When it comes to talking about climate change, here’s a typical exchange between two people on opposite sides of the issue.
Person A, “Climate change is an important issue. 97% of scientists agree it is happening and it will have a devastating long term impact on the Earth. We must act immediately to switch off fossil fuels towards more sustainable renewable energy.”
Person B, “I don’t believe that climate change is real. Even if it was real, switching to renewal energy will cost a ton of money and make the American economy uncompetitive with the rest of the world.”
Person A, “I’m flabbergasted that you don’t believe it’s real! 97% of the scientific community agree and the other 3% that don’t are paid for by the oil companies. How can you not believe it?”
Person B, “Nope, I just don’t.”
This circular discussion typically results in a stalemate and lots of frustration on this important issue. So given this impasse, how do we convince Person B to care about renewal energy? If Person B still doesn’t believe climate change is real given all the existing data, maybe it would be best to reframe how we present the climate change issue altogether.
Instead of presenting climate change as a moral issue that we must address at all costs, I would argue we should talk about the economic opportunities that renewal energy can provide. For example, Solar Roadways is one of the green projects I am most excited about. Our current asphalt roads generate no value and waste all the heat energy from the sun. The idea is to replace our highways with durable solar panels that pay for themselves by generating solar energy. The solar panels would make highways safer with better lighting and could heat the roads to prevent icy road conditions. In addition, the solar roads would be able to charge electric cars, which would eliminate the driving distance limitations that current electric cars have. At the same time, this project would create a tons of jobs, improve America’s infrastructure, and create a solar power grid. Regardless of whether you believe in climate change or not, the benefits of this project would be appealing.
So next time you talk about the climate change issue with a climate change denier, maybe this is how it could go:
Person A, “Have you heard of solar roadways? It’s a cool new highway idea that captures solar energy from the roads.”
Person B, “Isn’t that going to cost a lot of money?”
Person A, “Yea, but the roads pay for themselves because they generate energy and it would create a ton of infrastructure jobs.”
Person B, “Jobs and self-paying roads sound good to me.”
Congrats! You just got a climate change denier to care about climate change.