The amount of American people who think the threat of global warming has been seriously overblown is growing from year to year, and according to Gallup right now more than 45% think so. I would say this is a rather conservative number, and maybe even more distrust the science behind climate change.
So really what many believe is a direct contradiction to scientific consensus. As it becomes ever more evident that global warming is happening and that is has to do with GHG emissions more people deny this fact and rather believe in a huge hoax/conspiracy. What are the reasons for this illogical behaviour? Scientific research is often difficult to grasp, and day-to-day experience is often at odds with what we perceive should happen when global warming occurs (cold winter…). Furthermore people, and especially Americans, don’t like the authoritarian sound of environmentalists; also, we are worried about giving up some of our “modern lifestyle achievements”.
Hard evidence is no good when trying to convince in an emotionally heated-up discussion. Libertarian think tanks such as the Heartland Institute do their part in undermining the efforts of UNFCCC and the scientific community by giving sceptics an inappropriately big platform, and many Americans have come to view this Institute as a research conducting entity-which is it not, it is a Tea Party supporting right-winged propaganda institution. Other activities of theirs include Obama-bashing and convincing the public that passive smoking isn’t harmful. The have organised a Climate wiki with a scientific look and feel that gives deniers the tools they need – easy-to-digest pseudo science spiced up with some “gut-feeling” reassurance.
So how will we manage to mitigate climate change and raise the money for necessary adaptations? We need to bring the “four-legged stool” (@Arnold Schwarzenegger) back into the game. Jobs/economy, health benefits, energy security and the potential savings for households and businesses in energy bills are factors that will appeal even to conservative hardliners. The planet doesn’t care why we cut down on emissions, even if we do it for the worst reasons (greed) the benefits will be the same.
Why am I writing this? Sometimes I despair when I talk to people who will not trust scientific consensus, and drive me mad with their uninformed, misinformed or sometimes plain stupid arguments. To keep my hopeful outlook on the future, I remind myself that it doesn’t matter if they believe in anthropogenic climate change or not, as long as we can convince them switch to a more efficient less polluting lifestyle. And that is what our job is.