaster. Think how quickly we switched to cell phones and flat-panel televisions and monitors. When the all-mighty dollar talks, people do what it tells them, and they do it quickly. We need that now. Madison Avenue, start whispering in the dollar’s ear.

Yes, I know Madison Avenue as the Almighty Dollar whisperer is a cute metaphor that might make some sense, but how does this metaphor achieve results? As someone involved with climate change, I am a member of many climate organizations. These include, Climate Reality Project, Citizens Climate Lobby (CCL), Renewable Energy World, Climate Change Network, The Nature Conservancy, Earth Justice, and many, many more. All these groups do something to help the climate but what is the sum of the results from these groups? The amount of CO2 in the atmosphere keeps increasing and the world gets hotter. As a contributor to them, it seems to me the major work of these groups is raising money from small donors like me. I propose they should spend their money on advertising to the consumer.

I receive many awful advertisements (not Madison-Avenue quality) from companies that install solar panels, install heat pumps, sell electric stoves, and electric water heaters, etc. Personally, I ignore most of these ads because they are from companies that profit from whatever they can sell me. I don't trust them. However, if The Climate Reality Project,, or other major climate organizations sent me Madison-Avenue-quality documents explaining to me which solar roof companies are best, what to buy from them, how much it costs, and how it benefits me and the planet, I’d believe them and spend my money. I am not alone. Most consumers feel the same way I do. CCL and most of these organizations have been trying to lobby Congress and the White House for years, to no avail. With an obstructionist legislative branch of Government and a denier majority on the Supreme Court, continuing what they have been doing makes no sense. Instead, we should use Madison Avenue to change the buying habits of consumers to purchase top-quality products they need that, incidentally, help the planet. Today, that is the best way to mitigate climate disaster.

Who am I? Why am I writing this? I have recently finished a powerful global warming novel as part of my personal war against the climate crisis. Please help. Friend me on Facebook, Follow me on Twitter, and connect with me on LinkedIn. I need a great literary agent and a great publishing company to market the novel and print a lot of copies. Agents and publishers look at an author's social media numbers as a sign of potential buyers. So please Friend me, Follow me, and Connect with me, and comment on what I post. Consider it as doing a small part in saving humanity from the ravages of global warming. Thanks.