I’ve started leaving the radio on in the car again. It hasn’t been long and I’m already thinking I should leave it off again. Today I was listening to Democracy Now on my way home. I think on the whole, they do good reporting, although I think they are swayed by their own biases occasionally. Still, they do a better job on average than other news outlets. They were broadcasting from some climate summit in Poland today. And here’s my first problem:
What the hell is the point of these climate change summits? I mean, what do they honestly hope to achieve? Who goes to them? I would imagine it’s mostly people who are already on the climate change boat. So are they just re-convincing themselves? Figuring out which climate legislation to push for? At the end of the day, few, if any, additional people are convinced of the merit of their arguments. I think this does absolutely NOTHING to help their cause. It honestly amounts to a big event where everyone pats themselves on the back.
Just to get it out of the way, I’ll say climate change is most likely a real problem (in the grander scheme, not because it “caused” severe weather event ‘x’ this year). I’m personally on the fence as to whether it’s human-caused or not, but that’s a moot point, so we can just ignore it. We might as well say it is human-caused, since that at least leaves us in an easy position to fix the problem.
Eventually, I couldn’t even listen to the radio show anymore. The amount of condescension and person delusion I was hearing was just too much. In my mind, there are two phases of solution that need to happen here, and summits like this one are not part of that mix. Phase one is to convince other people who aren’t already convinced. Phase two is to actually engage in active solutions.
Phase one should be really easy, but it’s where people flub the most. It should be easy because this problem affects every single person. It doesn’t discriminate against age, race, sex, or least of all, political affiliation. So all you need to do is convince someone that this problem affects them and how it affects them, because it does. This may be different from person to person, but that’s the task at hand. Going around to conferences and summits deriding those “climate change deniers” does literally nothing to help your cause! If anything, it encourages people to dig in. I know that’s how I’d respond in that position. Maybe you find out why they don’t believe it affects them? Understand their position. Respect their logic and reasoning. It’s easy to say that people are stupid, and that you know better than they do, but again, that doesn’t help you convince them. Everyone has a different view of the world, shaped by their own experiences, but they are inherently reasonable. At the very least reasonable enough to understand when something threatens them. Your goal shouldn’t be to speak at summits, sign petitions or any of that fluff, it should be to bring as many people together on the issue as possible. That’s not easy, but it’s what you have to do. Because when you get the group large enough, with enough people from a wide array of backgrounds, then everything just works. You’re not “fighting” any opposition anymore. People are in agreement, and want to help the common goal. A goal which each person feels benefits them, which again, should be easy in this case, because it does.
Phase two is the more difficult phase, again often flubbed by people, and often skipped to without even considering phase one. Demanding action, whether it be via protests or summits or by pushing legislation looks great, but it accomplishes very little. Maybe it’s just the protests I’ve seen, but they always seem like summits on a small scale. Some changes can only be brought about by protest, but action on climate change isn’t one of them. It’s just a bunch of like-minded people patting themselves on the back and getting the occasional proverbial “thumbs up” from passers by. And what are climate change protesters really asking for? Are you asking governments to enforce some law that reduces CO2? Why? Isn’t that something you can do? Oh wait, you skipped phase one, so you only have small numbers. Not nearly enough to make some boycott or behavior change effective. Any time I see calls for government to act on climate change, I imagine people asking the government to force them to behave in a certain way because they can’t do it on their own. It’s unnecessary and a waste of government time and resources. At the end of the day, actions that have a real effect are all on you. But let’s say you’re already environment-conscious, or “green”. What do you do now? You go back to phase one. You help others to achieve what you have achieved. You reduced the amount of miles you drive? Great. Help your neighbor do the same. Don’t lecture her on climate change blah blah blah, just help her to make the same change you did. After you’ve helped her, help someone else. She’ll help someone else too. See how it works? No government necessary. This can still be done without completing phase one, but it sure would be massively easier if you already had a critical mass of people fighting for the same cause. Even then it’s not easy. Changing your behavior isn’t easy at all. Helping others change theirs? Even less so. Which is why I think people don’t do it. It’s like they’re clamoring for action on climate change, going on hunger strikes, protesting in the arctic…so what? I hear a lot of clamoring and noise, but I don’t see any action. Don’t wait around for the government to step to action, because it might not. And even if it does, if there are lots of people out there who aren’t convinced, they’re going to dig in and defend their positions. Then we get nowhere. STOP DIVIDING!
I use the word “pushers” to describe people in varying areas who push their agendas so hard, they omit facts at best, and outright distort the truth at worst. They believe that they are so right, and their cause is so just, they’ll do anything to push it onto other people. I don’t care if you are right, and your cause is the most just cause that ever was: Pushing it onto people isn’t going to help you in the long run. Again, we come back to reaching that critical mass. Bringing enough people together. Less pushers, more pullers. Pull people to you and your cause. Invite them in. Treat them with respect and dignity. Listen to their concerns. Understand their fears. Or is that too much for you? Any idiot can push. Just turn on the TV or pick up a newspaper. Pullers are much rarer these days.
I’ll close with a remark about “freak” weather events. Look, I’ve already established I’m pretty much in agreement on climate change, even if I’m hesitant to label it human-caused. As someone who cares about our environment from the perspective that it’s a gift that belongs to all of us, I’d like to see as much of it preserved as possible. But I cannot stand people attributing freak weather as caused by climate change. People who do that are pushers. They’re using fear to help push. That’s the worst. Hurricane Sandy? A hurricane was BOUND to hit that area of coast sooner or later. I’m sure it’s happened many times in the past before all our shit was sitting on the coast. Devastating tornadoes? They happen too. Again, long before all our shit was there. Helping to build agreement on climate change is great, just don’t use the fear of severe weather to push it. The link is tenuous at best. These things happen. The fact that more people are living in the zones where this stuff happens is the reason they seem so much more destructive. Also, how far back do our records of hurricanes go? Not far I’d imagine. And good records, even less. Climate change is a very long term thing.
In conclusion: More pulling. Less pushing. Let’s come together here. Make real behavior changes yourself. Help others to do the same. Any idiot can hold a sign and chant slogans at a protest. Actually changing behavior is really hard. But it’s the only thing that works.