One of the biggest mistakes we make when discussing climate change is calling it a “debate,” because there is no debate – it’s real and human activity on the planet is the leading cause of it. When the overwhelming majority of the world’s scientists – anywhere between 97-99 percent – all agree that human activity is causing climate change, the opinions of those who choose to deny that evidence really don’t matter.
Unfortunately, the main reasons why there are so many people who deny that humans are causing climate change are:
- The issue has become political, meaning that many people shut off their brains and simply regurgitate talking points based on whatever their political party is telling them to believe, regardless of facts.
In this country, the Republican party is heavily backed by big oil and other various energy companies. It’s an industry that stands to lose untold billions if humans were to ever embrace green energy, moving away from fossil fuels. Naturally, this has sparked a huge push by many within these industries to spend billions on fake information hoping to build doubt on scientific data pertaining to climate change much in the same way big tobacco did decades ago over the health risks of smoking.
Religion is another issue that many use as a reason to deny climate change. I’ve met quite a few people who deny climate change is real because they believe God controls the weather. There’s really no reasoning with these people or changing their minds – no matter what sort of factual evidence you provide, they’re going to believe what they believe.
Well, famous astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson had some rather choice words for the media concerning why he thinks there are so many who doubt the very real existence of climate change.
“There’s this journalistic ethos saying if I get one opinion then I need to get another opinion that countervails that,” Tyson said. “So if I say the world is round, are you obligated to say the world is flat, lest someone think you are being biased in your reporting? Well, that’s absurd.”
“If you allocated column inches in proportion to the scientific consensus of experiments, there would be one sentence talking about people who deny climate change and the rest of the ten columns talking about research that supports it,” he said. “But that’s not what we see in the public.”
And he’s absolutely right. Anytime you see climate change “debated,” it’s almost always an equal number of people on both sides debating the issue. This, of course, projects the idea that both sides are equally represented.
To accurately “debate” this issue based on the actual representation of scientists who believe in climate change vs. those who don’t, we would need to gather 100 scientists together, with 97-99 supporting human-caused climate change and 1-3 scientists on the other side arguing against it. And I can promise you, if that’s how these “debates” were being framed, those denying climate change would come off like quacks (as they should) as opposed to seeming like people with legitimate opinions, which is how they’re often presented by our media.
Thankfully we have people like Tyson and Bill Nye using their fame to help raise awareness of this very real problem, because if we don’t do something to try to reverse the damage we’re doing to our planet soon, it’s gong to be too late.