We here at Real Fair News couldn’t help but muse in the aftermath of storms, as to how long it would take the media to figure out how to politicize these storms. Our bet was that the storms would likely be politicized on every angle possible the second the storm truce had ended, and the mainstream media didn’t disappoint. The last drops of rain hadn’t stopped falling before they immediately seized the opportunity to use the storms as proof of the existence of climate change or global warming. The science was once again settled and these storms were the proof. According to Stevie Wonder, you are also dumber than a box of hammers if you are a climate change denier. “Anyone who believes there’s no such thing as global warming must be blind or unintelligent,” was the gem Stevie led with at a benefit concert for storm victims. (Stevie must have taken a course from the President on extreme stances and how they usually get you what you want.)
Sadly, climate change end ups looking a lot like everything else in this hyper-political environment. If you don’t believe X then you are Y. A great man once said that “only a Sith speaks in absolutes”. Even though that statement is an absolute; we tend to agree with Obi Wan. Also Siths probably don’t get their way very often; not without a Vader mind choke at least. Much like the tireless efforts by CNN to get Trump elected, if you approach anything from an extreme, the people that don’t agree with that view, are likely to dig in deeper than they would have otherwise. Unfair approaches lead to pendulum swings. In a similar bout of psychological ignorance, the politicization of climate change has headed down a path indistinguishable from the 2016 election. To be fair to Stevie, his words weren’t political, but the fact his words were called that by some is reflective of a much bigger problem. Instead of influencing people positively on climate change, his words calcified many on political lines when climate change should be assessed on science alone. Rather than approach climate change from extremes, we here at Real Fair News would suggest all of us figure out a way to see climate change from a few vantage points – none of which should be political -and maybe come to a better solution for everyone – and the planet.
One of the biggest problems leading to bad results, and potentially more man-made climate change deniers, is the marketing of climate change by climate change believers. Words matter. Psychology matters. This isn’t assigning blame to believers. It is simply to suggest there is a better approach than having people shut off their TV during a benefit concert for hurricanes due to complete ignorance about basic human psychology. One of our favorite psychologically and politically ossifying statements on climate change is “the science is settled”. If we examine this statement simply on the basis of human psychology, it could be leading to the opposite result of what man-made climate change believers want. Why?
- The science is ‘settled’ suggests all scientists agree that global warming/climate change is man- made – this isn’t the case
- The science is settled suggests the science is correct – this is VERY uncertain
- The science is settled suggests there isn’t any room for debate – this creates horrible results for everyone
To us, it seems highly likely that humans are influencing temperature on this planet in a way that may eventually cause the planet to become uninhabitable. More on this later. However, if we look back to the statement ‘the science is settled’, it’s probably a good assumption to believe that a lot of scientists do believe in man-made climate change. However, consensus is a very weak argument for anything. Come on man, all the cool kid scientists believe it – so should you – shouldn’t work. In fact it isn’t working. People have been trained to resist peer pressure since they were children. This is just science peer pressure. Finding yourself in the minority on any issue is often a good thing. Maybe not in the case of climate change, but consensus is often wrong. Further there are people that follow the crowd and others that, under the wrong approach, will become reflexively contrarian to consensus driven ideas. We all know both types of people. It doesn’t make them bad or wrong. Some people naturally side with consensus and others don’t. This is the same thing. Throw a hyper-political backdrop on top of a very extreme statement and you get an extreme reaction which is detrimental to achieving more buy-in on climate change.
Suffice it to say however, like all things, even if there is a consensus, that doesn’t make it correct. Further, using consensus as an argument causes people to dig in even more on their own view that climate change isn’t man-made. It is fallacious and a bad argument to use consensus to believe in anything. Thus it creates a bad response. Buy-in on an idea or changing someone’s mind is hard. Telling them all the smart people believe it, and you don’t believe it like all the smart people is kinda like calling them a moron. This ends badly for the globe. If you reflexively say ‘yeah but they ARE morons for not believing in man-made climate change’ – you are the problem are part of the problem and just bad at another form of science – psychology. Science is wrong pretty often about a LOT of stuff. Again this isn’t a judgement on climate change but skepticism is science, it drives science, not consensus. Consensus is the antithesis of science. Questioning consensus is the driver of all science. Here is some views on man-made climate change consensus below – both are worth understanding in order to come to your own view on where consensus really resides:
The next problem with the science is ‘settled’ is that the potential for science to be wrong is real. Again, keep yourself from freaking out if you are a believer. Is it possible they are wrong? Yes. Is it likely? Ehh. Probably not. It seems humanity is influencing climate in what may be a very negative way for the future of humankind. The degree of this humanity driven influence on climate, AND most importantly the implication of this influence, are the better questions to answer. More on this later. On the possibility of science being incorrect – the world is flat – that was super consensus-ee. The earth is the center of the universe – pretty sure some folks were killed for disagreeing with that one. Let’s go even funnier. Is salt good for you? Milk? Eggs? Fat? We have no idea, honestly, zero. Also personally I remember them being sure dinosaurs were reptiles when I was a kid. Spoiler alert – they aren’t- or ARE THEY? You don’t know. You know why? Science is an evolution. Pun intended. Even funnier one – did you know that blowing smoke up your ass comes from science? Yes. Truthfact. Maybe? The term blowing smoke up one’s ass came from a common ‘medical’ procedure way back when science was sure about the benefits of blowing smoke up someone’s ass as a life-saving technique:
Point is, science gets things wrong all the time. Was blowing smoke up someone’s ass bad science? Yes. Is there still a LOT of that out there? Yes. Chemo will no doubt be looked at like bloodletting twenty years from now. Chemo is based on survival rates and ‘good science’. Good is good during the time it is practiced. Right now humans and scientists still lack the sophistication to tell us much with certainty, or at the very least, give us the best potential answer to any scientific question. This is very true of man-made climate change. Are they wrong though about climate change? Probably not. Notice I didn’t say it’s certain they are right. That makes deniers wrong. Science is never settled. There is only the probability of scientists being right about climate change and the degree of danger involved in the scenarios where those scientists are right. Thus being right about both man’s influence on climate and the degree of danger to humankind this represents is really very up in the air. In short, marketing highly uncertain things as certain is creating more problems than it is solves.
Finally, have you ever had someone tell you there is no possible way to see something a different way when there are literally millions of iterations of ways to see anything, including scientific data? Try telling your spouse or any significant other you are 100% wrong. Tell us how that goes over. The science is settled suggests the science and the questions are over. There is no debate. There is no possibility the super genius scientists that happen to believe in man-made climate change could be wrong. Except the ones who don’t believe it. They are stupid mouth breathers. Don’t get us wrong even though we believe in man-made climate change – intolerance for skepticism about climate change makes us bristle here. It’s tantamount to someone telling us that you are a slack-jawed yokel to not believe what all the cool kid scientists are getting down with. Climate change is super real bro. You’re a muppet for not believing it, because, you know, all the cool kid scientists are doing it. This is the biggest mistake made by those with an agenda on change. What is the point? It’s bad science to approach climate change deniers in this way and the Stevie Wonder’s of the world are actually creating a situation where deniers are becoming, well, more denier-ee. That’s a word right?
Extreme stances generate even larger resistance and more staunch opposition; it is simply human nature. How did Trump get elected? Exactly. We should be learning from past mistakes. The argument style on climate change shouldn’t be a carryover of failed tactics from the 2016 election. It’s too important to get humankind to address this POTENTIAL threat to humanity. Further, and more obviously, it isn’t good science to approach people you disagree with by pushing against them with an equally extreme and opposite force. The pendulum ALWAYS swings. There is an equal and opposite reaction to any extreme. Saying the science is settled is exactly the same thing to the group of people who don’t believe in man-made climate change. So if they are dumb about science, the Stevie Wonders of the world are equally stupid about human psychology. This isn’t even psych 101 – it’s like psych .250 or whatever remedial psychology would be called. We believe humankind is in grave danger from climate change. Why? Reasons. Three class three kill storms hitting in one hurricane season, are NOT those reasons, and it shouldn’t be presented as such.
This article isn’t about the reasons though. It’s about trying to create better dialogue with people you disagree with about climate change. We think approaching this from any number of angles might be more productive than ‘Stevie Wonder’ing’ an entire telethon and a good portion of the US population. Just a thought. Try this: Scientists aren’t really certain about man-made climate change but the probability is high that people are influencing temperature on this planet. However, and this is more important, if they are right, give them the Peter Venkman argument. What if they are right?
Dr. Peter Venkman: This city is headed for a disaster of biblical proportions.
Mayor: What do you mean, “biblical”?
Dr. Raymond Stantz: What he means is Old Testament, Mr. Mayor, real wrath of God type stuff.
Dr. Peter Venkman: Exactly.
Dr. Raymond Stantz: Fire and brimstone coming down from the skies! Rivers and seas boiling!
Dr. Egon Spengler: Forty years of darkness! Earthquakes, volcanoes…
Winston Zeddemore: The dead rising from the grave!
Dr. Peter Venkman: Human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together… mass hysteria!
Mayor: All right, all right! I get the point!
The point that should be made isn’t the certainty that believers are right and deniers are wrong, it’s getting people to understand that they climatologists and believers could be wrong, but the consequences are so grave that if they are right, we have to act as if the SMALL chance that they are right is certain. Think about that. What if there is a 2% chance they are right and the earth will become uninhabitable within a generation or two if we don’t change right this second? What if we are indeed facing the ‘Toby Newsroom’ future:
That is actually a FAR more palatable reason to convince someone as to why we need to confront climate change rather than saying someone is unintelligent for not believing some consensus. Approaching people with less certainty, less condescension and arrogance, will yield better results than alienating people. The message should be that getting this wrong could mean the literal end of humankind and earth. Further, keeping with the ghostbusters argument Venkman says the following:
Dr. Peter Venkman: If I’m wrong, nothing happens! We go to jail – peacefully, quietly. We’ll enjoy it! But if I’m *right*, and we *can* stop this thing… Lenny, you will have saved the lives of millions of registered voters.
What happens if we man-made climate change believers are wrong BUT we acted like they were right? That wouldn’t be awful. Cleaner air, water, more efficient energy usage, less garbage, all-in we’d be looking at the opposite of a Wall-E future. God that robot is adorbs; but we aren’t certain dooming the earth is justification enough to prompt the creation of such cute robots. There are certainly some economic consequences to acting like humans are doomed if they don’t do something now on man-made climate change. Shutting the car off, changing to renewables, planting more trees, de-paving the globe, and other measures will hurt some groups of people on an economic basis. Shutting off the car would likely hurt most people. These consequences will be economically difficult for some over the near term while being long term good for everyone including those harmed economically, if the dire version of climate change happens to be correct. Even shutting off the car could be justified in the worst possible of climate change outcomes. We aren’t saying this is necessary but it would be rational from logical standpoint to do so. The cost of being wrong might be too great. If it isn’t correct than we just have a nicer more efficient planet. No it’s not certain, but we need people to understand that we don’t know all the answers, and consensus isn’t a great reason to believe in man-made climate change. Consensus isn’t a great reason to believe anything. Would you jump off a bridge if your friends were doing it? No. However, it only takes one person to be right about man-made climate change meaning doom for humanity. Not a consensus. It only takes one right answer not a bunch of people agreeing to a wrong one. Approaching climate change with people who don’t believe from this more palatable and psychologically sound standpoint might create more productive dialogue and gain more buy-in. Really lots of cool kid scientists can be wrong. I wouldn’t bet humanity against the possibility one of those scientists is right though. The problem could be this serious. We just don’t know. Maybe we are just blind and unintelligent to not be certain. Maybe none of the bad things associated with climate change will come to pass. That hardly matters though does it? What is certain is the approach on communicating to climate deniers needs to improve to help avoid the improbable yet entirely possible outcome that one of these scientists is right and this is a grave risk to humanity. Although it would be nice to have some Wall-e’s running around. They seem fun.