I had my first encounter with people who don’t agree with me about climate change.
It didn’t go the way I had always imagined it—taking a stroll with a climate denier and having an enjoyable conversation while we look at flowers and beautiful things.
Instead, it was frustrating–I got angry; they said mean things.
There were two people involved. A man and a woman.
This was their argument: “I know the climate changes—it’s a natural thing, but I just don’t believe humans are involved. Plus, no one can actually know what’s going to happen in the future. If something is wrong, I have a lot of faith in technology.”
He had a point; no one knows what will happen in the future.
Scientists and mathematicians can get pretty close with these things called projections–the IPCC defines it “as any description of the future and the pathway leading to it.” And they don’t just use an Ouija board and hope for the best. They use math, computer models, and a lot of time to be sure.
These models aren’t perfect; the predictions aren’t set in stone. We’re constantly acting without knowledge about the future. I don’t even know what the first day of classes in my last semester of undergraduate is going to be like, or even what I’ll eat for dinner, but that lack of future knowledge doesn’t mean I won’t go to class or eat food.
Even if the future of climate change is unknown, we should still walk on the Earth a little lighter, just in case those projections are right.
My main point when I was talking to them was putting the human into the story. At first, it seems impossible that humans could change something so big and powerful like the climate. When looking at data of Earth’s past climates, the climate has always changed for a lot for different reasons. But those past causes aren’t applicable right now; the only factor that’s influencing climate currently is humans.
This is important because if we are the ones making things change, we have the power to reduce our influence and hopefully insure a better future for humans living on Earth. And for me, this is where human emotion comes in. No one will care about climate change if they don’t know how that change is going to feel. When something we love is threatened, we fight for it and protect it.
When I mentioned human emotion, compassion, and just being nice, they shot me down. “Human emotion has nothing to do with it.” This hurt a little because I had explained that The Climate Pickle was my way of sharing stories and bringing the human into the debate, but they told me, very directly, that it was pointless.
I was mostly frustrated because I really tried to listen to them and see their take on the matter, but when I tried to show them mine, they weren’t open to even listening. When you boil climate change down, it’s not about believing. It’s about being a good living being, and caring about other’s suffering because one day you could feel that suffering.
I read a super interesting article that wraps up how I feel about this experience. The Pope believes climate change is “mostly man made,” and regardless of the mostly responsible, he recognized that “man…has slapped nature in the face.”