An interesting theory as to why so many people reject climate change is that they don’t want to take action. Whether they work in the fossil fuel industry or are vehemently opposed to government regulation, they feel that the consequences of taking action will be worse than not taking action.
This is a legitimate opinion, even though I disagree with it. It involves policy (what we should do about the problem) instead of science (deciding if there even is a problem). Stating that we shouldn’t take action at all is, in a way, deciding what action we should take. It’s a personal opinion. You don’t need a PhD for it to be respected.
However, it’s fairly obvious that accepting the problem of climate change but refusing to take any action would make the public very angry. Here in Canada, many environmental advocates aren’t too happy with Stephen Harper (our prime minister) as he’s scrapped yet another emissions legislation plan – the third one, I believe. He’s now decided to not take any action against climate change until the American legislation is completely implemented. If Harper gets his way, it’ll be about 2016 before Canada starts regulating emissions. I’ve never seen David Suzuki so mad.
The aforementioned theory goes on to say that, instead of accepting the problem but refusing action, the regulation-wary people deliberately create confusion around the science supporting the idea of climate change. Their purpose is not to win the debate, but to prolong the debate. The longer they can keep the public wondering if climate change is a problem or not, the longer it will take for action to begin. This goal is mainly achieved by opinion editorials, credible-looking websites, and interviews with the media, all of which contradict as much of the prevailing scientific opinion as possible.
This strategy is not new, or exclusive to climate change. Suspicion has arised that it has been used before when products such as tobacco or CFCs began to be regulated. Some great sources dealing with this theory are this lecture by scientific historian Naomi Oreskes and this documentary by a Canadian televison network (sorry if it’s not available to American viewers). I say “suspicion” because there is no solid way to prove this theory, it is only speculation.
If there is anyone reading this who is using the strategy of confusing the public on the science in effort to delay action, please reconsider your actions. If you’re worried about the potential costs of action against climate change, tell us your worries. We may be able to find a way around them. We’ll work as hard as necessary to avoid excessive regulation and counteract economic harm. The economy is a human-created system; we can manipulate it to fit our needs. The sooner we start working to fix this problem, the easier it will be.
Please don’t try to delay action by debating the science. If you’re open and honest about your worries, we may be able to solve them – no deception, confusion, or aggression necessary.