June 09, 2016
Make Hot "Cool"
According to the Bureau
of Labor Statistics, the average worker currently holds ten different jobs
before age forty, and this number is projected to grow. (WSJ)
Oliver Rosengart, now in his seventies, was ahead of his time and has had nearly as
many careers having been a lawyer, engineer, psychologist, and teacher of urban
studies. Not content to retire, he now works part time as a mediator and
arbitrator in construction disputes and coop-condominium disputes, and, as if
that were not enough, he volunteers and teaches global warming to kids in New
York high schools..
It’s that current volunteer work that interests The Metaphor Minute this month,
Keep It Cool
High school kids are a tough audience. You have to keep your material
interesting, relevant, and dramatic. Metaphors and analogies solve that problem.
Before he can get the kids interested in global warming, he has to explain what
the greenhouse effect is, which causes global warming. And, he has to explain
that effect in terms to which they can relate. Drum roll, please, for Ollie’s
greenhouse effect] is exactly like the effect on a car when the windows are
closed in the summer. In the car, the sun’s rays heat the seat, the seat
radiates heat upward, the heat cannot escape due to the roof of the car and
therefore the car gets hotter and hotter. With the earth, the sun’s rays
heat up the surface of the earth, the earth radiates some of that heat
outward toward space, some of that heat is absorbed by the greenhouse gases
which radiate some of that heat back to earth, and so the earth gets hotter.
The greenhouse effect on earth is necessary for life since without it the
temperature of the earth would be about 0 degrees Fahrenheit, which is too
cold for liquid water and therefore too cold for life.
However, when there is too much heat being
produced and then radiated back to the earth, we get global warming, which
could be catastrophic for life on the planet.
supporting slide for this explanation, he presents his point of view by
showing a spaceship next to the sun. Then he says,
occupants are wondering whether there is intelligent life on earth. If we
continue to emit greenhouse gases they will conclude that there isn’t any!
in his course, he notes,
One of the concepts that is difficult for people to grasp is that the
various kinds of energy that have powered human society have changed
drastically over the years.
ancient times there was nothing but wood in addition to human power for
heat and for cooking.
Something like 5000 years ago animals began to be used for farming. They
are still used for farming in many parts of the world.
ancient times, water power began to be used from ﬂowing streams and
rivers. The water powered water wheels for grinding grain.
Also in ancient times wind powered boats in the Mediterranean.
is only in the last 250 years or so, a blink of an eye in terms of human
history, that fossil fuels have been used for energy.
home how really recent the use of fossil fuels is by concluding,
“If human life has existed for 200,000 years and fossil fuels have been used
for 250 years, that is equivalent
to fossil fuels being used for two minutes in a 24 hour day.”
Ollie’s topic is both complex and controversial. Yet, he held his
audience’s attention by weaving familiar images in with his facts so that
they could see what he was talking about, feel comfortable that they
understood what he was saying, and be motivated to think about a topic that
was not previously high up on their mental radar screens.
What complex information do you explain? What metaphors or analogies can you
- simplify that complexity?
- promote understanding? or
- dramatize your point?
Make What You Say Pay! — with Metaphors
For further reading on global warming, "This
Changes Everything" by Naomi Klein; "The
Sixth Extinction" by Elizabeth Kolbert; and you can see
Ollie's presentation with slides on
(Summer Business Reading)
Find some shade, kick back, and dig in to these
2016 Best Books to help you sell
more Happy to say I made the list with “The Tall Lady
With the Iceberg” (see below)
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