Reflection on Meeting Catherine Flowers

Reflection on Meeting Catherine Flowers

It was an invigorating experience to meet Catherine!

As someone who’s involved in policy, her actions take broad strokes in moving our local communities and our country forward towards resilience and climate change mitigation. She is part of a movement of community members, politicians, students, and public intellectuals – her actions are contributing to shifts in people’s conceptions of the issues as well as the motives of actual organizations and policy on-the-ground.

In the midst of the complete disembowelment of the EPA by the Trump Administration and Scott Pruitt, she is a very important person to know of and to meet, and someone with whom we can reflect on climate history as we’re experiencing it change before our eyes.

I enjoyed the passion with which she discussed environmental justice. As I mentioned to her, the extent to which effective, face-to-face communication is necessary to carry forward EJ work was surprising, but somehow not. Politics themselves are based on relationships. In designing nature’s futures, what roles do our communication strategies and the ways we deliver information serve?

This question has been on my mind for awhile. Catherine acknowledged immediately that you can’t always refer to “climate change” as such, because it turns people off. As we know from class, this bias is present on the internet as well. Information on the climate has been scrubbed from internet websites, and has been seen as being “one-sided” – Pruitt’s latest move this week was to release scientists who’ve received EPA grant funding, in a move to diversify and make the agency’s scientists more representative and “objective”.

This is classic Trump communication strategy – making “climate change” a concept that is political and that is believed by one group and not another as the cause of current environmental devastation. This makes it contemptible, and a huge issue in American politics at present is the nature of contempt that the two primary sides have for one another. It is being divisive for divisiveness’ sake – and conveniently turns people away from the issues, and focuses their attentions solely on their antithetical, political passions.

Hearing Catherine speak reminded me that there is a game being played with truth, information, discourse, and semantics. And in order to continue winning for the sake of our environment, I might argue that we need to engage with those conflicts as well, and push back. Otherwise we are missing the opportunity to bring information to people who are being told all the time by our current government that these issues don’t actually exist.

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