Friday, September 19, 2014

Climate change "deniers" are not the obstruction


Climate change "deniers" are not the obstruction:
They are the enablers to the "believers" who are unwilling to act


There has been a lot in the news about a recent Gallup poll that shows that one out of four people in the US doubts that climate change is real and caused by us.  The editorials and pundits and blogosphere are full of commentary about these deniers.  This is old news and its continued rehashing largely misses the point.   What about the other three out of four people?


I don't see much evidence that three in four Americans are taking action.  Three out of four cars on the road are not fuel-efficient.  Three out of four homes I visit don't have their air-conditioners off, even on cool days.  Three out of four buildings don't have their lights out when empty.  Three out of four Americans do not shun water in plastic bottles or all the other throwaway petrochemical crap that contributes to climate change.  Three out of four Americans are not demanding any sort of action from their politicians.  Three out of four Americans are not walking, cycling, or using public transportation more.  A small proportion of Americans take significant steps to reduce the pollution they cause, but nowhere near 75%.

What is most bothersome is not that 25% of people deny the reality, but that a large portion of the 75% that accept it are still unwilling to take significant personal action.  Accepting the science only is just not adequate.  It is like acknowledging smoking causes cancer, but not trying to quit.  The 75% of believers need to start acting like they believe.

The frenzied media focus on the deniers simply plays to the advantage of the fossil fuel industries.  While people focus on the deniers as the obstruction to change, they feel free to simply carry on burning and wasting. 

"If those fools just stopped denying, then we could see progress."

The deniers are not obstacles to positive change, they are enablers to the other c. 75% who, for a variety of self-indulgent reasons, won't change their behavior.  They feel that the solutions must be driven by someone else.  They think policy changes are needed, conveniently ignoring the need to change their personal behavioral.  The deniers are convenient scapegoats.  People can feel self-righteous and indignant because someone else is stopping the solution.

"Those ignorant fools are pawns of big oil, those ignorant fools are going to cause environmental disaster."

This is what they think as they roar past the lone cyclist on the road in their SUV on the way to the store to pick up bottled water.

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