my thoughts on climate change skepticism

[Welcome to our annual Guest Writer Series! Up next is JM, Guest Writer #9 (of 12). JM is one of my favorite people. A thoughtful college senior, I can’t wait to see what he does next! … ]


 (To keep this blog concise, human-induced climate change is referred to simply as climate change. I recognize there is a difference but didn’t want to berate you with my wordiness.) 

When you think of teachers, you probably assume that their greatest fears stem from misbehaving children and low test scores.  However, as a future biology teacher, my greatest fear is being accused of brainwashing people’s children.  I currently go to a conservative Christian college, so I’m already used to the question: how do you feel about public schools forcing you to teach [insert any controversial scientific theory]?  My answer?  I usually just shrug and tell them I have no issue with it because I teach facts, not opinions.  

It saddens me to see the skepticism that religion and politics have created towards science.  Somehow, the rise of individualism in our culture has made us complacent with small snippets of a personalized reality over one based in reason, community, and faith.  As soon as we hear a statistic we don’t like, it is immediately cast aside as biased, politicized, or inaccurate.  

While I could point out how scientific facts are dodged in a variety of topics today, I’d like to focus specifically on the one I believe is most criticized and abused: climate change.  Growing up, this was the topic I was told to shut down at all costs.  No matter how much my teachers crammed it down my throat, it was my job to trust in the system, live carefree, and trust the Earth to straighten itself out on its own.  I was told to see climate change as hog-wash for a variety of reasons, but I’d like to specifically call out seven that I feel are most predominate today.

1. Human-induced climate change is a theory and lacks proof.  

Yes, climate change is based in theory, but it is what I like to call a “Capital-T” theory.  That meaning, it is backed by a significant amount of evidence and is supported by the majority of the scientific community.  I’ve often heard that climate recordings haven’t been documented long enough to be reliable.  However, it would be impossible to live at all if every missing puzzle piece was required of a topic before putting our trust in it.   The positive correlation between industrialization, population growth, and unstable climate is clear as day, and correlation is the foundation of possibly every decision we make as human beings.  I get being hesitant, but to put off believing in statistics purely because of a factor we can’t fix without time travel isn’t rational. 

2. If we are supposed to care about climate change, God would have told us in the Bible, Torah, etc.  

I know not everyone here is religious, but I’ve heard this enough times that it must be included.  I would hope that most people can see the problem with this statement without me commenting.  After all, even though religious doctrine doesn’t talk directly about contemporary topics, that doesn’t mean it can’t be applied. Unfortunately, the need for application allows certain people to apply doctrine inaccurately. I was once told believing in climate change was prideful because humans don’t have control over the Earth; God does. If anyone has this thought, please re-read Genesis 1 and 2. I don’t mean to be cold, but as a Christian, I know the Bible is very clear in humanity’s role to protect the Earth.  How we treat the Earth matters. And yes, God is okay with your pastor using a Sunday to talk about God’s call to steward the Earth instead of heaven for a change.  

3. Even if climate change is real, there’s nothing we can do to fix it now.  

As much as we love to empower individuals as a culture, it’s strange how quick we are to shut ourselves down when faced with a challenge. I’ll be straight up. No one person is not going to fix the damage we’ve done to the Earth. But one person can make huge changes in their home and community, so it’s wrong to think your actions don’t matter. My advice is to focus on the small impacts you can make and inspire others to do the same. With time and persuasion, perhaps we truly can work together to build our small actions into a movement.  

4. Why should I care about climate change if it’s not the biggest problem?

The ‘biggest problem’ in the world today is a hotly contested category that most of my age group tends to fill with climate change. This tends to be where I stray from the pack. While I recognize that climate change is a serious concern for my generation and all those following, I fail to see how it takes precedent over the violence and devastation shaking the world presently.  All that said, waiting for climate change to become more problematic before acting, especially when it’s one of the most preventable issues we’re currently faced with, is something we can no longer allow to occur.

5. Believing in climate change is a liberal stance, and I can’t fight it without looking crazy. 

I’ve been given my own share of eye rolls when discussing environmental activism, so I get it. I can’t say much to deny the reality of judgment. People don’t take kindly to tree-huggers. That’s just reality. But I can say that being proactive towards climate change should not be a political issue. Politics gets involved when it comes to alternative energy, job creation, budgeting and taxes. Cutting down on your pollution is what is going to make the difference at the end of the day, and it doesn’t make you any more/less of a Democrat or Republican; it just makes you a better human being.  

6. I don’t have the money necessary to fight climate change.  

The idea that living ecologically is more expensive than a wasteful lifestyle is a misrepresentation. Global warming boils down to energy usage. The less you use, the more you help. So don’t use your iPhone 24/7, take shorter showers, don’t leave lights on when you’re not using them. BOOM. You just saved the earth AND your monthly bill. Yes, it costs money to recycle or buy organic, but beyond that, it’s not hard to choose items with less packaging, bring your own bags to the grocery store, or shop locally before searching the web.

7. Do you realize how difficult it is to live an eco-friendly lifestyle?  

Yes. A million times yes. Throughout this post, I’ve probably hid behind the façade that I’m an amazing person with no environmental baggage. The truth is, outside of having a catalytic converter on my car, I’m not doing much for the Earth. Don’t get me wrong; I’ve had my success streaks, but being an activist for the Earth is the same as working towards a six pack (which I also don’t have). You don’t master a routine overnight. But just because a skill is difficult or takes time to develop, doesn’t mean we should put it off. Living for the Earth is an amazing opportunity and something I truly believe deserves more attention.  



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