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SCOT BELLAVIA: Climate Change My Mind

Can we collectively confess that we are each only politically informed on the subject of climate change?

I know I can’t name scary statistics or frightening forecasts like Greta Thunberg. I don’t begin to understand worrisome weather patterns. The first-year Earth Science major would certainly best me if it came to explaining the ominous ozone.

And from all I’ve heard, the same is true of people who challenge climate change. They’ll say our planet has always been in a state of flux and question the narrative behind calling it “climate change” instead of “global warming.” But these refutations miss the point since the other side argues the nitty gritty of the earth’s grit and grime.

Over there, believers in the earth’s eccentricities regurgitate numbers from Miss Thunberg. They have solutions and can calculate anyone’s carbon footprint with mental math. They were not more astute in AP Biology; they just pay attention to the news sources “climate deniers” aren’t watching.

In college, I heard from a denier and came away with the idea that the man’s rejection was simply a way to shirk personal responsibility. His statements seemed a spiteful excuse to justify tossing his glass bottles in the trash can when it’d be just as easy to toss them in the recycling bin. I wondered, “Even if humans aren’t melting the ice caps, it doesn’t hurt to reduce, reuse, and recycle, so why not?”

But I could be wrong. They say the gasoline spent by recycling trucks exceeds the good recycling does for the planet. (Much less the mining and disposal requirements for “green” electric car batteries …) Still, the questions I had for the man in college is what I try to ask when I’m considering two sides of most topics: What are the implications of being wrong and why is it so important to be right?

Of course, if being right is to concur with the truth, then that solves the question. But for the many conversations in which we ought to ask ourselves the above, the truth is simply not fully knowable at this time—though there surely is one. And in other situations, like climate change, there may only be values not absolute truth.

To answer “What if I’m wrong?” and “Why should I be right?” reveals the priorities we’ve placed on the things we believe. Once that spars with another’s priorities, we can adjust or cement those values into an optimal position in our mind. Thereby we ascertain a greater truth in the conversation, not atmospheric anticipations but understanding someone’s beliefs.

– Scot Bellavia

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