Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Science is not everyone’s gospel

For many of us, science allows us to answer life’s biggest questions.

But for millions of Americans, science is just another subject they were forced to suffer through in high school.

Why does this matter? Because for those of us who are convinced that we need to do something drastic to save our planet from the effects of global warming, we need to convince these people before anything real will actually happen.

So when we dismiss the client change deniers as ‘lunatics’ or dismiss their arguments as ‘faux science’, we are not actually advancing our cause. For those who don’t worship at the alter of science, this just sounds like elitist name-calling. And it only serves to make skeptics dig their heels in deeper.

Have you ever taken a look at a climate change skeptic’s web page? To the untrained eye, it can be pretty convincing. They line up ‘facts’ that look just as ‘facty’ as the ones our side puts up. They use arguments that sound just as reasonable as ours. And they quote scientists whose jackets are just as white as the ones our guys and gals wear.

So how do you counter these arguments?

You can start by acknowledging that they exist. Then, you can take on their claims in a way that does not condescend or patronize. You can admit that lots of folks stand to gain money and power from the advancement of our solutions, just as their side does.

Lastly, you need to come across like a fucking human being. Stop pretending that the sacrifices required to combat climate change are no big deal. You’re asking people to change virtually every aspect of their lives. Drive an electric car. Put up solar panels. Stop working at the coal plant. Eat less meat.

Is this your first day on the planet? Have you not noticed that people hate change? A sliver of empathy could go a long way here. Perhaps we need Bill Clinton to take the lead and feel everyone’s pain.

If not, we’ll all be feeling the pain soon enough, and we’ll have no one to blame but ourselves.

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