Those of us who accept the scientific consensus on climate change are often flabbergasted by those who still deny the science. We think they must be ignorant of the facts, stubborn, or worse. How can they not cannot grasp the urgency of the situation, the risks to our way of life, and to life itself. We try to change their minds at every turn, we throw facts at them, post articles on social media, and get into arguments. All to no avail. We are left frustrated, they are left frustrated, and no one has come any closer to bridging the gap in beliefs. What are we doing wrong? How can we make them see the light?
Well let’s explore a little analogy. Say you and a bunch of other people decide to make a small fire in a closet of your house. I know it sounds crazy but you were cold and this was a quick inexpensive way to get heat now with the technology at hand. The fire is not yet producing a bunch of heat, and smoke can only be seen in the bedroom the closet is in. You go into your living room, turn on your TV, settle into your recliner, and tune to your favorite program. Once you are good and comfortable you start yelling at the top of your lungs that the house is on fire. The other occupants in the house all hear you. Those who have been in the bedroom and seen the smoke believe you and leave the house. The others all look at you like you are crazy. They may even grab some earplugs so they don’t have to listen to your noise. They don’t exit the house though. If there was really a fire you would be leaving the house too right?
This analogy is by no means perfect but when we scream and yell about climate change, but continue with our high consumption lifestyles, is it really surprising that people fail to take us seriously? If we are telling them that we are at a tipping point and about to irrecoverably damage our environment but then hop in our over-sized vehicle to drive the half mile to the store, is it really inconceivable that they doubt our facts? When we sit around and wait for governments and industry to take the lead in slowing climate change but do nothing to inconvenience ourselves we undermine our integrity.
So the next time climate change comes up don’t shower the disbeliever in facts. Connect with them on an emotional level, let them know what you are afraid of AND what you personally are doing to counteract that. Your dedication may motivate them to do their own research. And if you are not doing anything personally, now is past time to start. With our newly sworn in president, Donald Trump, who not only denies climate science but is actively dismantling environmental protections, the burden of change falls on us.