Is human activity the cause of global climate change?
If your immediate answer to this question was to start drafting an angry letter to the editor about how I’m a moron – please don’t bother.
I don’t care about anything you have to say.
Don’t get me wrong, convincing people to take action on climate change is one of the most important tasks facing us right now. We need to get every major political party in Canada onside. We need coordinated international action. We need plans for a massive energy transition from fossil fuels to clean solar, wind, hydro, and maybe nuclear power.
But does that mean I have a responsibility to debate every single climate change denier out there?
It does not. In fact, it’s one of the biggest wastes of time conceivable.
Consider one of the more recent polls on the issue. Angus Reid found that only one in 10 Canadians firmly believes that climate change is an unproven theory.
Another 20 per cent believe it’s caused by natural causes and not human activity.
So at worst, 30 per cent of Canadians believe that either climate isn’t real, or that we can’t do anything about it.
That’s a fair number of people, but it’s a lot less than the 70 per cent of us who do think it’s real, and think something ought to be done.
(Angus Reid also found that 46 per cent of Canadians believe we may have been visited by aliens. UFOs have a considerably larger constituency than climate change deniers.)
The goal should not be to spend precious hours debating with hard-nosed deniers, steeped in conspiratorial theories about how environmentalists are somehow getting rich off of climate science.
The goal is to get the other 70 per cent of Canadians motivated, talking, informed of the solutions, and voting for change.
As for the 30 per cent?
Well, some of them are doubtless not that hardened in their beliefs. They’ve heard a few things on Facebook, but it’s not a full-on lifestyle choice. Many will come around, especially since the end goal – having clean, cheap power – isn’t actually a hard sell. No one likes smog, either.
Those who are fervent in their beliefs?
You’ll never change their minds. Ever. The old saying about how you can lead a horse to water? You can’t even get these folks to admit it’s water at all, much less go over to take a look.
I guess they’ll just have to put up with cleaner air and water, grumbling all the while.