One day the Sky Gods grace humanity with sunshine, and the next day it’s thirty below eight feet of snow. Interconnected with the seasons, weather is a cyclical process, which most people readily agree on when it comes to climate change. The debate remains whether humanity has a major impact on the environment, through anthropogenic climate change or not.
It’s an interesting discussion to have with family, friends and web warriors, but after a while, talking to a wall gets old. Debates turn petty, and arguments grow circular, even with supporting facts.
There are fact-based, relatable tactics that may help you poke a hole in that brick wall and at least get the climate denier to open one eye, blink and consider the matter from a more thoughtful perspective.
Here are some common claims of deniers:
There’s No Relevant Information
Climate deniers will either say there’s no evidence that proves climate change or reports are contradictory. If you’re looking for needles in haystacks and handpicking reports, yes, it will appear that way. New knowledge is constantly being uncovered, but it’s about digging below the ice to find the evidential balance presented by nature.
There have always been ice ages and melting glaciers, growing and receding with time. It’s part of the cycle, they argue, and any warming is a result of the Urban Heat Island effect. More than a handful of glaciers are melting, and their rates are being measured.
The National Snow and Ice Data Centre, or the NSIDC, charts glacier mass balance on a global scale, and the few decades have shown a major drop of ice volume when it comes to mountain and subpolar glaciers. Ancient permafrost is thawing, and the rate of fossil fuel production is affecting the planet in major ways just now being understood.
In the last 200 years, 40 percent of the carbon dioxide accumulated in the air is due to the increase in human activity, and that’s related to farming and burning of fossil fuels and forests, among other things.
Human activity and its effect on the planet is measurable. When these events are occurring worldwide at record rates, it’s no mere anomaly, especially when a 5,000-year-old iceman’s body de-thawed from a glacier and came to tell the story of climate change himself.
Not My Problem
It’s like an ugly garden gnome — you don’t see it until it’s staring you down. Put the problem in their backyard, and make the issue relatable.
Look locally. Is energy waste presenting a major problem with air quality? How’s a family member’s breathing over the years, and is it any better when out of that environment? Does waste affect the children playing in parks and the homeless population? Find the connection.
Consider the rampant forest fires over across Tennessee and North Carolina last year: Gatlinburg, Tennessee, the site of many a family mountain getaway, was burned in a tragic fire called apocalyptic by those who saw it.
Smoke was seen and smelled across the Piedmont region, far from the mountains, down to Atlanta. The western North Carolina outbreak of fire may “clear out the underbrush,” but over 14,000 acres were burned due to drought worse than any seen in 65 years of North Carolina history.
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That mountain range is part of a chain that spans from the far south up to the Canadian border. The effects were seen across states, placing the reality of climate change in many people’s backyards.
The Faith Factor: It’s in a Higher Power’s Hands
For families and individuals who use arguments based around religious morality and responsibility, consider their point of view and speak science in a similar language. Bring it back to the basics of how you were raised.
In Genesis 1:28, God tells Adam and Eve, “Be fruitful and increase in number, fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground.” So, God gave humanity stewardship over the Earth, which is down to the individual.
Many families teach their children to live by the Golden Rule, to not take more than they need and to give as you receive — this may also be applied to each person’s role in doing their part. It doesn’t mean tame the unruly beast that’s nature, to reign in its beauty and master its gifts, but admire and be grateful. You do your part.
Renewable Energy Costs Too Much
If this talk is really about money, take it there. Wind and solar production have become more accessible because there’s more demand, and over the last 30 years, the cost has dramatically dropped to close the gap and be right in the ranks with that clean coal and natural gas that folks like to talk about so much.
Solar power is not a fuel — it’s a technology, and it’s proving its domination. Active oil rigs have fallen in number, and renewable energy will help fill the gap.
As of 2016, many countries, including the United Arab Emirates and Chile, have deals for solar energy generated for under three cents per kilowatt-hour, which is half the cost of coal power globally. Reports indicate crossovers of fossil fuels and renewable energy for those that import in the 2020s, and a little longer for the switch with countries with reserves.
Climate change is hard to accept for many skeptics because denial is easier, and handpicked contradictory reports make the topic confusing. It’s easy to start discussing one aspect of climate change and end up on another tangent that leaves everyone hotheaded and off-point.
When it comes to the ways in which human activity affects the planet, taking ownership of one’s role to care for the planet is personal, making the debate personal and highly-charged when parties don’t agree. Taking it back to the basics and making points factual without tearing the other party down may poke a hole in that stubborn brick wall of denial, but it’s not guaranteed.
After all, everyone is entitled to their opinion, but that doesn’t change the facts. You may not convince climate deniers, but your steadfastness should give them pause.