Climate Change: Not A Matter Of Faith
By Guest Columnist
NEWS JUNKIE POSTFeb 22, 2010 at 1:33 am
By Mike Kaulbars
The popular wisdom currently is that “Al Gore’s climate change theory” is in big trouble due to scandals, bad science, tampered data, the coldest winter ever, and so on. Not a word of it is true of course. It’s just more of the standard climate change Denier misrepresentation and outright lies. However, it does underscore three critical challenges in the politics of climate change.
In the first place, however certain one may be that the Denier crowd is up to their usual tricks, the average person has no idea where to begin to look to to show why this or that Denier claim is a fraud. This excellent site “How to Talk to a Climate Skeptic: Responses to the most common skeptical arguments on global warming” covers most of the Denier claims and if you preserve just that one bookmark you will be able to respond to just about every climate change Denier claim you will ever hear.
However, this leads us to the next challenge, which is that ultimately just about everything we know is taken on faith. Oh sure we think the Sun is a star that the Earth revolves around, that electricity is moving electrons, etc, but really it’s all taken on faith. Has anyone seen gravity? We see events that we believe are caused by something called gravity, but that’s as close as it comes.
So although all of the climate change Denier claims can be shown to be nonsense, at some point it boils down to what sources you find credible and/or trustworthy. This is not unique to climate change as an issue. From gun control to a woman’s right to chose every one is citing different “facts.” The average person does not have the time to look into everything and will make decisions based on faith in the sources.
Climate change is an odd issue for progressives in three regards. First, it does not rest on a foundation of any sort of moral or ethical truth such as “equality” or “justice”, although these are significant with regard to it’s implications. It is simply a matter of pure science, and while the basics are easy enough to understand the particulars are complex. Second, it is the mainstream, institutionalized science that is on our side vs industry and many popular media. Third, and perhaps most importantly, we are part of the oppressor class.
That last point is a significant one. If you are reading this it is because you have access to a computer, and that means privilege. No matter how hard you are trying it is unlikely that any of you have a carbon footprint that is not at least 3 to 4 times what you have a right to, and in most cases it is likely to be much, much higher.
As someone of privilege with respect to this issue the fact is that you are very inclined to be defensive about your lifestyle. In practice this manifests as progressives finding climate change Denial more “credible” even though it comes from the same sources as so many lies about other issues. I am referring to places like the American Enterprise Institute, Heartland Foundation, etc. Names that many of you will recognize as thinly disguised lobbying firms working to undermine just about every aspect of the progressive agenda.
As such, when confronted with climate change Denial in the public sphere the average progressive is at something of a loss. They don’t know the facts as such, there is no underlying moral argument that can be made, and on the whole at least part of them is hopeful that it’s all some huge mistake and we may go on living our comfortable Western lifestyles.
This does not make for a convincing advocate. However, our times demand that we be convincing advocates, so how can that be done without becoming full time climate change advocates?
First, get the issue resolved for yourself. If you are a progressive who chooses to be a so-called “skeptic”, at least be skeptical enough to explore why on this one issue you find yourself in agreement with Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh. If that doesn’t sound alarm bells for you then nothing will.
Second, be thoughtful about why you believe what you believe. I think you will find that for the average dinner conversation a rational articulation of your own reasoning is more accessible and convincing than the scientific facts would be. A simple example is their claims of a global conspiracy of scientists. Yeah, right. Milllions of scientists from over a hundred nations are in on a conspiracy; they meet Thursdays, it’s potluck, so bring something. The premise is too absurd for words.
Thinking through your own reasoning will give you all of the points you need to make to undermine the Denier claims with the average person, at least those willing to listen. What is usually lacking is the forethought to have organized your own thoughts. If you take the minimal time it takes to do so I think you will find that your reasoning is reasonable and rational, and that many others will think so to. This will make you a convincing and effective advocate without having to become an authority on climate science.
Which leaves only one missing factor, speaking out. Don’t let your silence be consent. At every opportunity fight the injustice of climate change by calmly and rationally articulating your perspective. Nothing more is needed, but that much is critical.
- January 31, 2010 Progressive Unity Project on News Junkie Post
- January 4, 2010 Facts About Conservative Truthiness
- November 2, 2013 In the Fight Against Imperialism, Beware the Peddlers of Despair
- December 20, 2010 Climate Change: How Can I Be Sure?
- November 26, 2012 Bradley Manning: Political Prisoner for Truth