~ 6 minutes read
Conversations around climate change are filled with emotion, especially when we struggle to understand exactly why people disagree with us.
Below, we present a range of ideas about the urgency of climate change and potential solutions. Each position is informed by sentiments in the top 100 most retweeted tweets mentioning “climate” or “global warming” over the past year.
These are not the only positions on climate change — and your view may differ. We aren’t trying to change your mind, just help you understand why others might see this issue so differently.
If a crisis is imminent, then it makes sense to advocate for comprehensive changes to address the upcoming crisis, even when they might temporarily hurt the economy. If we don’t, there won’t be an economy to save.
Meanwhile the people in power call themselves “climate leaders” as they open up new oilfields, pipelines and coal power plants – granting new oil licenses exploring future oil drilling sites. This is the world they are leaving for us. https://t.co/4hQ8nm11Fd— Greta Thunberg (@GretaThunberg) July 3, 2021
If companies are the main culprit of climate change, then it makes sense to regulate and financially penalize companies who are responsible for creating this crisis.
NYC sending a text to residents to turn down the AC while leaving Times Square lit up is a great example of how the “individual responsibility to stop climate change” has been pushed to redirect our focus away from the corporations & failed government policy causing the most harm— Savvy ☭ (@sleepisocialist) July 1, 2021
If we have time to solve the climate crisis, then it makes sense to act judiciously, not radically, when working to address climate change because for every bad policy we try, there’s a better one we didn’t.
OK, Twitter, look – it’s time to have a talk. I’ve been seeing a lot of climate despair on here lately, and I understand it’s cathartic to voice your deepest fears, but at this point in time, that despair is also a self-fulfilling prophecy. I work for an environmental charity- 1/— Jessica Law (@JessicaTheLaw) August 9, 2021
If climate change is not primarily caused by human activity, then it makes sense to be cautious about climate policies that could hurt the economy because there’s a decent chance they do nothing to solve the climate crisis and harm people in the process.
Glacier National Park had signs up warning that the glaciers would be gone by 2020. Ya know, climate change. They’re gone now… the signs. Not the glaciers.— Robert J. O’Neill (@mchooyah) February 4, 2022
If climate anxiety makes us more susceptible to accepting authoritarianism, then it makes sense to be skeptical about radical climate change policies because they intrude on our fundamental rights.
Retweet if you are more worried about global tyranny than global warming.— PeterSweden (@PeterSweden7) January 1, 2022
When we discuss climate change, we tend to tell others to “look at the facts.” But in the age of the internet, you can find “proof” for any position we listed above. So how do we move forward, knowing that looking at the facts is insufficient for developing an informed opinion on climate change?
First, we need to be aware of how our brains process information. The first information we hear on any topic tends to stick in our brains for a long time, especially when that information makes us feel strong emotions. Even when we come across new evidence that we think carries weight we hold onto our old beliefs. This means that with longstanding issues such as climate change, our conscious opinions are entangled in information we subconsciously use to inform our worldview.
Being aware of these processes means paying attention to our internal monologue when learning about climate change. Pay attention to how you react to information about who’s to blame, timelines of destruction, proposed solutions, etc. — especially when that reaction involves automatically dismissing (or believing) something because it feels right or wrong. Often, if we take an extra couple of seconds to ask ourselves why it feels true or false, we discover our assumptions aren’t as obviously true as we thought. We can then proceed with a better understanding of our subconscious instincts and make conscious decisions about what we believe.
Finally, it’s important to remember that we won’t benefit from this process without a healthy amount of intellectual humility. The question of what climate change looks like, and the corresponding question of what to do about it, are not simple. The only thing we know for sure is that no individual has the full story — and that includes you. This necessarily means that at least some of how each of us thinks about climate change is misinformed. And that’s okay — it just means we have more to learn and can benefit from remaining open to the idea that we might be wrong.
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