Monday, October 29, 2007

Changing Minds on Climate Change

The problem of Global Warming has been discussed often by those who are much more informed than I, but with Georgia currently in the worst drought in 50 years I thought I might add my two cents:

I find it disturbing that we aren't doing a lot more to stop the damage of Global Warming. I am no climatologist, and thus I am not really able to judge the merits of various climate models. I would imagine that most people (even the intelligent or well-informed) similarly cannot judge climate science. Public opinion, however, is the arena in which this movement will succeed or fail. A large group of climatologists recently issued a statement saying global warming is happening, people are causing it, and it is happening faster than previously thought.

Some people are still skeptical. While I cannot judge the validity of the science, something I have noticed both in most media and private conversation on the issue are some tendencies that seem to accompany skepticism about climate change:

1) A sense of entitlement about consumption. It is the God-given right of every free person to live with bright lights, big cars, and nice things. The threat of climate change must be false because the cuts in consumption required to stop it would kill the “American Dream.”

2) Confidence that the world is impervious. The earth is immense. It was here before we were born and will be here long after we are gone. One can accept that humans can do small damage like pollute a river, but the idea that the ancient earth can be irreversibly damaged by mortal men seems absurd.

While these ideas appear to be a major factor in public objection to action on climate change, I'm not sure they are even addressed the public discussion, or that those that hold them are even quite conscious that such ideas are the reason that they feel that man-made global warming “just can't be real.”

I think I am accepting of climate change because I do not hold to these presuppositions. I find the general level of Western consumption (including my own) to be downright indecent, and having seen plenty of desecration of the environment at local levels I don't see why global damage wouldn't take place.

Climatologists will continue to put out statements based on research that most of us will never understand. While most scientists seem to be in agreement, skeptics will still always have climatologist dissenters to affirm their suspicions. Rather than playing “my scientist vs. your scientist” comparing studies we don't comprehend, perhaps we should look into our basic ideas about the world.

Advocating ideas of stewardship and conservation as wise alternatives to consumption and recklessness with creation, may convince more people than any studies or expert panels. (Even more than Al Gore with his Oscar, Nobel Prize, and monstrous energy consumption with mansions and private jets.)

1 comment:

JD said...

For a much more intellectual discussion on people changing opinions on climate change you should read John Drake's blog: HERE