Monday, January 06, 2020

So You Want to Convince a Climate Change Skeptic? Here are some strategies for a hard conversation

Sometimes the Green/Left satirize themselves.  The whole approach of the NYT below is explicitly: "Lead with values, not facts".  They know that the facts are quite inadequate to convince people so use anything else as a way of persuading people.  But in the end it is the facts that matter

Happy New Year! It’s 2020, and the forecast for this next decade is cloudy with an apprehension of doom. According to the United Nations, the world has only until 2030 to cut carbon dioxide emissions down to roughly half those of 2010 levels to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, the more ambitious target of the Paris Agreement. (The world has already warmed by about 1 degree Celsius since the 19th century.) The outlook, in the words of a United Nations report released in November, is “bleak.”

Daunting as the problem may be, millions of people still don’t accept the premise of its existence: Depending on how you ask, only about half to two-thirds of Americans believe that climate change is caused by humans, according to the University of Pennsylvania’s Annenberg Public Policy Center.

The question: How do you convince someone that climate change is real? Should you even try?

Lead with values, not facts

If you want to convince someone about climate change, don’t lead with data, writes Katharine Hayhoe in The Times. Dr. Hayhoe is a climate scientist at Texas Tech University, and she’s also an evangelical Christian, two identities she realized after moving from Canada were “supposed to be entirely incompatible” in the United States. Understanding why that’s the case is crucial when attempting to convert climate change skeptics, she writes, explaining:

It turns out, it’s not where we go to church (or don’t) that determines our opinion on climate. It’s not even our religious affiliation. Hispanic Catholics are significantly more likely than other Catholics to say the earth is getting warmer, according to a 2015 survey, and they have the same pope. It’s because of the alliance between conservative theology and conservative politics that has been deliberately engineered and fostered over decades of increasingly divisive politics on issues of race, abortion and now climate change, to the point where the best predictor of whether we agree with the science is simply where we fall on the political spectrum.

In her experience, Dr. Hayhoe has found that the best way to neutralize the partisan charge on climate change is not by appealing to science — which some prominent Republicans, such as Senator Ted Cruz, have cast as a competitor to religion — but by emphasizing shared values. “For some, this could be the well-being of our community,” she writes. “For others, our children; and for fellow Christians, it’s often our faith.”

In such conversations, it may be important to remember how your interlocutor’s values differ from your own. In Vice, Maggie Puniewska points to the moral foundations theory, according to which liberals and conservatives prioritize different ethics: the former compassion, fairness and liberty, the latter purity, loyalty and obedience to authority. Ms. Puniewska writes:

If you’re trying to convince someone who leans left, you can stick with the polar bear and keep tugging at their heart strings with talk of how unfair it will be to our children if the world is poisoned, but if you’re with a conservative, it’s wise to change up your approach — science has found that personalized climate-related messages work better.

For example, research has found that conservatives are more likely to support a pro-environmental agenda when presented with messages containing themes of patriotism and defending the purity of nature.

Emphasize the potential benefits

For many skeptics, Neha Thirani Bagri has written in Quartz, delineating the myriad potential harms of unmitigated climate change is not an effective strategy. Instead, it can be more productive to illustrate the potential benefits that mitigation may carry. She writes:

A comprehensive study published in 2015 in Nature surveyed 6,000 people across 24 countries and found that emphasizing the shared benefits of climate change was an effective way of motivating people to take action — even if they initially identified as deniers. For example, people were more likely to take steps to mitigate climate change if they believe that it will produce economic and scientific development. Most importantly, these results were true across political ideology, age, and gender.

The messenger matters

People are more likely to listen to a message when it comes from someone they trust, Alexander Maki has argued in The Washington Post, and messages about climate change are no different. “For example,” he writes, “experimental research discovered that when free-market enthusiasts who are concerned about government regulation hear from experts who emphasize how companies are developing climate responses, they are more likely to accept climate science.”

Who makes for the best messenger depends, naturally, on the intended recipient. A study published in Nature in May, for example, found that when it comes to parents, children may be especially effective persuaders:

Because climate change perceptions in children seem less susceptible to the influence of worldview or political context, it may be possible for them to inspire adults toward higher levels of climate concern, and in turn, collective action. Child-to-parent intergenerational learning — that is, the transfer of knowledge, attitudes or behaviors from children to parents — may be a promising pathway to overcoming socio-ideological barriers to climate concern.

Follow up with evidence

While leading with data and studies can cause people to shut down, Ms. Puniewska writes, talking about the scientific consensus around climate change in general can help, acting as a kind of gateway to greater trust in the conclusions of climate science. (This rhetorical strategy has found a prominent champion in Greta Thunberg, who implores people to “listen to the scientists” first and foremost.) She explains:

In a 2015 study published in PLOS One, Maibach and colleagues found that telling people that experts agreed on climate change increased the chances that those individuals would accept that climate change was happening, was human-caused, and presented a real threat. Extra encouraging: That strategy was also particularly influential on Republicans, though liberals might also need a nudge.

To the extent that a person’s denial of climate change stems from mistrust of science in general, however — 13 percent of Americans have little to no confidence in scientists, according to a 2019 Pew survey — invoking expertise may never bear fruit.

Or is trying to convince climate change deniers a waste of time?

Attempting to convert deniers is not the most productive way to fight climate change, argue Marcus Hedahl and Travis N. Rieder in Georgetown University’s Kennedy Institute of Ethics Journal. In their view, climate change is a problem less of individual belief than of collective action, a failure that can be remedied only through public policy. The most efficient route toward enacting such policy, the authors argue, lies not in convincing deniers to believe in climate change but in galvanizing those who already do. They write:

With a significant majority of voters supporting taxing or regulating greenhouse gases, those who want to spur climate action ought to focus instead on getting a critical mass of climate believers to be appropriately alarmed. Doing so, we contend, may prove more useful in creating the political will necessary to spur bold climate action than would engaging directly with climate deniers.


How Climate Alarmists Spread Myths, Declare Impending Doom

Written by John Stossel

“The world is going to end in 12 years if we don’t address climate change!” says Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

Really? 12 years? John Stossel recently moderated a debate held by The Heartland Institute.

Well, not a debate … because climate alarmists who were invited didn’t show. “Please … let’s have a discussion!” begs astrophysicist Willie Soon. Stossel says the panel convincingly debunked four myths.

One is the new claim: “we only have 12 years to act.” Pat Michaels, former president of the American Association of State Climatologists, says,

“It’s warmed up around one degree Celsius since 1900, and life expectancy DOUBLED … yet [if] that temperature ticks up another half a degree … the entire system crashes? That’s the most absurd belief.”

Climatology Professor David Legates adds, “In twelve years it’ll be 12 more years.” The 3 scientists argue that even if the planet warms by 5 degrees, humans can adjust. We already have. People in Holland did. Holland is a low-lying country.

Much of it is below sea-level. So many years ago, the Dutch built dikes to prevent flooding. Michaels says, “Are you telling me that the people in Miami are so dumb that they’re just going to sit there and drown?” “You acknowledge though the water is rising?” asks Stossel.

Legates interjects, “Yes, the water has been rising for approximately 20,000 years.” Another myth they bust: government action today will save us. “

The Obama’s administration’s model projects that the amount of global warming that would be saved [by the US] going to ZERO emissions tomorrow … would be 14 hundredths of a degree Celsius,” says Michaels.

It wouldn’t stop global warming but: “You’ll sure have an impoverished dark country.” he continues. “Global warming is why hurricanes are getting worse” and the idea that “carbon dioxide is a pollutant that just does harm” are two other myths the scientists debunk.

Stossel concludes by asking, “Are they right? It’s hard to believe they are when so many serious people are so worried. I wish there were a real debate! Why won’t the other side debate?”


Biden Obliviously Tells Press that Fossil Fuel Execs Should Be Jailed

The hate never stops on the Left

Former vice president and presidential candidate Joe Biden told a crowd in Peterborough, New Hampshire over the weekend that if fossil fuel executives don't take accountability for helping to doom the environment, we should throw them in jail.

In order to curb the rate of pollution, Biden explained, we need to hold fossil fuel executives "liable for what they have done, particularly in those cases where there are underserved neighborhoods."  When they don't deliver, Biden offered, "put them in jail."

Some spectators noted his obliviousness. Surely he didn't forget that his son Hunter was on the board of Burisma Holdings, a Ukrainian gas company that was being investigated for corruption? I mean, it has been in the news lately.

"Does that include Hunter?" more than one social media user asked the former VP after his little speech.

Hunter's work on Burisma reportedly prompted President Trump to ask Ukrainian President Zelenskyy to "look into" the Bidens' relationship to Ukraine and to help root out corruption.


2019: the year of peak green bullsh*t

Greta, Prince Harry and Extinction Rebellion took the eco-cult to new heights of madness.

Ben Pile

2019 was the most extraordinary year of green bullshit yet. Despite the planet being a wealthier, healthier and safer place than it was when fears of global warming first appeared on the political agenda in the 1980s – and despite the failure of more than half a century of green prognostications – crazy and destructive green ideas still dominate politics.

Royal hypocrisy

In 2019, green doublespeak went mainstream. Harry and Meghan had intended to ‘eco-signal’ by warning us about climate change. At the same time, they were hopping on private jets to stay in luxury villas. Despite attempts by some celebrities to defend the royal couple from criticism, newspapers across the world pointed out that actions speak louder than words. What Harry and Meghan’s royal hypocrisy showed was that elite environmentalism is less about saving the planet than about telling people how to live and to know their place.

Greta and the school strikes

The only truly new thing that has emerged over the past year or so has been the phenomenon of Greta Thunberg and her school-strike movement. For years, the ‘green blob’ network of campaigning organisations, corporations, academics and UN agencies has fantasised about mobilising the young as a political force. After pumping billions of children full of green propaganda, a climate avatar has arrived in the form of the Swedish truant-cum-activist. There could be no doubting the sincerity of the teen who bore the emotional scars inflicted on her by the movement that she was to lead – she had been so traumatised by green propaganda that she had not spoken, not eaten and had refused to go to school. Environmentalism is nothing if not a cult of self-harm.

Political, cultural and religious leaders fell over themselves to be seen being scolded by the child. Unlike Harry and Meghan, Greta refused to fly. Instead of private jets, European royalty, millionaires and superstars loaned her their sailing yachts and Teslas. To keep her own personal carbon footprint down, sailing crews and her entourage had to fly across the Atlantic.

Politicians and campaigning organisations may have found it useful to hide their political ambitions behind children. But to many people, the emotional manipulation of impressionable minds is unconscionable. It has now emerged that the false stories that many of the children have fallen victim to – such as the claims that charismatic creatures like walruses and polar bears face extinction or that the world’s rainforests face imminent collapse – are distressing young children and causing real harm.

The school strikes may continue next year but, at some point, parents will start to demand that organisations which have promulgated the lies that are damaging their children are held to account.

Extinction Rebellion

Extinction Rebellion (XR) is perhaps the living embodiment of green bullshit. It is hard to add much to the volumes of criticism of XR that already exists: it is a movement of bizarre, narcissistic, anti-democratic, upper-middle-class, regressive zealots. XR has no better grasp of the world than their child co-protesters.

Despite XR’s obvious contempt for the wider public, commentators argued earlier in the year that XR, combined with the schools strike, was having a positive impact on public opinion. The protests were seemingly intended to draw the masses into the fold. But by obstructing ordinary people from their daily lives, the protests quickly alienated people, leading in one famous case in Canning Town to people taking matters – and the protesters – into their own hands. Agitated commuters dragged protesters off the roof of the train they were holding up. Despite favourable media coverage, XR was emphatically rejected by the public. The year ended in ignominy when XR founder member, Roger Hallam, insulted Holocaust victims in a German newspaper.

Net Zero and the UN climate meetings

The most useless parliament in British history asked itself this year whether the goal of reducing CO2 emissions by 80 per cent by 2050 went far enough. The figure should be 100 per cent, said MPs, who then instructed the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) to investigate the possibility of ‘Net Zero’ emissions. It could be done, said the CCC, for the bargain price of £50.8 billion in 2050. But there are 30 years between now and then, and it is during that time that gas boilers and petrol- and diesel-powered vehicles (among many other things) will be banned and will need to be replaced.

I asked the CCC in a freedom-of-information request how much these policies would cost between now and then. The answer is that the CCC does not know – it was only asked to calculate how much Net Zero would cost in 2050 – in the year it had already been achieved, not how much it would cost to achieve. Nonetheless, MPs didn’t even need to vote on making Net Zero the law – the statutory instrument that will consign much of the UK to ecological austerity was passed with barely any scrutiny.

The Net Zero policy was partly engineered to support the UK government’s bid to host the 2020 UN climate talks. Unfortunately, climate meetings have a habit of embarrassing their host nations. Shortly after the 2017 meeting in Bonn, it emerged that Germany – famed for its radical green policies – was unlikely to meet its own climate commitments. Likewise, France, the host of the celebrated 2015 Paris Agreement, has been wracked by conflict on the streets for over a year since it attempted to introduce green taxes on fuel. This year’s meeting was due to be held in Chile, but the events were cancelled because of civil unrest – sparked, as in France, in part by rising fuel prices. The event was moved to Madrid, but – like almost all of the meetings before it – fizzled into nothing.

Green bullshit is the lifeblood of our remote, intransigent and useless political elites. And 2019 provided an unusual glut of it, marked by the reinvention of climate change as the ‘climate emergency’. But the volume of green bullshit also opened people’s eyes to the facts. Green hypocrites, green zealots and groundless, science-free green political posturing are now mainstream objects of ridicule. Environmental alarmism is now understood to have damaged young people’s sense of the future. Politicians, of course, will be the last to understand any of this. And for that reason, another year of peak green bullshit is probably ahead of us.


Australia: Big fires follow move away from preventive burning

“It’s all about fuel, not climate.”

Christine Finlay has been sounding the alarm on bushfires in Australia for more than a decade after tracking the relationship ­between reduced cool burning and the frequency of firestorms. And the Queensland-based fire ­researcher, who charted a century of archival bushfire records for her PhD, has long been screaming danger.

Finlay’s thesis examined problem bushfires between 1881 and 1981. What she found after plotting the historical data on a graph was that there was a marked increase in the size and frequency of fires after 1919. This was when bushfire-reduction operations increasingly moved away from traditional indigenous practices such as low-­intensity cool burning.

Finlay says this ­detailed correlation between the accumulation of catastrophic fuel loads and the frequency of extreme bushfires made it possible to forecast the dramatic increase in firestorms we have seen in the 21st century.

“For years, I energetically sent this predictive model to government agencies, in particular bushfire services, the media, coronial and parliamentary inquiries and so on,” she says. “Horribly ­ignored, it proved horribly accurate.”

Finlay has the support of forester Vic Jurskis, who has written a book on fire stick ecology and how indigenous Australians managed the landscape with fire.

In an open letter to the Prime Minister, premiers, chief ministers and opposition leaders in November, Jurskis said this season’s ­bushfire situation was neither ­unprecedented nor unexpected.

“This latest holocaust is a direct consequence of unprecedented accumulation of 3D continuous fuels as a result of green influence on politics,” Jurskis says. “It’s all about fuel, not climate.”

Half a century ago, Athol Hodgson, who later became chief fire officer of Victoria, explained the simple physics: doubling the available fuel usually doubles the rate of spread of the fire and ­increases its intensity fourfold.

Jurskis says control burning over large areas cheaply and effectively reduces the incidence of high-intensity wildfires and minimises damage.

When this year’s fire season ­finally ends, Finlay’s research and Jurskis’s theories no doubt will be offered to a federal government review already proposed by Scott Morrison. All sides will have a big stake in any investigation: fire command, volunteer services, state government agencies and anyone who lives near the bush.

Green groups are ready to battle demands that national parks be opened up to logging to reduce fuel loads. Politically, the Greens insist their environment policies adopted in November 2017 do not prohibit cool burns.

Their policy puts climate change front and centre but says “scientifically based, ecologically appropriate use of fire is an ­important means to protect bio­diversity and manage habitat ­effectively”. The policy calls for “an effective and sustainable strategy for fuel-reduction management that will protect biodiversity and moderate the effects of wildfire for the protection of people and assets, developed in consultation with experts, custodians and land managers”.

Linking bushfires to climate change scientifically is still contentious given the long history of fires in Australia. But for the Greens and climate groups making the link politically is a no-brainer.

It compounds a dilemma for the federal government, which might have hoped that finally it was getting its climate message under control. With the dramatic fires it faces the prospect of a new level of public expectation at a time when the appetite among world leaders for urgency appears to be on the wane.

For Australian Energy Minister Angus Taylor, the Madrid meeting outcome illustrates the disconnect between how climate change is being discussed domestically and what is actually happening on the world stage. Rather than setting tougher targets, political leaders are desperately looking for solutions that can make a difference at manageable cost.

Writing in The Australian this week, Taylor said there are serious limits to pressuring countries into aggressive top-down targets without offering clear pathways to deliver.

“Many countries understandably see that as negative globalism and a gross infringement on their national sovereignty,” he wrote.

“The Paris Agreement is based on bottom-up ‘nationally determined contributions’ and it should stay true to that … The best way to deliver on and strengthen these commitments is through new productive technologies and practices that deliver emission abatement while maintaining or strengthening economic growth.”

Taylor said in most countries it isn’t acceptable to pursue emission-reduction policies that add substantially to the cost of living, destroy jobs, reduce incomes and impede growth. His view is supported by international analysis that says the most daunting headwind facing UN climate talks is ­rising nationalism, populism and economic retrenchment — all at the expense of multilateralism.

AFP says street protests against the rise in cost of living in France, Colombia, Chile, Ecuador, Egypt and more than two dozen other countries last year have given governments already reluctant to ­invest in a low-carbon future ­another reason to baulk.

“These cases highlight how sensitive populations are to change in the price of basic commodities like food, energy and transport,” Stephane Hallegatte, of the World Bank, noted.

The formal withdrawal of the US from the Paris Agreement from November and the reluctance of the world’s major emitters, China and India, to bolster action completes a bleak picture.

According to climate scientist Judith Curry, the political divide remains between developed and developing countries, but particularly between the West and China/India, and has not changed since Copenhagen and Paris.

Curry argues we have not only oversimplified the problem of climate change but we have also oversimplified its “solution”. “Even if you accept the climate model projections and that warming is dangerous, there is disagreement among experts regarding whether a rapid acceleration away from fossil fuels is the appropriate policy response,” Curry says.

“In any event, rapidly reducing emissions from fossil fuels to ameliorate the adverse impacts of ­extreme weather events in the near term increasingly looks like magical thinking.”

Australia routinely is held up by lobby groups as an obstacle to progress at international climate talks. But Taylor wrote this week that debate in Madrid was not about Australia’s performance.

Unlike many other countries, Australia says it is on target to meet its obligations under both the Kyoto second round and 2030 Paris Agreement.

The most recent estimates ­released by the federal Environment Department last month are that Australia will overachieve on both its 2020 and 2030 targets.

The federal opposition, Greens and climate groups criticise the Morrison government for lacking ambition and counting the excess savings from the Kyoto round in the Paris targets.

But Taylor says there is less carbon dioxide in the atmosphere ­because of the work Australian households, farmers and busi­nesses have done under Kyoto, and this should be recognised by the world in assessing and setting future obligations.

“Where we take a different ­approach to other countries is we only ever ratchet our ambition up as we know we can deliver,” Taylor says.

The Energy Minister is unmoved by protest groups like ­Extinction Rebellion, which he says ultimately may become self-destructive.

Curry’s advice is to consider the positives. During the past century, there has been a 99 per cent decline in the death toll from ­natural disasters, during the same period that the global population quadrupled.

While global economic losses from weather and climate disasters have been increasing, this is caused by increasing population and property in vulnerable locations. Global losses because of weather events as a proportion of global GDP have declined about 30 per cent since 1990. The proportion of the world population living in extreme poverty declined from 36 per cent in 1990 to 10 per cent in 2015.



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1 comment:

Chaamjamal said...

Maybe this will convince the climate change skeptics