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Is it hot in here, or is it me?

johnnyopinionsWell, it’s official — Donald Trump was elected President of the United States of America. Among his more controversial beliefs is the one that global warming is, as he tweeted, a hoax “created by and for the Chinese.” Future President Trump is not alone in his denial though — in fact, most Republicans share his view. Climate change skeptics often give themselves a bad name. Be they Trump with his tweets or Senator James Inhofe throwing snowballs at the congress floor, it sometimes seems as though the only people who continue to deny climate change are either ignorant or severely misinformed. However, with entire political parties filled with intelligent, informed people refuting climate change claims, there must be some other explanation.

Global Climate Scam is an organization whose goal is “exposing the truth about global warming hysteria.” The group believes that the government has far too little proof to justify the immense amounts of money that any major environmental policies and regulations would cost. The climate change scam, argues the group, is that the largest proponents for fighting climate change profit greatly from their environmentally focused platforms, despite the fact that the science is not always clear and the world has recently seen record ice, snow and cold.

This planet is very large and difficult to understand, which means that scientists sometimes make mistakes. The common argument used to advocate for policies regarding climate change is that there is a general scientific consensus that climate change is both a problem and caused by humans, but it hasn’t always been that way. In the early 1970s, scientists had a consensus of a radically different sort. This consensus, believe it or not, was that the world was undergoing global cooling. According to The Earth Observatory, an organization under NASA, the Earth had actually been cooling from around 1945 until the early 1970s — to the point where there was some slight panic about the possibility of an oncoming ice age. Milutin Milanković, a Serbian mathematician, discovered that the Earth experiences an ice age approximately every 100,000 years, and he believed the global cooling he had observed was indicating the imminence of the next ice age. Now, however, scientists believe the Earth is going to continue warming into oblivion. The fact that the modern scientific community was so wrong about the future of the climate just a few decades ago seems to weaken the credibility of the current global warming claims.

Moreover, many people who are still alive today remember a time when pollution was far worse. In 1948, the atmosphere of Donora, Pennsylvania, was so full of smog that it killed 20 people and sickened 6,000 more. Since then, regulations have been put into place and enough progress has been made that the air is once again relatively clean and healthy. Herein lies a problem that prevents many from accepting the idea that climate change is a problem — if people have seen pollution decrease over time with their own eyes, how could they believe that pollution is actually increasing?

The same kind of scientific thinking that can convince a person that climate change is real can also provide facts to the contrary. If one wishes to persuade a skeptic about any subject, one must first understand the position from which the other comes. Once some level of empathy has been established, one will be able to approach the skeptic from an angle that will bridge the gap between the two ideologies and bring both parties closer to a compromise. Thus, if we are to attempt to convince climate change deniers of the importance of sustainability and going green, we must first understand the position from which the skeptics come. While it may not always be fun to research a viewpoint completely contrary to what one believes, it is essential if the world is to ever work together and ensure prosperity for generations to come.

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