Tomorrow, Saturday, April 29, in cities and towns across the nation and around the world, people of various colors and religions, ages and genders, social and economic strata, and ideologic and political affiliations will gather together to call for urgent and aggressive action on climate change. While the adverse health effects resulting from climate change are already being felt by people and other life forms around the world, including those of us here in the Ohio Valley, most of the people who attend tomorrow’s rallies will be speaking for those who still have no voice — our children and grandchildren, and their children…

Many speakers will get up and criticize others who, in the face of overwhelming, objectively observable and repeatable scientific evidence, continue to deny these simple realities about climate change: “Experts agree. It’s real. It’s us. It’s bad. There’s hope.” I believe focusing attention on a very small number of contrarians — most of whom share worldviews that are, to put it politely, out of the mainstream of reasoned thinkers — is a big mistake. Giving equal time to debunked “beliefs” is simply a distraction. We must remember that the vast majority of Americans (and other citizens living in the developed world) who actually learned the 5th grade science lessons on the greenhouse effect and carbon cycle and remember their high school science classes teaching them chemistry, physics, and biology — subjects that inform the consensus on global warming and explain how Earth’s climate changes as a result — grasp the reality of climate change. As I’ve said before, understanding the who-what-when-where-and-why about climate change is pretty elementary — it’s not rocket science. (Although, to be fair to rocket scientists, a great deal of what we know is happening to the planet’s climate system comes from the use of highly sophisticated technology created by brainiacs working in academic, government, and private milieus.) Distraction with techniques designed to mislead, using the denier’s playbook of logical fallacies, subjective cherry picking of data, conspiracy theories, and “alternative facts” — all spouted by false experts (people with impressive names or faces who may sound credible but who in fact possess no expertise on the subject) — leads to obstruction and delay of action. On environmental challenges, we’ve seen this movie before with “debates” on the hazards of tobacco smoke (yes, it is bad and always was) and secondhand smoke (bad, also); the ecological harms of acid rain; the biological risks of an expanding hole in the stratosphere’s ozone layer; the threats of synthetic chemicals, industrial and consumer materials, pesticides and insecticides that pollute our shared resources of air, water, and soil. “Rules and regulations protecting the environment and public health will crush the economy,” we are told in each case. In reality, regarding the examples just stated, that happened never. (In fact, every indication suggests that serious action on climate change will provide an enormous economic boost, like what’s being seen with renewable energy.) In the end, credible science wins the day always.

Some people will never accept “yes” for an answer, whether it’s climate or vaccines or politics, no matter how much you try to educate and persuade using evidence-based facts and God-given reason. Climate deniers are not skeptics of science, let’s be clear. Some have reasons — usually monetary but also ideological — for their denial, especially those with economic and political power. Most others don’t have the same incentives to keep on denying; one wonders why they persist when there is really nothing in it for them.

So let’s NOT argue about things that are settled, such as the basic science describing how the oceans and atmosphere are warming and the reasons why the climate system is changing. Let’s recognize that the majority of serious people who consider global warming’s impacts on the climate and on health are not debating the reality of climate change. They are not arguing about whether glaciers and sea ice will melt, whether sea levels will rise, whether storms and floods will become more extreme, whether some humans will be displaced to become “climate refugees” while others starve, get sick, or die. All of those things are happening now. What should be debated — indeed, the reason for tomorrow’s People’s Climate March — is how we are going to respond as individuals, as families, as communities, and as a society to climate change? That’s a question that needs to be answered, and it needs to be answered now. “Nothing” is the answer that should come to mind to no one who is paying attention.

So come out to Oakland in front of the Cathedral of Learning on the campus of the University of Pittsburgh, tomorrow morning from 10:00-noon. Bring your kids and your grandkids (and your parents and grandparents, too)! Show them how peaceful demonstrations in this already great nation work, how we express our appreciation for those who are trying to preserve the world we have as a livable place, and how coming together with one voice is better than standing alone, silent.

Read more about climate change on The PediaBlog here.


(Comic: Google Images)