The holiday season is upon us. The opportunity to spend quality time with family members we don’t necessarily get to see on a regular basis, can bring with it both good and bad. We wanted to provide you with a short “cheat sheet” to help channel the conversation around the holiday table this year when the subject of climate change “pops up!”
We all have an “Uncle Bob” or an “Aunt Rose” who like to challenge us on a regular basis, particularly when they know that as Climate Mamas and Papas, we spend a lot of time and effort to try to educate ourselves and others on the facts and the reality of climate change.
To help you out this holiday, when you find yourself “cornered” at the table by your Aunt Rose, we have some great advice and straight forward answers for you that our colleagues at Climate Access and Climate Reality/Reality Drops have shared.
With your help, we have chosen 3 comments that our Climate Mamas and Papas tell us they hear regularly from people at their holiday tables and family gatherings. Make sure to check out Climate Access and Reality Drops, as well as the handy dandy “smart phone app” from Skeptical Science so you have the facts on climate change at your fingertips. We do suggest, however, as an example to the kids in your life, that you keep your smart phone away from the family dinner table!
Comment 1. Climate Change isn’t real and humans certainly are too insignificant to change our planet’s climate system.
Comment 2. Even if Climate Change is real, there’s nothing we can do about it.
Comment 3. We need to be energy independent, natural gas is cleaner then oil, we have gas, so we should use it and stop depending on the Middle East for oil; anyway, renewable energy can’t meet our energy demands any time soon!
Here are some answers and advice for those top three climate change related comments.Answer 1: Don’t debate the consensus or the science. Climate change is real, here, now and caused in large part by the actions of humans. Climate change deniers are like those who disagreed about cancer and cigarette smoking, even after the Surgeon General’s warning; or those who argued with the scientific evidence that HIV leads to AIDs.
Send deniers to the experts, NOAA, NASA, the US National Academy of Sciences, the US Military and the insurance industry, all confirm with certainty that climate change is real and the rate, pace and speed of the changes we are seeing today are almost entirely caused by human actions.
Answer 2: While we can’t stop our climate from changing, we can do things both at the individual, community, national and international levels to slow things down. We can transition to renewable energy now, as we know with certainty that fossil fuels, oil, coal and gas, are causing our climate to change. We can reduce our energy as we scale up our use of renewable energy. We can change our consumption patterns, use less, buy smarter, and build “greener.” At the same time as we slow climate change, we need to prepare for the extremes that we will face. We need to be better prepared for the droughts, floods and extreme weather events that are and will continue to be part of our lives.
Answer 3: Natural gas is a dirty fossil fuel. Like coal and oil, it produces carbon pollution that disrupts our climate and greatly increases our risk of costly disasters. Nonetheless, natural gas is often touted as a temporary “bridge fuel” that will help us move away from coal and toward renewable energy like wind and solar.
But here’s the thing: We don’t have to wait. The longer we delay our transition to truly clean energy, the worse off we’ll be. Natural gas is mostly made of methane, which is a greenhouse gas over 20 times more powerful than carbon dioxide. If methane leaks from natural gas extraction and distribution prove to be as high as initial studies indicate, natural gas could even be worse for our climate than coal. Moreover, the International Energy Agency found that a large natural gas boom, even with practices to reduce methane leakage, would still put us on track for an unsustainable global temperature rise of 3.5 degrees Celsius. The good news? We have viable alternatives. In 2012, the top new electricity source in the U.S. was wind power — not natural gas.
Clean, renewable energy is turning out to be just as reliable as dirty fossil fuels — with the added benefit that it doesn’t pollute the air or warm our climate. The right combination of a more flexible power grid and appropriate sources of clean energy can provide around-the-clock power — even when the sun isn’t shining or the wind isn’t blowing. In fact, by adding more clean energy, we’re making the entire grid more dependable. Which is a good thing, because every power plant is vulnerable to disruption.
For every Uncle Bob, or Aunt Rose, there are thousands more uncles, aunts, cousins and colleagues that also think, act and believe the same way. So, by beginning to help Uncle Bob understand the facts through your eyes and through your personal stories you can set a visible example for your family of how one person can help change minds and move our planet towards a future that will be livable and sustainable for us all.
After all, Uncle Bob in all likelihood does really and truly care about your family’s future, as your family is his family too.
Let us know what other questions you were asked about Climate Change at your holiday table this year.
This holiday and every day we are THANKFUL, for each one of our Climate Mamas and Papas, changing our world for the better, one conversation, one action, and one story at a time!
With gratitude and thanks,