Responding to climate change deniers.

We had just arrived at our cabin in Montana from St. Louis where it’s 100+ degrees. As we unpack the car, my husband mentions climate change to a neighbor from across the way.

“Climate change is a crock,” responds our neighbor.

Over his shoulder, I see swaths of dying trees languishing on the flanks of Contact Mountain, the result of a pine beetle infestation that is very likely itself a result of stress from warming.  The fire danger is high from the intense heat and drought this summer. The box canyon where we are located in the Boulder River Valley is one of the places firefighters worry most about. There is only one way in and one way out – a single lane dirt road – for the 3,000 plus residents and visitors who are here during the summer months.

Why, I wonder, is it that the more evidence is right in front of us, the angrier and louder the voices of climate denial get? How many of these trees have to die before my neighbor will see a problem? Will the whole forest be enough? (And with the year-by-year increases in afflicted trees and fire danger that does not seem to be out of the question.)

So, I spent the better part of a morning when I could have been hiking responding to an email my neighbor sent.

What does this have to do with fishers? Well, the fishers I know aren’t arguing with the scientists about declines in the fisheries or whether the changes they see are related to climate change or overfishing. They’re working with the scientists to try to figure out how to conserve their livelihoods and their children’s futures. But, nothing they do will ultimately have much impact if we don’t act, because climate change knows no boundaries. When it comes to climate change, what happens in Montana, doesn’t stay in Montana. Red states influence on policy affects more than their own dying trees.

Anyway, for those of you who might be interested in responding to your neighbors when they give you “the facts on global warming”  — here’s my response to my neighbor and a link to an article deconstructing an editorial he attached with his email.  My neighbor hasn’t responded, but I learned a lot about the thinking behind climate change denial and how to respond.

Hi Carl,

Thanks for sending the article. I am glad you are open to a discussion!

That Open Letter to the Wall Street Journal you sent me from the 16 scientists who think it’s premature to take action on climate change was interesting. Here is a link with some background on the scientists who signed that article:

The Journal Hires Dentists To Do Heart Surgery

Did you know the Wall Street Journal turned down a letter signed by 255 scientists from the National Academy of Sciences in support of taking climate change seriously in policy considerations?

The tobacco companies were behind a disinformation campaign in the 1960’s to argue that tobacco didn’t cause lung cancer. The tobacco industry recruited scientists, attacked mainstream science as a conspiracy and contributed to “independent” groups just as the oil companies are doing now to discredit climate change science. The difference is that the atmosphere is our planet’s lungs and the consequences will most likely be dire for all of our children.

In fact, the pine beetle infestation that is devastating the forests here in Montana right now is likely connected to climate change.

http://deq.mt.gov/ClimateChange/NaturalResources/Forestry/forestryClimateChangeEra.mcpx

The thing I think about is this: even if the science confirming human influence on climate is wrong (setting aside the discussion of how likely that is), the benefits from not being dependent on foreign oil and ever-more dangerous oil extraction technologies can only be good for all of us.

When I make a personal decision, I always try to look at the worst case scenario. The worst case from taking action to limit carbon emissions is limiting the profits of oil and gas companies. The worst case on the other side is catastrophic for future generations.

Best,

Corinne

Best,                                                                                                                       Corinne

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3 thoughts on “Responding to climate change deniers.

  1. “In fact, the pine beetle infestation that is devastating the forests here in Montana right now has been connected to climate change”

    Thats the problem right there. if you are over age 20 you likely remember the reason why we used to have insect infestations; it was insecticide use. For decades biologists told us that insect infestations were caused by imbalances due to insecticides. All of the thousands of biologists told us this everyday, so we protested to try to stop insecticides. Now all of those protests were for nothing and all of the work of those old biologists have been tossed out the window. They were wrong, its was not insecticide use at all, it was climate change all along.

    Climate change is the Unified field theory of everything. Reduced Salmon populations used to be due to overfishing, now its CC. All of those old scientists and their work are brushed aside by the Unified Field Theory of Everything, climate Change. Coral bleaching, glacial retreat, earlier spring, later spring, larger women, smaller women, droughts, rain, wind, ocean rise, cow farts, ocean fall, plate tectonics and hundreds of other phenomena are now explained with one thing CC. There is no need to do real science anymore, it’s already done. Even Global cooling is explained with global warming, and so is everything else. In the old days, only God explained all of these things, now its Climate Change.

    • I can only suggest looking at the link I provided in the post, it’s from the Montana State Government website, not a bastion of overheated rhetoric. And I do know a little something about fisheries: overfishing by human beings was and is a problem. From what I’ve read, there are some scientists predicting future affects of climate change on salmon fisheries, but there are many, many other factors involved (and, yes, most of them can be traced to human beings). When you have a complex system like climate that affects the entire planet, there are bound to be wide ranging consequences. However, there are many things climate science doesn’t explain – human nature being one of them. For the most part, we’re all good people trying to work things out.

  2. Just out today, from Grist, an article stating that fire is the “New Normal” for the West. LINK The rhetoric may be overheated – or maybe it’s just right — but the facts are there for the checking.

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