Ah, Thanksgiving. A time for feasts, family and a feigned headache every time politics is raised at the table by your climate change-denying, conspiracy-touting relatives.
“What did you say, Uncle Charlie? Climate change is an elaborate gimmick created by the UN in a bid for world domination? Oh, look! The game’s started. Let’s continue this chat … later.”
One in 3 Americans still don’t believe that humans are the primary driver of climate change, and more than half don’t believe that global warming will pose a serious threat to them in their lifetime, according to a 2016 Gallup poll. Engaging with climate deniers — even (or maybe especially) the ones you love the most — can be a frustrating and challenging exercise, and some say it’s not even worth trying given how entrenched these views often are.
But this year, I strongly urge you to consider making an attempt. With a president-elect who believes climate change is “bullshit,” record-breaking hot years becoming the norm, and the grim 2 degrees climate milestone looming ever closer, it’s never been more critical to learn how to have constructive conversations with climate change deniers.
So, how exactly are you going to broach the topic over a wedge of pumpkin pie?
Well, you could try to win them over with facts. Tell them that 97 percent of scientists agree that humans are causing climate change; or that despite what Donald Trump says, a “really cold” winter is not proof that global warming is a “hoax.” There also has been no “pause” in global warming since the 1990s, and yes, the climate has indeed changed before but this current bout of warming is not part of a “natural cycle.” (If you want to beef up your knowledge arsenal, Grist has an excellent list of responses to the most common arguments against climate change. Skeptical Science tackles some too.)
But chances are, you’ve already tried dazzling skeptics with facts and figures in the past, and it hasn’t worked. Political scientists have found that facts are typically insufficient to change minds and deeply held beliefs.
So this year, perhaps you should resolve to attempt this three-pronged strategy: