Last week, Scott Pruitt gave an interview on CNBC’s Squawk Box in which he denied the role of carbon dioxide as the primary contributor to global warming.
Our nation’s top environmental official stated:
I think that measuring with precision human activity on the climate is something very challenging to do and there’s tremendous disagreement about the degree of impact, so no, I would not agree that it’s a primary contributor to the global warming that we see.
But we don’t know that yet. We need to continue the debate and continue the review and the analysis.
Even though I know where the EPA chief stands on climate change, I was still enraged about how blasé he was about denying climate science. So, I took to Twitter.
I ended up in a debate with someone who thought I had fallen for the left wing media’s lies. He claimed to have an engineering degree and boasted about how he designs power plants. I have a degree in earth sciences. You’d think that we’d find common ground with our STEM backgrounds, but it was a wasted effort.
Our conversation devolved from funny meme responses and trying to discuss solutions to fossil fuels to him mansplaining how energy and power plants worked. It wasn’t a productive use of my time, so I checked out. I mean, it is Twitter after all.
If you believe in the science, then you know that our planet’s climate is changing at a rate unlike anything we’ve seen across geological records, and that this warming trend is caused by human activity and not natural changes such as changes in the sun’s output or volcanic eruptions.
But what people who don’t believe the science? How do we effectively engage climate change skeptics?
Here are some tips:
Grist has a comprehensive list of responses to the most common skeptical arguments.
Science shouldn’t be a political issue, but it has become one. Non-scientists such as President Trump are debating professional scientists about their work. In the last presidential campaign, we witnessed a widening division between Americans who believe science outweigh the potential harms, and those who view science. How we perceive science and our willingness to trust science translates into how much the public will fund science. This is why we're seeing severe budget cuts to the EPA and NOAA.
As a communicator, I’ve learned that people don’t just absorb information. They have filters. It’s why the war on science is never-ending and throwing facts at people does not work. People seek out information that is agreeable to their beliefs and will argue against information that is contradictory to those convictions, especially if it’s tied to their identity. What I’m telling you will be accepted or rejected based on your predispositions. It is hard to change a person’s convictions purely based on scientific evidence.
Environmentalists must work daily on finding ways to break the selective bubble of the climate-skeptical constituency and hone their debating skills, myself included. Engaging with climate change deniers is frustrating and can be draining, but it’s an opportunity to help someone who may be listening to think differently.
We need our elected officials to understand the need to commit funding and staffing resources to climate research, mitigation efforts and adaptation in our top environmental and climate science agencies.
In the end, every little bit counts.
Environmental advocate. Communications professional. Sports fan. I love television and press conferences.