The end of the year is nigh and it’s a time for Christmas and New Year parties and gatherings. In the southern hemisphere that means barbecues and beaches. In the northern hemisphere it’s mulled wine and cosy fireplaces.
But for all of us, it probably means we’ll be subjected to at least one ranting, fact-free sermon by a Typical Climate Change Denier (TCCD).
You know the drill. Make an offhand remark about unusual weather, and five seconds later someone’s mouthing off about how the internet says that climate change is a bunch of rubbish.
So, when you’ve been cornered by your TCCD, what do you do?
As many have said before, disagreements like this aren’t resolved by barrages of facts and figures.
But that doesn’t mean you just have to walk away.
Instead of providing you with yet another series of climate facts and figures (there are plenty of excellent examples of these already) we’ve listed 12 tips, strategies and tactics for you to try out when you next feel inclined to engage a TCCD head on.
Good luck! And remember – it’s a party, so you know, have fun with it.
1. Pick your audience
Most TCCDs will not change their mind. It’s cheaper – intellectually and socially – for them to stand their ground than it is to change their views. Actually, your arguing may even reinforce their beliefs.
Many TCCD’s will have a head in the sand approach.
But remember – you might convince their friends listening in.
2. Find some common ground
Just because your TCCD thinks they know better than pretty much all of science, doesn’t mean they’re a bad person. They value things and are probably well-intentioned at heart.
So try finding out what they care about: democracy or economics, knitting or veggie gardening. You may even have some shared interests. You’ll never get them to change their values, but you might be able to talk about climate change in terms of things they care about.
3. Certainty isn’t the issue
Your TCCD may say we don’t understand the climate change with 100% certainty, so we shouldn’t do anything. They’re right about the first point, but utterly wrong about the second.
Climate science isn’t 100% certain, but neither is medicine, the law, child-rearing or pretty much anything else. We make decisions without certainty every day.
Complete certainty is pretty much never required for action.
4. Talk in terms of risk and inaction
Ask them this: “What’s worse, the majority of climate change scientists being wrong but we act anyway, or climate change deniers being wrong and we don’t?”
Challenge them to be specific, to go beyond vague assertions of terribleness or repeating empty tabloid slogans.