As the world watches the Copenhagen talks, only approximately 50% of the American public now “believes” in “Global Warming.” That’s scary: global warming is something that effects us all, whatever side of the political aisle we sit on.
I’m a green journalist. I compost and turn my lights off, don’t own a car or a refrigerator and bike every day. I wear vintage clothing, and eat organic. I patronize local, independent businesses and generally try and live an eco-responsible life. I’m farrrr from perfect, of course—that’s not my aim. My aim, simply, is to live a “green” life, and to enjoy doing so.
So: stuck in an elevator with the masses of doubters and deniers, what would I say?
First of all, if you’re truly open to the facts, I’m happy to talk—if your belief is solid, ideological, I’d just shrug my shoulders and say, “hey buddy—I know you got no problem with American jobs. So support solar and wind over oil and natural gas, hey? Solar and wind create domestic jobs, and keep our money in America, and out of the hands of the oil-rich Middle East.” And then I’d raise a glass and move the conversation on to sports, or the weather—as Allen Ginsberg (quite the political activist in his day) said, “agression begets aggression.” There’s no point arguing with Uncle Glenn Beck—he’s too firmly, and happily, entrenched in his P.O.V.
But if I were talking with someone who’s genuinely unsure, confused, doubtful of the facts, I’d be mooore than happy to talk. I’d still, however, keep it brief. And go light on statistics. This needs to be about commonsense, not numbers (anyone can quote—and fudge—statistics).
First of all, I say a better term for Global Warming is Climate Change, because, in brief, the ocean currents drive weather and they don’t effect all areas of our planet equally. For instance, the poor pasty Brits up north will have to drink even mooore tea—Great Britain will get colder. Tough luck.
Keep it commonsense:
No one denies that our earth’s atmosphere is a big closed system, a big container…say, like a huuuge garage. And no one denies that if you turned a car on in a closed garage, it would kill you—in fact, it was one of the classic suicide techniques, at least before our government mandated catalytic converters (in the same way, we need our government mandating energy efficiency).
No one ever survived turning that car on in that garage unless they 1) opened the garage door…or 2) turned the car off. In this case, we can’t open the garage door (atmosphere). But we can turn the car off, so to speak—we can easily, dramatically reduce the output of the millions upon millions of cars, and the heat and pollution from buildings and cattle and factories, make ’em more energy efficient, less wasteful or reduce them in numbers…and power everything we do with clean, renewable, domestic energy. We have the technology to do so right now—and that technology, that green economy—means American jobs. It’s a win-win.
Usually, I find, if you make it non-ideological, non-political—people will cop to the fact that humans have a huge impact on our earth and air, and that—whether they believe it’s a hoax or due to sun spots or volcanoes or God or natural changes in the earth’s temperature—well it’s hard to deny that our millions upon millions of cars, homes, buildings, cattle and factories aren’t creating pollution and effecting our planet to some small, yet significant, degree.
And, as evidenced by 1,000s of stories from around the world, including right here in my backyard, the problem’s already here—it’s not some future hypothetical.
From the Independent in the aforementioned UK comes this take on how to talk to Climate Change Doubters:
…But then I go back to the facts. However much I want them to be different, they sit there, hard and immovable. Nobody disputes that greenhouse gases trap heat in the atmosphere, like a blanket holding in the Sun’s rays. Nobody disputes that we are increasing the amount of those greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. And nobody disputes that the world has become considerably hotter over the past century. (If you disagree with any of these statements, you’d fail a geography GCSE).