How To Bring the Environmental Message to Conservatives

bush
image from National Post

Finally, something may exist that both environmentalists and George W. Bush can agree on: the ineffectiveness of fear mongering.

Because of the fake severity of their message, “doomsday” environmentalists who claim that the world will end in a few years if mankind doesn’t act quickly have turned many people off to caring about the world around them.

You don’t necessarily have to care about polar bears, how quickly Greenland is melting or how fast the ozone is depleting. But you should realize how your actions tie into environmental changes we see locally and globally.

Conservative talk radio host Rush Limbaugh started the countdown on a doomsday clock after the release of An Inconvenient Truth because he claims that the documentary warned that global warming will kill us all in 10 years. I would tell you the time we have left to live on this earth, according to Limbaugh’s clock, but unfortunately I cannot access it on his Web site because I’m not a Rush 24/7 Member. Damn.

Do you care about the world around you? Well, let’s just say that you don’t.

And you don’t necessarily have to.

To live green, your motivations can be entirely selfish. You only need to care about yourself, your wallet and your species’ ultimate survival.

Although green living and the belief in global warming usually go hand in hand, you don’t have to get married to the idea. You don’t necessarily have to care about polar bears, how quickly Greenland is melting or how fast the ozone is depleting. But you should realize how your actions tie into environmental changes we see locally and globally.

Yes, you’re right. I will probably pimp Al Gore at the drop of an Arctic ice sheet because I think he has done a wonderful job of bringing visibility to a previously downplayed issue.

However, this is a problem that transcends political boundaries, and I want to bring as many viewpoints to the table as possible.

What many people have a problem with is the confusing wording used by the scientific community when describing the problem.

Isn’t global warming only a theory?

Exactly.

In science, everything is theoretical, and nothing can ever be completely proved or disproved. A mere hypothesis can only move into the upper echelons of being a theory after numerous tests, experiments and other hypotheses have failed to falsify the evidence.

Check out any 100-level chemistry or biology course.

Everyone seems to be content with many other theories that we deal with daily, such as the theory of gravity. Maybe when Americans can see climate change in their everyday lives will we finally commit to living a greener lifestyle.

Even if you still think that global warming is caused by a bunch of liberals blowing hot air, that’s fine.

Whatever your political viewpoints, your background, your socio-economic standing or your Facebook status, you can all be green with me.

originally published in Jayplay magazine on Jan. 24, 2008 (PDF). Click here for its original online home.

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3 responses to “How To Bring the Environmental Message to Conservatives

  1. The problem for some (like me) is not so much that global warming itself is ‘only a theory’. First of all historical global warming is recorded fact – the earth’s temperature has, according to measurements, increased in the past century or so. Future global warming, on the other hand, is indeed a theory, based entirely on computer models which may or may not be correct. (I’ve worked on climate models, and don’t believe they are worth much.)

    But that’s neither here nor there. I’m willing to provisionally accept the models’ findings, because as you point out, that’s what one does in science. The real problem though is that the benefits of the proposed remedies (limiting CO2 emissions, etc) don’t outweigh the costs – at least, it is far from obvious that they do.

    A true scientific approach to the challenges posed by global warming would involve a detailed cost-benefit analysis: “Because of global warming, X will happen, and this will be bad, costing $Y when you tally everything up, but we can do Z which will mitigate the effects of X at a cost of only $W < $Y.”

    Make a convincing argument of that form, and I’ll be right there with you. I have seen no such thing, not ever. Certainly not from the likes of Al Gore.

  2. Continuing a decade-long trend of declining global temperatures, the year 2008 was significantly colder than 2007, and global temperatures for the year were below the average over the past 30 years.

    The global temperature data, reported by NASA satellite-based temperature measurements, refuted predictions 2008 would be one of the warmest on record.

    http://www.heartland.org/publications/environment%20climate/article/24739/Global_Cooling_Continues.html

  3. I wholeheartedly agree that one of the real problems about acceptance and understanding of sustainability is this flawed perception of isolation–people not seeing the vast number of connections between their actions and everything else. Think about how we report on things? We isolate events for hyper-focus and critique and then after a day the article is gone. Who cares who was on the cover of last month’s People magazine? It’s in the past, forgotten, yesterday’s news. As we know the truth is that every event and action influences another, but that’s not often how we tell stories.

    It’s true that global warming is not an exclusive right of passage for sustainability and that many things about sustainability make sense (fiscal, social, ethical) but I don’t think you should let people off too easily. Clean air, clean water, fresh water supply, food supply… who doesn’t want these things?! Things that are dangers even if the globe is not getting warmer and have no shortage of scientific data and they’re not hard to solve.

    Interconnections. People (especially us Americans) need to do more with less and accept that our success does not afford us the right to be wasteful. Perhaps I’m overly optimistic to think we can get to such a place.

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