Skeptics Adapt. Denialists Self-Destruct
Skepticism is essential for unbiased science. We are encouraged to scrutinise and evaluate research. But, to be the type of leader who lives in constant denial is to risk missing out on key opportunities. To go one step further and declare that climate science is no longer needed is simply madness.
Despite the swelling evidence of climate change, the bitter discomfort of soaring temperatures, the flooding rains, hungrier sharks, beaches littered with dead baby seals and other ‘bothers’, the Classic Climate Denialists continue to shelter in their dens. They come out seasonally to tell us not to worry.
But the voices of the Climate Denial Brigade are actually getting hard to hear over the din from fire-and-flood emergency services. Even the white-collar insurance companies are scrambling for safety in an era of uncertainty from climate change.
Publicly, the Climate Denial Brigade is dominated by strong older white, conservative men. Unfortunately these same men tend to dominate the business world and seats of power. And lately they have been menacing and actively stopping the scientists from doing their valuable independent work. It’s time for a chat. So, how do we engage this Classic Climate Denialist?
How Do we Start the Conversation?
1. Talk About The Weather
Most conversations open with a chat about the weather. Especially for those people who live in life-threatening weather systems (North America, England). Oscar Wilde once quipped that “Conversation about the weather is the last refuge of the unimaginative.” Oscar Wilde lived in a period of climate security. What would he say now? Ask the denialist about their view on the weather.
2. Encourage that Odd ‘Moment of Reminiscing’
The denialist who is still ‘saving for the rainy day” will begrudgingly enjoy spending time in the cool, climate-adapted Skeptics den. In the day-to-day discussions with classic denialists, there are nostalgic reminisces about the changing weather patterns. We hear : “When I was a boy it snowed at Christmas, there were some snow drifts as big as ….” but the next breath is uncomfortably silent.
The denialist doesn’t need to consider that their pollution would be degrading the planet or contributing to climate uncertainty.
Befriend The Elephant
To consider the link between human behaviour and climate change is to accept that our own behaviour, might have been harmful to the planet. To face our grandchildren with the knowledge that we have put a burden on them is shameful.
It takes a really big guy to accept that his life’s work is not building a better future.
It is also very challenging to recognise that any destructive practices today are going to be costly to future generations.
The climate change elephant-in-the-room is growing bigger.
3. Accentuate the Positives
An awareness of climate change can drive innovation and provide a market advantage. [But do avoid green-washing clichés eg. ‘Save the trees by using our plastic siding’. ]
This growing ‘eco-market’ is informed, genuine and astute. It keeps pushing for educated solutions eg. this type of consumer won’t just settle on having insulation, she wants recycled insulation.
If you offer a genuinely good product or service, the eco-market will hunt you down and be knocking at your company door before the product is on the market.
Befriending that Elephant-in-the–workplace can help reduce climate change pressures and lead innovation. Rather than trying to compete solely on price, a smart company can offer green-savy, ethical solutions. Nucor Steel recycle one ton of steel every two seconds. Nucor are also developing the world’s first faster, cleaner, 99% recycled high quality steel.
4. Listen To The Heart
Religion speaks to a lot of people. One the greatest challenges to the common Climate Denial Brigade is Pope Francis.
He implores followers to be guardians and stewards, not exploiters of the earth. Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori says Climate change is a moral challenge threatening the rights of the world’s poorest people and those who deny it are not using God’s gift of knowledge.
In Islam there is the basic tenet that the earth is for all beings, not humans alone. The Dalai Lama writes that “Life must be characterized by a sense of universal responsibility, not only nation to nation and human to human, but also human to other forms of life”. This universal belief in a higher good can be the catalyst to a deeper maturity and exploration of ethics.
5. Help Them Free the Change-Makers
How did the some cultures get so disconnected from nature? How did some people allow themselves to think that the planet is for them to dominant and do as they wish? Greed is a powerful demon.
If the climate denialists don’t have the power to jump up and face the demons
(the horrors of our transgressions), then they need to simply get out-of-the-way!
Encourage Denialists to become healthy skeptics and support crucial scientific research organisations. Tell them clearly when they need to step out of the way of the change-makers who will get on with the business of building a cleaner future for all of us.