The Power of Visualisation

How we miscalculated the climate change

Marjan Krebelj

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When I was a member of a debate club at the Faculty of Law (despite being an architecture student), we often had workshops on proper and effective argumentation. How to persuade the opponent and, more importantly, the audience and the judges.

Photo by Bakhrom Tursunov on Unsplash

One of the most challenging skills to master was visualization. You must not only tell that this or that is bad, but you must also visualize the direct consequences of why it is bad. Those consequences have to be presented as vividly as possible, and the speaker has nothing but their imagination to do the job right.

It is not enough to argue that a specific policy is terrible because many people will lose jobs; the speaker has to visualize what that means on an everyday level.

When people lose jobs, they run into all sorts of problems; they have difficulty keeping up with the bills, their health deteriorates, and they are more often sick and in pain (imagine it!), plus they burden the medical services. Imagine those nurses being needlessly overworked and nervous with innocent patients. Do you want to be taken care of by such a nurse?

Also, their kids are doing poorly in school, they are less likely to develop their talents, and so the society loses many new potential Teslas, Beethovens, and Picassos. Imagine what they would have done!

For want of a nail the shoe was lost.
For want of a shoe the horse was lost.
For want of a horse the rider was lost.
For want of a rider the battle was lost.
For want of a battle the kingdom was lost.
And all for the want of a horseshoe nail.

Such argumentation is often an exaggeration to corner the listener into an inevitable conclusion, but it is not entirely disloyal to truth or justice. Sometimes the means are justified by ends.

Like in the case of climate change.

For decades we’ve been fed stories about how the sea level will rise by 10 cm and how the temperatures will go up by 1.x degree or something. For most people, this (1) doesn’t sound like much and (2) doesn’t say anything.

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Marjan Krebelj

Once an architect, now a freelance photographer/filmmaker with passion for words.