Climate Change Needs Changing
Let’s start here:
Is climate change real? Yes
Are humans partly responsible for this change? Yes
Are those changes bad for us? Yes.
Those are pretty straight forward questions with pretty straightforward answers. Answers that you are very likely to get consensus on from anyone you ask…expert or otherwise. That said, you know there are those that might answer “no” to those questions or at best, answer the question with a question (you know you’re not supposed to do that). So what’s with those people? Are they stupid? Are they evil and manipulative with a secret ultra-nefarious plan to take over the world? They may in fact be all of those things. I will posit something different here, though. And that difference is the key to understanding why this issue isn’t as cut and dry as it seems like it should be:
What’s their deal:
They’re no fools. The group that would answer those questions differently consists of some extremely bright and certainly talented people. Why, then, do they withhold their acceptance of this stuff; or more extreme, simply deny that any of the answers could be yes? The answer is that they simply don’t like being told what to think by a bunch of know-it-alls with an agenda. We are making the assumption that the folks we’re talking about actually do love planet earth; and that they want a healthy planet for their kids and grandkids down the road. What they don’t want is to listen to a class of elites that obviously (to them) have incentive to drive us all into thinking climate change is worse than it is.
One op-ed writer for the WSJ captured this sentiment when pointing out the fact that statements like “2016 is the warmest on record” may not be true if you adjust for margins of error: “U.S. government agencies stopped mentioning uncertainty ranges because they wanted to engender a steady succession of headlines pronouncing the latest year unambiguously the hottest when it wasn’t necessarily so.” (Holman Jenkins, WSJ 2/4/2017)
Or another op-ed by the same author that stated “They are the lies of people who know their employers and audiences are beyond caring” in reference to headlines like “Trump Picks Scott Pruitt, Climate Change Denialist, to Lead E.P.A.” His point, that the media and its cohorts are using club and pitch fork to come after those that don’t join the hoards who blame all the world’s woes and Exxon and their ilk.
We actually see their point. What gets lost in all the headline hysteria is that some very smart people have opted not to jump on the band wagon because the climate change machine, to them, ignores some very harsh realities. The type of realities that, if you live them, would be orders of magnitude more pressing than having the cleanest air. In some places a much bigger challenge is finding the next meal to eat or getting the lights turned on; and some of our “deniers” think that fixing those things first might lead to a future where more of the U.S’ and earth’s inhabitants are better off. That rising tide will ultimately lead to a better, cleaner more sustainable Earth for all.
Take Rex Tillerson’s predecessor’s speech in China on the issue of Climate Change where he cited that the science was un-certain — more specifically, the degree to which humans were impacting change in climate was uncertain. The statement, from a 1997 speech he gave in China, was largely true but ultimately became the headline to support any climate changer’s assertion that Exxon was the very manifestation of corporate greed and selfishness. He went on in that speech to say that poor countries should choose economic growth over suppressing fossil fuels and that doing so would lead to fewer people living in poverty (it did…some say nearly 1 billion fewer people) followed by poor countries devoting more of their new found wealth towards environmental improvement (they did and most indications are that trend will continue).
So then what:
The truth is uncertain. Facts, however, are not. The fact is that the climate is changing and the effects can be disastrous. That said, the world is run by politicians and they try to address the needs of those that elect them. Screaming about how bad climate change is and attacking those that question that assertion in the interest of trying to deliver better lives to those in their charge, has proven to be less than productive. The truth here is that in order to ensure that more people are encouraged to take action on a very real problem, we all need to do a lot more listening and understanding and a lot less screaming…with pitchforks.