Often I wonder what it would take to change the mind of a “sceptic”.
A really good argument? A collection of the “right” scientific papers… name calling?
Perhaps for some these tactics might do the trick. However, the one argument that trumps all the objections to the scientific evidence that the deniers throw out is reality.
Because ultimately it is the reality of climate change that will convince even the most committed sceptic.
Once the army of angry bloggers and spin doctors who deny climate change start to notice the world outside they’ll wake up to the fact that CO2 has raised global temperatures.
Let’s just hope it’s not too late.
However for an example of a former sceptic accepting the reality of climate change one only has to look at the Russian President, Dmitry Medvedev. Late last year Medvedev was on record doubting climate change.
However recent comments made by Medvedev in the last few weeks indicate he now accepts the reality of global warming.
So what was the argument that changed Medvedev’s mind you ask?
The reality of climate change.
You see, Russia is literally on fire.
Russian scepticism of climate change
Medvedev is on record doubting climate change, calling it “…some kind of tricky campaign made up by some commercial structures to promote their business projects.”
The Russian’s official position on climate change mitigation was one of ambivalence, as noted in this article by Time:
“Broadly speaking, the Russian position has always been that climate change is an invention of the West to try to bring Russia to its knees,”
Indeed, mainstream media in Russia reflected this belief:
“…Two months before Copenhagen, state-owned Channel One television aired a documentary called The History of a Deception: Global Warming, which argued that the notion of man-made climate change was the result of an international media conspiracy. A month later, hackers sparked the so-called Climategate scandal by stealing e-mails from European climate researchers. The hacked e-mails, which were then used to support the arguments of global-warming skeptics, appeared to have been distributed through a server in the Siberian oil town of Tomsk, raising suspicion among some environmental activists of Russia’s involvement in the leak.”
This broad scepticism in both the government and amongst the public found expression at Copenhagen. Again, the “official” Russian position on climate change was one of scepticism:
Then, at a preliminary round of climate talks in Copenhagen in late October, Russia sent an even more disappointing message. The head of the country’s delegation, Mikhail Zelikhanov, a parliamentary deputy for Prime Minister Valdimir Putin’s United Russia Party, questioned the basic premise of the fight against climate change. “Scientific circles in Russia and elsewhere still do not have a united opinion on the causes of global warming,” Zelikhanov told the group of lawmakers from 16 countries in the hall of the Danish parliament. He suggested that an international panel be created to study whether or not global warming was the result of human actions and whether it could be stopped by cutting pollution.
The “official” Russian position on climate change was one of scepticism.
But that was until the appalling heat wave of this year.
Russia is burning
Climate change is not a future problem: the world’s climate is changing with devastating effects.
It’s not a problem for our grand children and children to deal with.
It’s a problem for the here and now.
At present Russia is currently experiencing its worst heat wave on record, with catastrophic fires raging across the country as crops wither and die in the heat. Indeed, Russia has placed a temporary ban on grain exports as a result of the worst drought on record. This will impact food prices across the globe.
Nor is it Russia alone.
Canada has experienced “excessive rains” leading to a 17% decline in wheat production. Poland, North Korea, China and Pakistan have experienced devastating floods. Nashville Tennessee was flooded in a what has been described as a “once in a thousand-year storm”.
To date the fires, heat wave and accidental deaths have killed almost 5000 people in Russia:
Death rates have escalated steadily since the heat wave began, according to statisticians. “We recorded 14,340 deaths in Moscow in July, that is 4,824 deaths more than in July, 2009,” said Yevgenia Smirnova, an official from the Moscow registry office.
Firemen are battling to stop the flames encroaching on the capital. Moscow’s landmarks, including the Kremlin and St Basil’s Cathedral, were shrouded in a thick, acrid haze. Those workers not ordered to stay at home wore masks as they struggled through the streets.
Russian President Medvedev in a speech to various international sports associations on 30 July noted the connection between climate change and the conditions the country where currently suffering under:
We are in the middle of an unprecedented heat wave, but I hope that this has not spoiled your stay in Moscow. We have never had such record high temperatures before. At times I have the impression that I’m somewhere in Italy or in Egypt, but certainly not in Moscow.
At the same time, this creates the opportunity to get a feel for all of the different faces of Moscow. I hope that Moscow’s hot climate has not tired you out, and that you have not lost faith in our ability to hold the Winter Olympics.
Frankly, what is going on with the world’s climate at the moment should incite us all (I mean world leaders and heads of public organizations) to make a more strenuous effort to fight global climate change.
As the Time article noted above, Medvedev’s statements on climate change are unequivocal: the temperatures and fires are unprecedented. It is climate change. We need to act.
Medvedev now recognises the danger.
But how have other climate change “sceptics” responded to the above facts?
By hiding their heads in the sand.
How do other deniers maintain their cognitive dissonance? Looking for information that will make them “feel better”
Of course, the unfolding tragedy in Russia has not shaken the confidence – or delusions – of the most prominent deniers.
As the world’s media is focussed on the fires, and Medvedev changes his position on climate change, the bloggers at the infamous “Watts up with that?” note it was really cold back in January:
There has been a lot of talk about the hot weather in Moscow over the last couple of weeks. This normally gets reported as the “hot weather in Russia.” But Russia is a big country, and much of it has been experiencing cold temperatures.
Yes, there indeed has been a lot of talk about the fires… but don’t worry, other parts of the country are cold!
The Caucuses and nearby Kazakhstan have been getting hit by one cold wave after another…
One could not find a clearer example of the psychology of the deniers.
Simply put, it’s about ignoring the world outside and looking for “facts” that soothe their anxiety.
“Shhhhh!” whispers the denier, “…don’t talk about climate change! Here is some cherry-picked information to make you feel better… “
* Sourced from Dawn.com