Monday, December 12, 2016

The Conversion of a Climate Denier

I had the good fortunes of recently re-connecting with a friend thru social media who I lost touch with since high school.  For sake of anonymity, I'll refer to him as Jim.  In recent days, Jim had responded to a few of my FB posts about climate change and yet he remained unclear where he stood on the issue.  When I asked him directly, Jim shared about his uncertainty of the existence of climate change and tended to believe that humanity's influence on our climate was impossible to know given that our earth has experienced many climate changes throughout its history without the aid of people.  Jim's position mirrored what I recognized as the official stance of the conservative climate denier regarding climate change.

It was a quiet Saturday morning at home, which is not always the case with two children, so I took the time to sit down and thoughtfully reply to Jim as to why climate change is real and deadly threat; I posted my response below.  I was quite surprised when Jim wrote back and felt I was right yet how hard it was for him to untangle himself from a conservative ideology he'd carried through most of his life.  I was so happy to hear Jim make this shift that I shared what I'd written on a FB post that attracted considerable attention and comments.  To my surprise, Jim outed himself on the thread and began to converse with others who'd posted comments and before my eyes, an intelligent, respectful conversation ensued about climate change and what needs to be done to address it.

Now I suspect Jim was already on the bubble about climate change and my influence helped him finally let go of his old, misinformed beliefs to see the truth of climate change.  Yet, I do want to highlight that my willingness to continually speak up about climate change in a thoughtful and civil manner was essential to Jim hearing what I had to say.  We all need to resist judging those who believe otherwise (with the possible exception of those in power who I believe purposely deceive the public) or those who have taken an apathetic stance on climate change such as "Oh, I don't get involved in politics" or "What could I do anyway".

For those of us who get the Science of climate change, we understand that this is not an issue we can just look away given its vast and deadly impact on life as we know it, particularly for those most vulnerable and who had nothing to do with creating the problem.  We must press on and stay the course of empowerment to not only take individual responsibility for minimizing our carbon footprint and standing up to fossil fuel interests but also calling others to do the same. The current political landscape of America couldn't be worst for addressing climate change and it would seem easy to lose hope, yet I hope my story of Jim brings hope and light moving forward!

And now, here is my response:
Back in the 70s, Science discovered that our actions were causing a hole in the stratosphere layer of our atmosphere due to the use of chloroflouracarbons ad similar chemicals. We listened to science and took action, banning CFCs and other similar substances. Problem fixed.
Science is now telling us that the use of fossil fuels as well as release of methane is causing our planet to warm, understood as a simple scientific concept of the greenhouse effect. The atmosphere is finite and closed , causing greater amounts carbon dioxide to be present as well as absorbed in our oceans. We can actually measure the amount of CO2 as we recently passed 400ppm; Science says we need to keep it around 350ppm if we hope to ward off the devastating effects that come along with a warming planet. What's particularly sickening is that those most affected in the world will be those from impoverished countries who have a minimal carbon footprint and really have nothing to do with creating these circumstances. 
Science is showing us lots of evidence that our planet is warming and climate becoming unstable: polar ice caps melting at an unprecedented rate; record breaking global temps year after year, a mass die off of coral reefs due to a warming ocean, and extraordinary storms and droughts across the planet. Science can easily predict future models of where we are headed given our current and predicted future rate of carbon use, estimating a planet 10-12 degrees warmer which too me is a frightening reality to consider.
Its hard for me to understand how people just come to accept that this is the natural evolution of the planet and conclude why do anything about it. The Science is clear that the widespread use of fossil fuels and methane is a bad for the current biosyjtem that supports all of life on the planet (and has for at least the past 65 million years). I believe we can all agree that fossil fuels is a particularly dirty pollutant with tons of health risks. And now we know that by way of Science that our use of it is literally changing the bio-mechanisms of our planet. 
Yet much like the tobacco industry who put out propaganda to dispute the science that cigarettes cause lung cancer, powerful corporate interests and their allies in our government have smeared the findings of Science. It is bad for their business model and their own greed fuels them onward. They've successfully created propaganda that says somehow you are betraying your conservative ideology to accept Science which to me is absurd.
What is being asked here by advocates of climate change? That we end our dependence on fossil fuels and move quickly to truly clean and sustainable energy sources like solar, wind, tidal, and geothermal. That we invest and incentive these energies which are ultimately healthier for people and the planet. That our actions actually reflect a love and respect for life and we do all we can to protect life and live in harmony with it. Seems like basic Sunday school stuff to me. It will require a sacrifice for many but well worth it if we truly love our children and grandchildren who will inherit the mess we are creating. (I know so many people who love their children with all their heart yet seem to have no interest in protecting the future their children will inherit). 
Its dumbfounding to me to fall suspect to mankind will eventually die off because that is how evolution works when there is an answer right in front of us. Yet in the current political and economic realities, it will require that hundreds of millions of people across the globe stand up in solidarity to the powers to be that continue to deny global warming and double down on fossil fuels. The people truly have the power to create an energy transformation and this revolution has already begun and everyone is welcome to join. It is our collective actions that can make the difference and alter a most horrific trajectory that we are currently on. 
I implore everyone to take the time to educate themselves on the Science of climate change and make time to be active in the solution. There is so much that can be done and our collective efforts can make a huge difference! When we allow ourselves to truly "love" life with all our being, as well love our children, how we cannot want to do all we can to protect and preserve it.