by Marilyn Krislock Pomeroy
‘Pray for Florida’ pops up on my Facebook page repeatedly the last couple of days. While I wish all the good folks in the path of that hurricane safe passage through it, I’m not much into praying. If I was so inclined, however, I would instead be praying for a neighbouring leader who is not a climate change denier.
Climate scientists agree that these recent hurricanes are an example of the powerful and extreme weather events being fueled by climate change. While climate change is not necessarily the cause of these events, it is what exacerbates and sustains them. But, as overheard recently, ‘What do they know?’ So, for all you deniers out there, I have some questions.
When you go to your doctor, do you deny her expertise and completely ignore her advice? Do you believe she is only trying to line her own pockets, making money from your malady or misfortune and doesn’t have the required expertise to diagnose and treat you?
When you take your car in for a tune up, do you tell the expert mechanic he doesn’t have a clue about anything, all he does is find more problems, and your car has always made that noise and always will? He really needn’t worry about that noise; it’s just part of your car’s natural cycle of ups and downs.
When you meet with your children’s hard-working teachers, do you tell them they don’t know what they’re talking about – your child doesn’t need to learn math or how to spell, anyway, and they certainly do not need to learn about climate change? Clearly, teachers are just in it for the big money, scamming all of us good folks along the way.
Presumably there will be a few people who will respond, ‘Heck yes, that’s exactly what I think’. If you are one of them, I hope you keep reading.
I believe that most of us respect expertise shared with us by those who are trained in any field. These people are experts in their field, and we listen to them for that reason. When my butcher tells me it is vital to cook chicken to a specific degree so that I do not poison my family, I listen. I don’t pretend that salmonella is some butcher horror story he tells me for his own benefit. And yet, there are still people who deny that climate scientists, experts in their field, are telling the truth about climate change. Here’s the thing – your denial does not change the fact that it is real and it is fearsome.
‘Oh yes, they’re always predicting some gloom and doom or other. A few years ago they were talking about the next ice age. Now the climate is warming…blah blah blah’. I see so many versions of this online and hear it out and about, and it makes me even more determined to try to convince these people they must do some research before dismissing science. Read a paper or talk to an actual scientist – they are very approachable – and ask all your questions and see if you can gain a better understanding of the facts.
For all of you who believe climate scientists spread their gloomy predictions because they make money from doing so, here’s something for you. I happen to know a few climate scientists and, just for the record, their pockets remain woefully unlined by the funding they receive for research. That money pays for equipment and staff who work tirelessly to conduct research and bring us facts. Facts – that’s what science gives us, and when scientists from around the globe agree – and they do – that climate change is causing havoc and will continue to do so, we would do well to listen.
While the hurricanes rage and give us a taste of the frequent and extreme weather events we can expect with climate change, our neighbours to the south must surely be shaking their heads at their leader’s vow to re-open coal mines. Moving backwards will always, and only, take you to the past. Right now, it is more important than ever to be firmly focused on the future. Our climate scientists can lead the way, if we let them.
All the climate change denial in the world will not make it vanish. Principled scientists agree that climate change is real, it is now, and we need to move quickly if we are to take steps to lessen its impact. Scientists who refute climate change perhaps deserve some scrutiny of their funding arrangements.
Just as the tobacco industry once threw up a virtual smoke screen of misleading information and statements, for example, publicly promising to fund research while privately funding only research not focused on the link between smoking and cancer, the fossil fuel industries play their own version of this game. And if researchers are paid by industry, we would be wise to be skeptical of their impartiality. I believe we should always be somewhat skeptical of industry-funded science. So, ask questions and do your own research.
Climate science is a tricky field to be in these days. The climate models of the past are no longer reliable predictors of the future. We need these scientists, all over the world, to continue their research. They’re smart – expert even – and it’s just possible they may be able to help. Climate change is indeed upon us. Much like the proverbial elephant in your living room, denying its existence will not make it go away.