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Op/ed Friday: How climate change scientists are undermining efforts to slow global warming

posted by Joshua on May 5, 2017 in Education, Leadership, Nature
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I wrote how much my visit to Columbia’s Department of Earth and Environmental Studies left me. The scientists, who know more about global warming than anyone, 1) didn’t seem to change their polluting behavior and 2) to the extent they tried to influence others, did so ineffectively, or even counterproductively.

They shared information, expecting that people would change their behavior for learning the information. Not only did the information not influence their own behavior, facts rarely change behavior, especially away from comfort and convenience, as evidenced by the global obesity rates in the face of our knowing more about nutrition and diseases of excess than ever.

Or, as Marshall Goldsmith puts it

In life our problem isn’t understanding, it’s doing. I think most people understand what we want to do, we just don’t do it.

They also lobbied for laws forcing people to behave how they wanted, without popular support for those laws—that is, through authoritarian means. However right they considered themselves, people resist authoritarian measures and try to undermine them, as evidenced by widespread antagonism toward action on global warming.

How nature shows undermine efforts to curb global warming

We’ve all seen nature shows. We’ve all heard their messages of how we’re damaging the environment and that we have to change and protect.

They always show scenes of the beauty of nature, and often the ravages we commit. Here are some examples—glaciers, polar bears, rain forests, the Great Barrier Reef, etc. Also Leonardo Di Caprio in India and talking to Elon Musk, from his movie Before The Flood.

The problem with nature shows and global warming

I think it’s fair for someone who cares about not polluting but doesn’t know the science to model their behavior on the scientists or Di Caprios in the nature shows—that is, to think:

Global warming seems serious. I should do something about it.

But what?

Well, the scientists on the show know more than I do. I should do what they do.

What do they do?

Well, they fly to the most exotic and beautiful places in the world, take helicopter rides once there, and enjoy the beauty of nature. I guess I should travel around the world and take helicopter rides once there.

I can’t find fault with this conclusion, based on the scientists’ behavior.

If you want others to act with integrity, you do too. If you want people to think about how their actions affect others, you have to too.

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