As an environmentalist … No. Stop. Not environmentalist; I hate that word. (Thinking out loud again, sorry)
Ok. Take 2:
… As an advocate of the movement to save this planet and everything on it from extinction due to climate change; pollution; deforestation; drought; famine; irresponsible multinationals; GM food; banks; nuclear proliferation; media moguls; desertification; Audi drivers and oceanic acidification, I often find myself embroiled in a heated debate over climate change with people I like to refer to as The Denialists.
Occasionally, I will manage to have a meaningful, in-depth, well-researched, enlightening discussion with one of these people. All too often, though, most denialists just seem capable of coming up with the same tired arguments and replies regarding the realities of climate change and environmental degradation. Below are the five that I hear time and again:
Stupid quote#1: “Man-made climate change isn’t real: Earth’s climate has always gone in cycles”
Answer#1: Yes agreed, the earth’s climate has always gone in cycles – hot, cold, hot, cold, hot, cold, etc. Well done. However, what we are doing by polluting the atmosphere with too many additional greenhouse gases is interrupting the delicate process that causes these cycles thus pushing the whole system into overload. Ironically, we are jeopardising the precise mechanism that denialists so love to wave in our faces.
The earth has maintained an intricate balance over the last few billion years because it had all the tools it required: sunlight, clouds, ice, forests, gases, minerals, plants, animals, etc, etc. What we’ve done over the last few centuries is come along and thrown some truly momentous spanners in the works. Still; the unbelievers think that we should just let the Earth get on with it while we do the same. Ok. What an interesting experiment…
Stupid quote#2: “What’s the point in curbing carbon emissions when China and India are building a coal-fired power station every week?”
Answer#2: Yes, yes, yes. That’s the attitude. Why bother? We’re buggered anyway.
Geeeeez people, since when did two wrongs make a right? Of course this makes the task before us even harder, but we’re tougher than that, aren’t we? This life we currently enjoy must be worth fighting for, if not for us, then for our children and our grandchildren.
An analogy that springs to mind here is that it’s like the guy who goes to the gym and is then perceived to undo all the good work he’s just done by having a burger and a cigarette afterwards. Yes, you could argue that there’s no point in going to the gym if he continues to eat junk food and smoke. I would argue, though, that whether or not he eats badly and smokes, he’s still ultimately doing himself more good by going to the gym than if he’d stayed away.
If by curbing our destructive ways of life we are – at best – just cancelling out what China and India are doing; well then at least we’re doing something.
Dr Jorge Argibay also added this valid point: “It is precisely by doing something about carbon emissions that we can acquire the authority to ask China and India to do the same!” Exactly, thanks Jorge.
Quote#3: “The Earth will survive no matter what we do to it”
Answer#3: Perhaps. But we’re talking about our survival here, aren’t we? Excusing inaction by offering this quote is dumb at best. Surely we want to protect this planet’s ability to sustain life so that our ancestors can also enjoy life… don’t we? To say something like that shows up a selfish streak a mile wide.
Anyway, how do we know the planet will survive? Has it ever been tested like this before? I agree, that it’s managed to thaw its way out of an ice-age or two, but let’s remember: the earth has at its core a massive nuclear fusion reactor that’s hot enough to melt rock. So it’s not really surprising it has the capacity to thaw itself. But to cool itself when so many of its cooling mechanisms have been stripped away, altered or poisoned? Who really knows?
Stupid quote#4 “We’re not running out of fossil fuels. We have loads of oil, gas and coal left”
Answer#4: Agreed, but this oil and gas is continually getting harder and more expensive to find and extract. This also comes at great risk.
I’ll just sum up with these three words: Deep. Water. Horizon.
Stupid quote#5 “Climate change is a myth fabricated by the big corporations and governments of the world so that they can increase profits and raise taxes on the back of it”
Answer#5: So the entire world’s scientific community is on the payroll of the corporations? Oh please. That’s as silly as saying that George. W. Bush planned and executed 9/11. Admittedly, there are plenty of vested interests in keeping the climate change debate alive, but the fact that it’s made up simply to make money just doesn’t ring true.
As for the governments; well, they don’t need excuses to raise our taxes, let alone an excuse that costs as much as concocting something as big as climate change. Get real people.
In summary then…
So then, if like me, you find yourself confronted by climate change denialists who seem intent on spouting these ever-used quotations to back up their arguments, then please feel free to call upon the answers above, if like me, you also find that you can only ever think of a suitable repartee once the debate is over (usually around a week later in my case).
Of course you are probably clever enough to counter to these dumb-assed quotes for yourself. If you do have cleverer, wittier or shrewder answers to these arguments than mine, then please let me know and I’ll add then to this post (and also use them myself, if I may). Thanks.
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