How do you respond to people in your daily encounters that don’t believe in sustainability or that the environment is in peril?
I am sure most of us have had this struggle with work associates or family/friends. I would love to hear how you approach this issue.
Larry Furman • This is a really good question. On one hand, I’m more interested in talking to people who are open-minded than people who won’t consider facts. On the other hand, it’s all about framing the issue. I have also found that people make decisions emotionally, then look for facts they can use to rationalize those decisions. But if they spend hours each day listening to Limbaugh, Hanity, and the other weavers of fantasy, then they will not respond to a few seconds of rationality from me. Yet, people who are concerned with issues of national security can appreciate arguments for solar, wind, hydro, and efficiency. People who don’t like the idea of subsidies for wind and solar shouldn’t like the idea of subsidies for coal, oil, nuclear, or frakking gas (frakked-up gas). They also understand the Lazard studies that show wind and geothermal cheaper than coal and nuclear, and understand that the costs of solar are dropping. just like the costs of computers. Then there’s sarcasm. When I say “After 100 days in Texas when the temperature was over 100, it’s a good thing global warming is a myth. If it was real, it’d be really hot.” they laugh and start to think (that ends when they turn on Limbaugh, and the others). I also said “we could solve this problem simply be redefining the Farenheit scale. If we revise 100 to mean 70, then when it’s 100 it wont feel so hot – it’ll only be 70.” The ludicrousness of the argument stops them dead in their tracks. Most of the time they look at me like I have 3 heads, but some of the time it puts a crack in their wall against reason. But mostly I realize that whether they are short-sighted, foolish, reckless, or maybe scared, their beliefs don’t matter. We will get more big storms, more big hurricanes and tropical storms hitting Massachusetts and Vermont, more heavy snows coupled with shorter winters and thinner ice (and more snow-mobilers crashing thru thin ice), more oil well / ocean / beach disasters like the Deepwater Horizon, more coal disasters like Kingston and Upper Big Branch, more nuclear disasters like Fukushima and near-disasters like Fort Calhoun The best we can hope to do is adapt. I’m a cup-half-full kind of guy, so I’m optimistic.