As many of you know, I write a lot about climate change. As a result, lots of my supportive friends send me articles about climate change. Many of these are about climate deniers. In fact, I get swamped with these stories. Then I see the same climate denier stories go round and round on social media. Some environmental organizations even use these stories to raise more money and enlarge their email list
I have had enough. One problem with these climate denier stories is that they take up so much energy and space at the expense of far more important stories. Maybe it is my peace loving Quaker sensibilities that recoils at how climate deniers get dehumanized and further conflict grows. Today Huffington Post Green published a piece I wrote calling for an end to the spread of these types of stories on social media. Here is an excerpt:
Sure we recycle, change a bunch of lightbulbs, eat less meat and post stories about yet another Conservative who refuses to read the handwriting that is clearly visible on the wall. But for many of us, those acts absolve us from any further responsibility. By calling out and mocking the extreme climate denier, we shield ourselves from the ways that we are not fully embracing the enormity of global warming.
The article you posted is not a climate story. This is a partisan story that actually distracts people from looking at real climate stories. It is also one that ignores liberal lawmakers, who say they are concerned about climate change but do not seriously address it. Our promoting this denier story over many other much more vital stories undermines progress.
As we share it over and over, we also widen the gap between “us and them” as we dehumanize those people who have not yet acknowledged the reality and severity of climate change. We reduce them to simply “deniers” — ignorant hacks devoid of emotional complexity, values and reasoning. These attitudes extend beyond our opinion of denying lawmakers, but also to our family, friends and co-workers.