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Why Global Warming Might Not Matter: A Word for Ideologues

Just to get it out there, I don’t really care about Global Warming and, regardless of how you feel about it, that shouldn’t bother you one bit.

To be fair, I would care more if I knew what I should believe. (And I would know what I should believe if I cared more.) I’m reminded of the 1970’s scare–ill-founded as it may have been–about Global Cooling and the onset of another Ice Age. But I also know that the East Coast ski seasons are getting worse and worse. And a mathematician I was talking to said that the statistical models don’t actually support the popular claims and he directed me to a website which I looked at for a couple minutes until I remembered that I didn’t care. Nope, you’ll never hear me seriously talking about Global Warming.

What I do care about is the environment. I do recycle and I try to reduce and reuse as well. I prefer energy-saving bulbs and try to turn off lights when we aren’t in a room. I don’t fertilize my lawn because I live in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed and we’re concerned about runoff. Could I do more? Of course I could. After all, I was the president of our environmental awareness club when I was in college. So I know we could all do more.

My real problem is with the Global Warming proponents–at least with the ideologues. An ideologue is someone who is a zealous advocate for a particular idea. When you look at the way things play out, though, ideologues often care more about what I believe than they do about what I’m willing to do.

Pollution in Nantong, CHINA.

Forget about Global Warming! We can all agree that pollution is bad. So let’s reduce pollution and plant some trees. Guess what? Net carbon emissions are likely to decrease along the way.
Forget about Global Warming! Everyone wants a clean and healthy Chesapeake Bay so we can have crabs and oysters and fish and swimming and boating and picturesque views. Advocate for that and you get healthy oxygen-producing water plants along the way.
Forget Global Warming! Who doesn’t want lower utility bills? It just so happens that switching to compact fluorescents and LEDs also reduces carbon waste from electricity production.

I could go on and on but you probably get my point. Success in this battle is not a victory in the minds of the decision makers. Success is an improvement for the environment. It’s all about framing.

Other advocacies have recognized the framing issue and gained ground. The LGBT community instead of trying to convince everyone that so-called gay marriage is good advocated for partner rights and worked from there. Pro-life advocates have a long way to go to convince people that abortion is murder of an unborn child but were successful in convincing lawmakers that so-called partial birth abortions are inhumane.

Global Warming advocates (and ideologues in general) need to focus on getting people to willingly change their actions. That’s a much easier proposition. If after that it still matters, they can change minds later.