“Climate Change is a hoax!” Ecologists of all types have certainly heard this claim more than once. Too many times, some of you may be saying. The assertion surfaced in the last presidential campaign, when Republican candidate, Rick Santorum, used the terms “hoax” and “bogus” to characterize global warming and climate change.
Santorum was following in the footsteps of Senator James Inhofe (R-OK), who was the first to popularize the assertion. Inhofe even finds biblical support for the hoax claim (Inhofe: God Says Global Warming is a Hoax).
More about Santorum, Inhofe, and the bible another time. For now, however, we can note that Senator Inhofe is hardly alone. Climate change denial is widespread in certain segments of our political culture, and the claim crops up rather frequently in popular media.
As a result, it is fairly common for folks working to restore sustainable ecologies to encounter assertive individuals when the subject of climate change comes up.
Those who follow the Santorum-Inhofe line are not timid persons. Popularly known as “Deniers,” they are often spoiling for a fight. Like their political champions, they like to mix it up on topics they know little about. All too often, however, folks who care about harmony across the three ecologies are not knowledgeable enough to respond to these assertive antagonists.
As a discernable socio-political community, Deniers have been with us for some time now. They are most closely associated with climate change, but they also often deny other rather well-established realities, including evolution and where the President was born. With climate change, per se, Deniers are persons and groups that reject the scientific consensus that climate change is accelerating, is human-caused, and has dire consequences for life as we know it on earth.
Assertive Deniers typically get their guidance from talk-radio and cyber sources. In most cases the best counsel is to walk away from Assertive Deniers. But what about folks who have gotten a good dose of Denier rhetoric, and are interested in a more level-headed discussion? Again, too often, folks in the sustainability community lack references and resources to present clear and healthy corrections to Deniers’ claims.
This lack has now been remedied, at least in part, by a fine infographic created by Chris Kirk and James West of Slate. Their article, which is really an annotated flow-chart, is titled “How to Win Any Climate Change Argument.”
Hopefully, you won’t have too many arguments about climate change (the tide is turning) in the coming months. But if you do, this handy chart should serve you well. More importantly, if you become familiar with the topics noted by Kirk and West, you’ll be well prepared for constructive dialogue with persons who have heard the Denier narrative and are interested in a serious discussion.