July 13, 2012

Caring About the Globe… and Why we Don’t

Filed under: Opinion,Writing — Screenhog @ 9:02 am

Last week, CBC radio – Canada’s national radio station – were discussing a question: why don’t people care more about global climate change? Now, there was a lot of discussion back and forth, much of it from people that were genuinely surprised that there even WERE people who don’t care about it.

It doesn’t surprise me at all.

There was a study done once on how people donate to charity. (I promise this will relate to the climate change thing in a moment.) The study did two tests. In the first test, people were given $5 for performing a survey, but after the survey, they were told about how there were a million people in some African nation who were in desperate need of food, water, and medicine. They were then given the chance to donate some of their $5 towards the charity.

In the second test, other people were still given $5 for performing a survey, but after the survey, they were told about a single child in that nation who was in desperate need of food, water, and medicine, with some details were given about that child’s life and family. The second group was also given the chance to donate some of their $5 towards the charity.

The people who donated towards the million people in Africa gave an average of $1.14. The people who donated to the child gave an average of $2.38.1 That’s more than double. Crazy, but true. See, when people see a challenge that they truly can’t do something about on their own, they’re less likely to even try. A million people? I can’t possibly help that many. One person? Sure, I can help!

So, what does this have to do with climate change?

As an average observer, here’s how I’ve seen it. For decades, environmentalists got very good at conveying a very simple message: “Don’t pollute”. This message was very easy to understand, and it was also easy to see the effects. “Look! There’s trash in the stream! That’s pollution, and pollution is ugly! We should clean it up! Yay!”

Then, about six years ago (for me, anyway), the main message changed to “We should all stop burning fossil fuels, because in 100 years it will change the balance of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere of the entire world, causing a difference in global temperature of up to six degrees.” And scientists worldwide are mystified that this hasn’t been received with the same level of acceptance. Wow.

If climate change had a PR department, they would have been fired by now. You can’t care enough about climate change when it’s on a global, intangible level! The only way you can care is when it hits close to home in some way… and this year, it seems that it finally is. 2012 (at least on the East Coast of North America) has been shattering a lot more heat records than normal. Apparently this is changing quite a few minds on the issue.

I know it’s been changing mine. I’ve been on the fence about it since I’d first heard about it. Oh sure, I wasn’t going to argue with the temperatures that scientists were recording; in an argument with a thermometer about how hot it is, I’ll always lose. But I was caught up in the whole question of whether people caused it. If this was just a natural earth cycle thing, why mess it up?

But now? I don’t know if it matters whether or not humans caused it. We’re going to have to adapt to it. We’re going to have to do something about it.

(If there are any climate change PR people, and they happen to be reading this, wondering how to “convert” the people that are still ignoring it… start associating climate change with pollution. After all, if climate change is man-made, it is pollution, right? And there isn’t a politician in the world that will come out in favour of directly polluting the environment.)

Footnotes:

  1. Source: “Made To Stick”, written by Chip and Dan Heath, 2007

6 Comments »

  1. I don’t believe that climate change is a major eco issue. Temperatures go up and down, they’re not always, exactly the same.

    Comment by Feey1 — July 13, 2012 @ 12:14 pm

  2. What about Genesis 8:22?

    “While the earth remaineth, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease.”

    Events like the ice age came and went, but here we are. Enjoying the seedtime and harvest, the cold and the heat, the summer and the winter, the day and night. Think of all the natural fluctuations that happened in the past, and yet here we are, once again, enjoying the natural process of things. If it is indeed warming up again, I don’t know exactly what it is that people think we can do about it. Stop using cars and air conditioners? HA. Clearly God had no idea we’d be making those, right? Much less using them. Right?

    I’ve got nothing against protecting the environment and using cleaner alternatives. If we can find natural ways of enjoying modern technology that actually WORK and don’t cost us and arm and a leg, that’s excellent. But we’ll get there when we get there. We should pursue it quickly, but not because we’re being forced to. (Which in many ways, we are.)

    Also… how much of the information is accurate? What about ClimateGate? Sure it was hacked information. You can say a boatload of things about how terribly unethical it is to hack into others’ private emails (not to mention illegal). But that doesn’t change the fact that you’ve got a lot of people out there who are utterly twisting the facts for their own purpose.

    And who on earth ever said we weren’t allowed to set record high temperatures? What’s so bad about that? What of the record winter Europe had? Everyone seems to have forgotten that. Or brushed it aside saying all the extra hot air forced the cold air into one place. Which leads back into the global warming causes global cooling hoopla.

    Did it ever strike you as odd how the name even went from Global Warming to Global Climate Change? Perhaps it was changed to reflect the tendencies of temperatures to actually CHANGE, yet still make things seem mysterious and dangerous? “Global Climate Change” is nothing to be feared. The “Global Climate” Changes year after year. It has nothing to do with us, it has been that way for years.

    Perhaps instead they should have said: “Catastrophic Global Climate Change”, since that would have been more accurate in describing the over-extensive horrors some portray?

    Comment by Spyro — July 13, 2012 @ 5:48 pm

  3. Genesis 8:22 is indeed a promise of God, and I don’t believe that global climate change will destroy us or the earth. However, I don’t think that ignoring the concerns of an increasing group of people about the planet they live on is a healthy attitude for Christians to have.

    First of all, the very first thing that man is ever asked by God to do is to look after the earth, to take care of it. That puts a responsibility on us to make sure we’re being good stewards of it. I don’t want to ever be asked by God “Why did you take the miracle of creation and treat it like trash?” So, when highly respected people who study the earth are telling us about the harm we might be doing to it, we should at least listen.

    More importantly, though, if we’re ignoring it, even if we’re justified because of God’s promises, what kind of witnesses are we being? Non-Christians are not seeing us as people with hope for the future, but instead as people with our fingers in our ears, apparently unconcerned about the planet’s well-being. Instead of helping, many Christians seem to take the attitude of “Jesus will come soon anyway, so why not be wasteful?”. To many, who avoid God for whatever reason, their life on this earth and their legacy is all that they think they have. I think we’d be wise to be sensitive to that.

    Comment by Screenhog — July 13, 2012 @ 8:59 pm

  4. That’s a very good point, and I have to agree.

    In another additional aspect, I think God blessed us with the ability to use modern technology to enjoy life more. He also gave us the ability to learn how to do so more cleanly and efficiently. I guess my only beef with the topic is that too many people blow it out of proportion. Others still take advantage of this to force us to discontinue use of such blessings when we don’t yet have entirely sustainable alternatives. As I stated (or intended to) before, I have no problem with caring for the planet God gave us. But in the same respect I don’t like it when many of the individuals who claim a greater catastrophic effect of global climate change take God out of the equation, and oftentimes use this as a reason to turn only to alternatives that simply don’t work as well just yet.

    There’s a fine balance there, I think, between choking the planet and choking some of the gifts of prosperity God allowed us to have.

    Comment by Spyro — July 14, 2012 @ 4:49 am

  5. I understand, really, it’s true!!

    Comment by Aoww1 — September 20, 2012 @ 8:12 pm

  6. I. Love. This. Blog. It is a great place with art and stories from a religious point of view.

    Comment by Ben — June 12, 2013 @ 11:37 am

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