Climate change and denial

Tristan Lawson

Staff Writer

Last week, President Barack Obama, as well as many other world leaders, met in Paris for a conference on climate change. Meanwhile, here in the United States, Republican candidates for president, pundits on conservative news media outlets and members of local governments continue to deny climate change is actually happening.

This leaves us to wonder: Why are the most important and influential people in the world having a meeting about something that is not real? Don’t they have better things to do? Couldn’t they be playing golf? For educators, people attempting to provoke a serious discussion about possible solutions to climate change and others who just want to make sure that they leave the world better than how they found it, this is extremely frustrating.

Much like mental illnesses, you cannot get better until you admit there is a problem. So the domestic conversation on how to change our current course in regards to climate change and how to reverse the situation appears to be stuck in the mud, until people in denial come to their senses.

But why and how some people continue to deny the seemingly obvious will remain a mystery to many. There are, however, some very real reasons this phenomenon continues to occur.

Environmental science is extremely complex – so complex and so tied in to other fields of science that explaining our current situation to people even with an average knowledge of environmental science is much like explaining jazz to a fox.

The media does not help this situation. Much like other complex issues which require a lot of time and energy to just grasp the information, such as the economy, racial issues and the structure and function of government institutions, explanations about climate change just don’t fit very well into a 5-minute TV segment or a brief article on your news feed.

The causes, effects, solutions and inevitable sacrifices required to stop climate change are contained in volumes upon volumes of scientific studies, research data and the notes of dedicated environmental scientists.

Essentially, to really make a change in the crash course that humanity is headed for, the first thing we need to do is stop arguing and discrediting the life’s work of these professionals who have put all of their energy and have sacrificed a great deal to provide us with this information.

Stop listening to politicians about the environment. You would get about as much factual information from your toaster, and it would be mixed with a lot of rhetoric and opinion. Call your local news station and ask them to please spend a little more time discussing environmental issues, and a little less time talking about some celebrity sex scandal or professional athlete’s poor behavior.

The key to understanding what is happening to the environment, climate change, and how we can make a difference, is education. Take an environmental studies class, engage people who hope to make a difference and show them support, ask people who study the world what they have learned. The more you learn about how complex our environment is, the more you will understand how fragile it is. The more you learn about how we are affecting the world, the more you can learn ways to lessen your footprint by making educated decisions every day.

Listen and learn from those who decided a long time ago that knowing and understanding Mother Earth, and respecting and sharing what she is trying to tell us, is a noble and selfless ambition which should be respected. And next time you are having a conversation with someone who is in “climate change denial,” tell them they need help.