Warning: Argue About Climate Change At Your Own Risk

photo by: Julie
Recently, I had a conversation with a green business colleague, who is absolutely convinced that the recent brouhaha about a so-called global climate-change conspiracy has set back the green movement ten years. His concern is at least one branch of the movement – notably green building – has hitched its wagon to the climate-change star of late, rather than sticking to their more successful message that green buildings save money, attract higher-paying tenants and get media attention.

What to make of this? I’m fascinated by the passion on both sides of this argument – and, in fact, that there IS an argument at all. I happen to accept the science that climate change is real and caused by human activities, particularly the burning of fossil fuels from the earth’s crust (where they were deposited over eons, because they are toxic to life in the biosphere). But I’m not going to argue with someone who disagrees with me. I choose not to lead with climate change, because it is too controversial and turns people off.

I’ve been studying belief change lately. The best way to get someone to harden their position on something is to try and talk them out of it. Think about it. When we believe something, we tend to see evidence of its truth all around us. We also ignore any and all evidence to the contrary – and you can bet there is such evidence. We just don’t see it, because we are too busy noticing the proof. Instead of arguing, the more effective course is to subtly play with people, asking questions to shift their perceptions and awareness. (More on belief change in future articles.)

There’s another reason I abstain from the climate change debate. There’s a universal law that what we focus on, expands. I have long turned away from the “doom-n-gloom” environmental messages. Why put out that anxious, fearful energy? Instead, look at how advantageous it is to adopt a green mindset: it’s smart business to reduce or eliminate waste (which equals money down the drain or up the smokestack); connect to new markets of people who DO care; and get free PR. (More on benefits of green business in future articles.)

Can’t resist passing this along. Since my belief is that climate change is real, I see all around me evidence to support that! For instance, NOAA has a new website covering climate change, which I investigated this morning. It’s full of the latest information, with sections on education, data, and understanding climate.

Also, Jim Hansen, the NASA scientist that has been warning about this for decades, has a new book that I haven’t read yet: “Storms of My Grandchildren” which looks to be a gloves-are-off call to action. (Not for the faint-hearted: the words “last chance” are splashed all over the website.)

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