As the polar ice caps were continuing to melt and global greenhouse gas levels were continuing to rise, some of us were hoping that our nation would stand firmly at the forefront of the fight against climate change for another four years; yet, we now see how little people know or care about the idea of global warming as we all find ourselves in a situation severed from the little hope we previously had.
In an interview with Fox News last Sunday Reince Priebus, president elect Trump’s future chief of staff, said that Trump’s “default position” on climate change is that “most of it is a bunch of bunk,” which suggests that the upcoming administration might halt current, governmental efforts to investigate and mitigate the impacts of climate change. This would dramatically change our government’s involvement in climate research, despite there being an overwhelming scientific consensus regarding the theory of climate change; some of the most renowned and trusted organizations that have endorsed the existence of climate change include: The National Academy of Sciences, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, NASA, and several agencies organized by the United Nations. Naturally, a consensus as far-reaching as this would garner public support, but we have yet to see American attitudes shift to one side over another.
A recent Gallup Poll taken in March 2016 indicates that 64% of Americans demonstrate a
“great deal or fair amount” of concern about global warming, which is the highest value since 2008. However, a recent Pew poll paints a different picture on how divided Americans actually are. The poll, conducted between May and June of this year, asked participants to identify with a political party and where they lie on the political spectrum; i.e., liberal, conservative, or moderate.
According to this poll, 55% of self-identified liberal democrats believe that the findings of climate scientists are influenced by the “best available scientific evidence”, whereas 57% of self-identified conservative republicans believe that the findings are influenced by “scientists’ desire to advance their careers.” A stark contrast in opinion also exists in regards to the credibility of climate scientists, where only 70% of liberal democrats and 15% of conservative republican believe they can be trusted.
The results of the poll seem to illustrate a difference in opinions that can, unsurprisingly, be divided along party lines. What is more alarming than differing, partisan perspectives is that only 48% of this poll’s participants believe that global warming is due to human activity, where anthropogenic global warming is the theory held in wide regard by the scientific community. America appears to be split on the issue of climate change, a thought that scares me as our environmental issues have yet to evolve into
If decades of progressing scientific research and heaps of evidence cannot persuade stubborn deniers, then what will?
It will take tremendous amounts of guilt. Guilt is a feeling that can be hard for people to stomach, and guilt could be the only way to get fact-fleers from being able to push policies that will aggravate global warming. So, how can we give climate change deniers a taste of guilt? This question is much more difficult to answer, but I believe that aggressive educational programs that highlight the current and future impact of environmentally-negligent behaviors would be one way to spread guilt.
Programs and curricula that highlight the consequences of unregulated industries in other regions of the world, as well as the implications for future sustainability in various regions of the world, would be a way in which facts and evidence can bring about guilt. But there also needs to be an emotional flair that causes people to feel bad about their beliefs. Asking questions related to climate change that would evaluate the deniers’ morality or personal intentions is one way to initiate emotional appeal.
Another way to make deniers feel guilty is to make them feel the pathos of future disasters provoked by climate change; this can be done through science-backed filmmaking and illustrations of what future societies would look like. In addition, organizing group activities and environmental debates that allow deniers to explore the topic of climate change more deeply would certainly increase the exposure of climate change and cause them to become more open to its existence.
Yes, climate change is technically a theory that can be debated and refuted, but we also have evidence that suggests that climate change is slowly pushing humankind towards the brink of extinction.
So, I stand firmly with the existence of climate change, and I believe that it is just as important to be proactive by using facts, logic, and emotional appeal to support and forward the belief of climate change. I also think it is appropriate to cut the ties between environment and partisan politics so that people would be encouraged to use an open-minded opinion to evaluate the evidence for and against climate change.
Keep in mind that these are simply thoughts on paper. It is extremely difficult to tackle an issue as complicated as climate change, and it will take a lot more effort to construct a solution to create a nationwide culture of consensus regarding the possibility—rather—the reality of climate change.