Point is, as environmentalish peeps we have to recognize that despite public opinion poll after poll showing Americans are starting to come round to the rest of the world's view, fighting about climate change science by many but not all conservatives is still a reality. A big spin reality in our news media. A reality that doesn't reflect the enviro(ish) belief in people being smart, logical and good. Therefore, an unfortunate reality. And in the face of this reality, we have to choose if we engage or avoid this fight. I have decided that because people look to me on environmental/eco/green issues, I won't allow the deniers to "win" the opinion of people I know just because they are yelling the loudest and because I feel pressure to back down. Nobody puts baby in a corner. Truth is on the side of climate science, and the future of our livelihoods and planet hangs in the balance. IMHO, that's big enough to be worth purposeful engagement. In the face of such opposition, I stand even more firmly planted and use the following facts and tools below the jump. But before I get all practical on how to engage in this "fight" and arm you with my favorite "weapons", it's important you get the skinny. This is not a theoretical, abstract experience for me, and boy, it can be draining....
Climate is a fight that happens on my Facebook page. About a week ago, I posted a link to a PBS "It's Ok to be Smart" 6-min video on climate science encouraging friends to watch it for the good science included. Along with the link, I posted a comment on how I screen my dates for those who won't argue with me about climate change, and have interacted with many a red-faced fume-r as seen at 0:45. This was apparently an invitation for a neocon acquaintance I barely know to launch into multiple-essay-length posts arguing on climate change on said post, where he quoted climate change denier economists and bunk science. I engaged for a bit and then finally said I would uninvite him from my digital house if he continued and couldn't control himself (you have to put up boundaries eventually). But oh the irony! And oh how the irony was lost on him for being the red-faced fuming climate change denier that I had specifically said I don't like.
And it's a fight that happens on the national stage. When President Obama wasn't checking and directing about winning twice (#thuglife), he said the following on climate during the State of the Union: "I’ve heard some folks try to dodge the evidence by saying they’re not scientists; that we don’t have enough information to act. Well, I’m not a scientist, either. But you know what — I know a lot of really good scientists at NASA, and NOAA, and at our major universities. The best scientists in the world are all telling us that our activities are changing the climate, and if we do not act forcefully, we’ll continue to see rising oceans, longer, hotter heat waves, dangerous droughts and floods, and massive disruptions that can trigger greater migration, conflict, and hunger around the globe."
Because fighting is draining, it's easy to despair. But despair is an emotion that only happens when you feel alone. There is hope! You and I and all enviro(ish) friends are *not alone* on the side of science and reason and history and justice. Don't forget that 310,000 people marched for climate action in NYC last September. That's a lot of peeps. For perspective, that's the size of Tampa (!)
Here's some easy entry points to engage people on this "fight". Good luck my people....fight on. Not just for the planet, but for ourselves!
- Science. 209 lead authors, 50 review editors, 600 lead experts and over 9,200 citations were who and what wrote the latest report by the UN on climate change (IPCC Report 5) in which this mass of climatologists concluded that warming is unequivocal, there's 95% certainty human activity is causing climate change, and it is already contributing and will significantly contribute to air and ocean warming, snow and ice melt, sea level rise. Most climate self-proclaimed skeptics (aka deniers) will usually cite an economist or a think tank's un-peer-reviewed report or worse, themselves. You're a smart cookie, don't be fooled into thinking science is not with you!
- Humor. So facts rarely penetrate once someone has their defensive shield up, I much prefer humor. John Oliver has a nice segment on the climate "debate", complete with his Brit accent that sounds oh so smart (never hurts!). I find that Daily Show and Colbert Report (RIP) are great sources for clips on climate change, the bullshit science of politicians, the best tweet ever, the ridiculous coverage of climate during the polar vortex, and why we don't take action (F**k it = genius).
- Celebrities. I mean, very few people consider environmental documentaries like Years of Living Dangerously entertaining, but when it comes with Matt Damon, Harrison Ford, Ian Somerhalder,Jessica Alba and Don Cheadle....talking about climate change never looked so good. It's also, you know, a very compelling and well-done series focused on the people whose lives are impacted by climate change, which is IMO in the exact right tone/message (polar bears, love you, but you gotta stop being the icon for this movement!). Best part? You can watch the first episode for free online!
- Time Lapse. If you can get your hands on a copy of Chasing Ice, do so. And share it. Famed nature photographer James Balog came up with a brilliant idea to timelapse glacial retreats because part of the issue of comprehending climate change is that our brains are not designed to respond to very small changes over longer times (think: watching a child grow up everyday vs. visiting a few times a year). They recorded the largest single ice calving event in history - ice the size of the tip of Manhattan and 2-3 times taller than the tallest buildings - breaking off. Epic.
- Visualizations. Let's face it, even if you are an auditory or kinetic learner, visuals always help. NASA has caught onto this fact and created the following video to show the change in temperature for the U.S. going out to 2100 based upon climate models. It's only a minute, a minute of broccoli for your eco brain, do it! Further below is a fantastic infographic from the World Bank's Connect4Climate initiative.