I’m realizing more and more that wingnuts denying Climate Change is actually related a lot more to a deep emotional need than anything rational.
Occasionally I’m still getting caught trying to convince Wingnuts that yes, climate change is happening and yes we should change our way of life to do something about it. I realize this convincing is likely never going to happen. I also don’t think getting into these discussions is in line with Right Speech, samma vaca.
But I think I have a better handle on the thinking now. Almost everybody knows at this point that there is no “debate” over whether global warming is happening.
The average person has no access to scientific papers– they are kept in college libraries or in research labs. So the papers may as well not exist; they are something people you don’t necessarily trust tell you about, like Bigfoot.
But there’s this Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) which publishes papers now. One big official organization, with a report you can read online, with names of scientists right there on the paper. It’s no longer thousands and thousands of papers people you’ve never heard of have written, the names are RIGHT THERE. It’s endorsed by every nation on earth.
So the puzzling bit is: Wingnut thinks this is still a lie. In my opinion it would now be a very expensive lie… why would thousands of scientists conspire to lead everyone astray in this very particular way?
The way I felt when I realized the enormity of the climate change problem (the carbon component anyway) was something like this:
Two boys are playing in the yard. Just for fun, they throw rocks at a tree. They throw about a hundred rocks. When they run out of rocks, they walk to the tree to look at all the marks they made. One looks down, and sees a dead bird with a rock embedded in its skull. It is clear they have accidentally killed this bird, and they hear the peeping of the baby birds above in the tree. “We have to make this right,” one boy says. “We have to take care of the baby birds in the tree.” “No!” the other boy says defiantly. “That bird was dead when we got here. It probably died of natural causes.”
So, I had no idea we were changing the environment by driving, using plastic, and shipping pretty much everything. My bad. But I’m doing my best to stop doing those things, and to fix the problem, which unfortunately in our case is a bit more complicated than raising orphaned birds.
The way Wingnut sees the situation is a little different. It’s more like:
A tourist is walking on the sidewalk of a busy, dirty, city. He walks by a sleazy-looking gentleman in a slick suit, who reeks of alcohol. “HEY!” the suited man says, “you just stepped on my favorite hat! You owe me a hundred dollars!” The tourist looks behind him and sees a crushed hat behind him, which was clearly just thrown by the man in the suit. “You just threw that there,” the tourist protests. “Nah, nah,” the suited man says. “You are just a clueless tourist, you don’t know anything. You need to pay me now to walk on the street.”
In this second scenario, the people talking about climate change and global warming are running a kind of scam. Wingnut is being blamed for something he is wholly not responsible for, AND being victimized by someone, either “liberals,” “scientists,” or “the government.” This aggressive party is telling him something that is pretty outlandish and difficult to understand, but the motivation seems to be to take something unfairly from Wingnut. In the case where suited man is “the government,” this thing is tax money or “freedom.”
Another aggravating thing to me is:
- many of the Climate Change Deniers I talk to actually believe in the reality of the Greenhouse Effect, just not that carbon emissions are from people
- the math of climate change is not so difficult to comprehend
How? As a thought exercise, ask yourself:
- How much carbon dioxide is generated on each car trip you make? How many people breathing? Answer: a lot. It’s a little fire in your car, ignited over and over. People suffocate from carbon dioxide in an enclosed space when there is an open flame all the time.
- How many trips in the car do you make a day? A year? A WHOLE lot.
- How many people are driving? A Whole Lot. Basically at least everyone who has a job that is not near where they sleep
- How long has this been going on? At least fifty years! How many days is that? A WHOLE LOT.
So, multiply a lot by A WHOLE lot by A Whole Lot by A WHOLE LOT, and you get… goddamn that’s a lot.
Other obstacles are
- “I don’t believe in the Greenhouse Effect” – I don’t have an answer for this one. You can verify part of the greenhouse effect at home, but I realized it is unlikely someone unmotivated would ever do this.
- “all science is a lie” – uh
- “The Bible doesn’t say to protect the environment” – go tell that to a Jehovah’s Witness. I’m sure you’ll have a lot to talk about. They believe that an omnipotent God is perfectly capable of creating the complex system that is our ecosystem, and that the earth was given to humans as a paradise to tend and care for. Then again, they also think we’re doomed and only God can fix the atmosphere. Bummer.