Why I ‘Believe’ in Climate Change — and Why it Doesn’t Matter
In total, 566 humans have been in space. Ever. They’re the only ones who have seen our spheroid planet from above. And yet most of the nearly eight billion of us alive today would agree that the earth is round. Ask yourself why you believe that. How do you know?
Consider a few more. How do you know that…
… everything around you is made up of things called “atoms”?
… there are black holes?
… smoking causes cancer?
… Plato existed?
If you’re not a physicist, oncologist, or historian, how do you know these things?
We take these truths to be self-evident because we trust experts. We trust history, written and spoken record, common understanding, and the assembled evidence of science. We listen to our teachers, our doctors, our parents, our journalists (most of us, until recently), and others. And yet, with climate change, it seems everyone is an expert.
I’ve received many emails lately from colleagues who have a [friend/uncle/in-law] who doesn’t believe in the phenomenon known as climate change. Someone asked me to send over my “quick paragraph” on why we should consider climate change a real and dangerous problem.
My attempt to explain will certainly fail to an extent. Those who don’t buy climate change yet may not come around for any reason. I’ve heard the full panoply of climate denier arguments. (I apologize to those who bristle at the word “denier,” but finding a better word is for another time.) I wrote a couple of articles on climate denial recently that got heavy traffic. Check out the comment section on “Denying Climate Denial,” which was the #1 article on Medium for a day, to see most of the major arguments. I can’t cover all possible objections here. (More on that in a moment.)
All I can do is say what I know to be true.