Answering climate change skeptics


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Occasionally, when I tell people at a professional or social event that I am a climate change engineer, I get scorn – from climate change skeptics. Perhaps you’ve met such people, too, when you identify yourself as working in the environmental or sustainability area. I divide such people into 2 groups: those idealistically anti-climate change or the environment and those who are unsure, but swayed by what they hear from political pundits. For the former, I simply change the subject. Nothing I say, no amount of proof will change their views. They are so convinced that they will deny proof as a conspiracy.

But for the other group the question really is: has it been proven that climate change exists and is a manmade phenomenon? Such questions are asked because they have heard from some who believe that climate change has not been proven.

The only response I have is based strictly on science. Simply put, the overwhelming majority of scientists who study this believe that manmade emissions of GHGs at least contributes significantly, if not is the main factor, to climate change. This is not a 51:49 majority of scientists or even a larger 70:30 majority. According to a recent UN poll, it is a 98:2 majority that agree with this contention. And for anything in any realm to get 98% agreement is very rare! Remember, these are scientists devoted to studying the topic, not TV pundits without scientific credentials who are out to stir controversy for ratings. If you were ill, who would you listen to, your doctor or a pundit? Scientists in the area are the ones we should listen to on matters of science. I can’t find the source, but I read of a study of papers published in refereed scientific journals. In the 10-year period from 1996 and 2005, there were about 950 such papers about climate change. Every one showed proof of the view that climate change exists and/or manmade emissions of GHGs causes this. Not one article in a scientific journal showed any proof of the opposite view.

Finally, let’s look at the logic. Scientists determined that GHGs are capable of capturing radiation and release the energy as heat back in the 19th century! The concentrations of these GHGs in our atmosphere have increased – by direct measurement. The increase of CO2, the most common GHG, corresponds strongly to the increased use of fossil fuels on the planet (such as proliferation of the automobile), and corresponds with the temperature rise we are all seeing in terms of climate change. These relationships have been determined by these scientists of the highest credentials to be strong.

Climate change skeptics are in many places, including the workplace, and may affect the opportunity to grow a “green” or sustainability program. Knowing how to answer such skeptics in an intelligent way is an important factor to keep your program growing.

CCES can help your company grow your sustainability programs and engender support from employees, stakeholders, etc. Contact CCES to help you see the benefits.

Customer comments

  1. By Chris Baulman on

    I think it is a mistake to dismiss skeptics. We should dig a little deeper rather than thinking their skepticism is because they are uneducated or ideological. I think many people are scared of losing what theyhave invested in - their home, their job, their lifestyle.We should recognise and address those fears, especially when we know that when China and India come on board, resource and energy levels are bound to skyrocket. Wealth and jobs will have to be shared aroundmuch more equitably, so our wellbeing will not be able to depend on resources, energy and competition as has been the case since at least industrialisation. It would be optimistic in the extreme to think that technology will save us by providing our consumer lifestyle for everyone on the planet. We should respectfully face the fears people have first of all, then promote carefully thought through ways that we can all enjoy a good life. In the interest of identifying the fears so we might then find solutions I have seeded some ideas on a public space anyone can add to and vote. The address is Regards Chris Baulman - @landrights4all