Still don’t believe in climate change?

Hurricane SandyHurricane Sandy is just one example of those massive storms likely caused as a result of climate change. (Credit: Wikimedia Commons/NASA)
Hurricane Sandy is just one example of those massive storms likely caused as a result of climate change. (Credit: Wikimedia Commons/NASA)

Hurricane Sandy is just one example of those massive storms likely caused as a result of climate change. (Credit: Wikimedia Commons/NASA)

One would think that with all the intensifying storms continually happening throughout the world, there would be a larger growing movement to take action and help with climate change. Even though the climate change is not a slow process, convincing people of it is, especially in the United States. Close to 99% of the scientists believe in the significance of global warming. Unfortunately, the overwhelming scientific support and evidence is still not convincing enough for the skeptics. What will it take?

Thinking about this dilemma, I started thinking about the One Percent Doctrine, also known as the Cheney Doctrine, in terms of response. Dick Cheney said after 9/11 that if there is even a one percent chance of something happening, why risk devastating results? This approach should be taken with climate change. Why risk it no matter where you happen to be on the spectrum of believing in climate change? I believe that most people aren’t totally black and white on this issue. Most people believe that the climate is changing, but there is a fairly sizable amount who still question whether human activity is involved in it. Regardless of how we feel about climate change, why risk rising sea levels, intensifying devastating storms, animal extinctions, and huge crop failures? For people who oppose this idea, it’s like saying why have health, home, or auto insurance if there’s only a chance something might happen?

George Marshall, founder of the Climate Outreach Information Network, wrote a book “Don’t Even Think It: Why Our Brains are Wired to Ignore Climate Change”. In the book, Marshall discusses strategies on how to talk about climate change to friends, colleagues and neighbors who are non- believers. He says to talk about outcomes that touch close to home and not necessarily the scientific data. For instance, you can discuss the link between illness and climate change. There are now disease carrying mosquitos travelling away from the tropics bringing malaria and other diseases further north. This might worry people enough to take action. People might not be concerned enough about the polar bears possible extinction, but they care about getting sick. This is unfortunate, but true in many cases.

There is also the argument that the Pentagon is worried. Many people have respect for what the Pentagon is doing, so that information might work in getting attention. The Pentagon has a plan for if and when places like Bangladesh and the Pacific Islands submerge, as there will be a huge migration and need for resources. There is such a scenario in place already. Scary enough?

Being in Stevens, a highly respected scientific and technological school, I know there will be many of us here who will contribute in some way to solving this problem. It might be in the form of alternative energy sources or hydrogen powered cars. There are so many avenues and areas in which we can help make a change. I am personally inspired by the students and professors I am surrounded by here at Stevens, and it makes me more confident of the future.