December 6, 2009

What I say to those who aren’t sure they believe in Global Warming.

Update: Arnold Schwarzenegger just ranted about Climate Change–and it’s awesome:

Arnold Schwarzenegger: I don’t give a **** if we agree about climate change. — “I’m guessing you chose the Door Number Two, with the electric car, right? Door number one is a fatal choice – who would ever want to breathe those fumes?”(self.environment)

submitted by BlankVerse


I don’t give a **** if we agree about climate change.


I see your questions.

Each and every time I post on my Facebook page or tweet about my crusade for a clean energy future, I see them.

There are always a few of you, asking why we should care about the temperature rising, or questioning the science of climate change.

I want you to know that I hear you. Even those of you who say renewable energy is a conspiracy. Even those who say climate change is a hoax. Even those of you who use four letter words. I’ve heard all of your questions, and now I have three questions for you.

Let’s put climate change aside for a minute. In fact, let’s assume you’re right.

First – do you believe it is acceptable that 7 million people die every year from pollution? That’s more than murders, suicides, and car accidents – combined.

Every day, 19,000 people die from pollution from fossil fuels. Do you accept those deaths? Do you accept that children all over the world have to grow up breathing with inhalers?

Now, my second question: do you believe coal and oil will be the fuels of the future?

Besides the fact that fossil fuels destroy our lungs, everyone agrees that eventually they will run out. What’s your plan then?

I, personally, want a plan. I don’t want to be like the last horse and buggy salesman who was holding out as cars took over the roads. I don’t want to be the last investor in Blockbuster as Netflix emerged. That’s exactly what is going to happen to fossil fuels.

A clean energy future is a wise investment, and anyone who tells you otherwise is either wrong, or lying. Either way, I wouldn’t take their investment advice.

Renewable energy is great for the economy, and you don’t have to take my word for it. California has some of the most revolutionary environmental laws in the United States, we get 40% of our power from renewables, and we are 40% more energy efficient than the rest of the country. We were an early-adopter of a clean energy future.

Our economy has not suffered. In fact, our economy in California is growing faster than the U.S. economy. We lead the nation in manufacturing, agriculture, tourism, entertainment, high tech, biotech, and, of course, green tech.

I have a final question, and it will take some imagination. There are two doors. Behind Door Number One is a completely sealed room, with a regular, gasoline-fueled car. Behind Door Number Two is an identical, completely sealed room, with an electric car. Both engines are running full blast.

I want you to pick a door to open, and enter the room and shut the door behind you. You have to stay in the room you choose for one hour. You cannot turn off the engine. You do not get a gas mask. I’m guessing you chose the Door Number Two, with the electric car, right? Door number one is a fatal choice – who would ever want to breathe those fumes?

This is the choice the world is making right now.

To use one of the four-letter words all of you commenters love, I don’t give a damn if you believe in climate change. I couldn’t care less if you’re concerned about temperatures rising or melting glaciers. It doesn’t matter to me which of us is right about the science.

I just hope that you’ll join me in opening Door Number Two, to a smarter, cleaner, healthier, more profitable energy future.

Update: a great list of simple answers to common doubts via Treehugger.

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.

Okay, to the main question: is Climate Change real? Or a hoax?

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).

…read the rest of “Johann Hari: How I wish that the global warming deniers were right”

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