Saturday, March 05, 2011

Why Rochesterians don’t believe in Climate Change


Corporate%20Profit%20RobotEnvironmentalists, in their efforts to develop strategies that will work, entertain many notions about why most American don’t believe in Climate Change. Some say that it’s about denial: The dire consequences of Climate Change are so overwhelming that many Americans deal with it by not dealing with it. Go on a vacation, switch channels, or go see a new flick. The will not to believe.

Others think Climate Change avoidance continues despite all evidence that it’s as true as gravity because of corporate influence peddling. This view is that the new ruling by the Supreme Court, Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, and the proliferation of corporate money in our politics rules. That’s pretty scary considering that corporations have only one true value—making sure that they make a profit for their shareholders. To get a sense of the gravity and preponderance of this pernicious influence in our alleged democracy check out:

Citizens United vs FEC “The movie explores the history of the American corporation and corporate political spending, the appropriate roles of citizens and for-profit corporations in a democracy and the toxic impact the Citizens United decision has already had on our political process. It ends with a call to amend the U.S. Constitution to confirm that people—not corporations—make the decisions in a democracy.” The Story of Citizens United v. FEC: Why Democracy Only Works When People Are in Charge

Then there’s a new study by the University of Michigan that suggests one’s political party affiliations are the greatest factor in whether or not you believe in Climate Change:

“In the United States an individual’s partisan affiliation is the most important determinant of their views on the existence of global warming, with Democrats significantly more likely than Republicans to believe that the Earth is warming” Climate Compared: Public Opinion on Climate Change in the United States and Canada | Center for Local, State, and Urban Policy

This study is amazing when you think about it, as it demonstrates how powerful partisan beliefs affect our powers of reason.  Why would the science of Climate Change, the physics of how our planet’s long-term weather works, be believed by members of one political party more than another?  The answer might seem obvious to you, but it might be worth considering for a few minutes since Climate Change will affect the rest of our existence.  The planet is warming up due to man’s behavior and a sizable part of our population just doesn’t buy it because their political party doesn’t like it?  "Curiouser and curiouser."

Who knows why a majority of Americans refuse to recognize Climate Change and have no intention of doing anything about it. Whatever the reason, some solution must be found. Maybe some Americans are just waiting for that ole American spirit to kick in: When Hitler invaded Poland and Great Britain went to war (Sunday 3rd September 1939), Americans refused to join believing for a variety of reasons that it wasn’t our war. And so the refusal to think we were a part of this war (despite Lend-Lease) went on until the attack on Pearl Harbor. Then, on December 7th, 1941 Americans joined the war. We pulled together a vast military machinery from (almost) scratch and went on to win the war.

Perhaps this is what many American are thinking will happen with Climate Change. We’ll have a great silent debate amongst ourselves for years and years, and then, when we cannot avoid it anymore, we’ll charge in.

But by the time Americans reach this point of absolute certainty, many tipping points will have passed, and what we will be able to do will be limited—maybe even impossible. Alice (of Wonderland fame) liked to do many impossible things before breakfast; we in the real world won’t have our fantasies to save us. When animals go extinct and our atmosphere heats up, we will be limited by the laws of physics—not by how much fire power we can muster.

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