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Here are the things that caught my eye in 2014.

Some are noteworthy but unnoticed. Others soaked up a lot of well-deserved attention and ink.

All contributed to the growing tide of awareness that climate change action is urgently needed now.

Feb 28
Shell Bets on solar as dominant energy source by 2100, in little-noticed report

Carbon Brief

Mar 19
Pope Francis assumes the Papacy and chooses the patron saint of the environment
as his name
Pope Francis carpools, downsizes, blesses, kisses, lives modestly, and reminds the world to care for the world’s poorest people. In his homily, Francis described the church’s mission as “respecting each of God’s creatures and respecting the environment in which we live.”
The Guardian

April 10
Ceres’ Business for Innovative Climate and Energy Policy (BICEP) launches the Climate Declaration
Climate Counts

April 18
Carbon Tracker releases its Unburnable Carbon report
New York Times

April 18
Bill McKibben’s 350.org’s fossil fuel divestment group releases “Do the Math”
Good

May 10
Climate hits 400ppm of CO2 for first time in 3 million years
Treehugger

June 25
President Obama announces his Climate Plan
The White House

Aug 19
IPPC report predicts near certainty on human-caused climate change
New York Times

Oct 10
LA Times announces it won’t public climate denier letters
Grist

Oct 24
Acknowleging reality and poking the bear, investors ask oil, coal and power companies for climate risk information
Forbes
Ceres

Nov 7
Super Typhoon Haiyan makes landfall in the Phillippines
Wikipedia

Nov 11
Yeb Sano pleads for climate action at the UN meeting in Warsaw
Youtube

Nov 21
Civil society and environmental groups walk out of UN Climate meeting talks to protest inaction
The Guardian

Dec 6
Signaling a foregone conclusion, 29 companies reveal they are already factoring a carbon price into their finances
Carbon Disclosure Project

Dec 16
Demonstrating momentum for pro-science climate action, Reddit science forum bans climate deniers

Grist

I’m all for storytelling.

But when communications go wrong, it can really mess things up.

There’s a time and a place for jokes. And for satire.

A provocative approach can jar readers into thinking about things in a new way.

But when you are talking to an international audience across many languages, keep it simple.

Have you ever noticed how diplomats talk to audiences? They use simple words and talk in simple sentences. The clearer they speak, the better they will be understood.

(I like to think that the world’s political translators appreciate this approach.)

Anyway, something really weird happened this morning in the climate change communications world.

Here’s what happened.

Poland is hosting the world’s UN climate talks next month in Warsaw. It’s an important meeting about a gravely serious topic. It’s a huge honor and responsibility to host this kind of worldwide event.

But for some reason, someone decided to try something a little different.

The official Polish website for the meeting published a blog post. It started off just fine with the famous Northwest Passage. Fair topic. The fact that the Northwest Passage is open to sea traffic for the first time in recorded history due to melting sea ice is stunning physical evidence of climate change.

But then the copy swerves. The next sentences describe Poland’s plans to plunder natural resources previously locked under the ice.

Oh, and pirates. And terrorists.

What? (Click the image to see bigger.)

Warsaw COP19 blog

Via theguardian.com:

Arctic melt means more pirate chases, say Polish climate hosts

Melting ice could open the Arctic to new drilling and the opportunity to “chase pirates, terrorists and ecologists”, according to the organisers of this year’s UN climate talks in Poland, in comments that have been branded outrageous by campaigners.

The blogpost, published this week on the Polish site for November’s Warsaw meeting, said that not only would melting ice allow ships to cut their journey times by taking the north-west passage, but “we may also build new drilling platforms and retrieve natural resources hidden below the sea bed”.

It added that there was also the possibility of, “Chasing the pirates, terrorists and ecologists that will come to hang around …”

This blew up on Twitter this morning with the hashtag #COP19. Shortly thereafter, the blog was updated with an apology.

Via cop19.gov.pl:

Dear Readers,

For the time being we decided to take some time away from our blog. Our idea was to focus attention on important issues that need good solutions and spark discussions on those.  We did not foresee that some readers would take thepresented texts literally as the official Polish position. Notwithstanding we would like to express regret as some of you found the text to be inappropriate. We acknowledge these criticisms. It was certainly not our aim to offend anybody.

We will take due care  that all new articles and posts on this website are written in a clear and sensitive manner so as to avoid misunderstandings. Stay tuned for more ideas.

What the heck happened?

Is this a case of “Lost in Translation?”

One person on Twitter even asked if it could be a hacker prank by The Yes Men.

My communications spidey-sense says no. I’m betting on “Bold Idea Gone Bad.”

RTCC also has a great round-up of this morning’s tweets and a broader look at some of the issues.

In any event, it’s an embarrassment for the UNFCCC, and for the Poland team who is responsible for the event.

Somebody might get fired over this mistake. Bigger picture, this could cost Poland their hosting role for this meeting.

Lesson learned. Know your audience. Keep it simple.

 Update from the Minister of the Environment of Poland: