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How I changed my mind… about global warming, Byron Sharp, Oct 7 

How I changed my mind… about global warming, Byron SharpOct 7 

Most, if not all, people would consider themselves to be open-minded. Yet, if you ask someone to name an important belief that they have changed their mind about, in response to evidence and/or logic, most struggle to give even one example.

This is the first in a series of blogs where I describe how and why I changed my mind about something. I hope to encourage myself to change my mind more often. And to encourage others.

Short summary: I now worry less about global warming than I did, the scientific evidence is that it’s not going to be catastrophic. PS Our best course of action is to adapt to the effects and to invest in R&D to develop new low carbon energy.

I’ve been a “greenie” since I was a child. I raised money and marched to save the whales. I searched out all the pockets of native bush on our New Zealand farm. I became a vegetarian (although the original motivation was nutritional, not for the environment). As an adult I bought hundreds of acres of Australian bush (mallee) land and have set it aside to regenerate. When I learnt that greenhouse gas emissions were causing the climate to warm I put solar panels on the roof of my house, I sold my car and lived without one for years (until having a new baby made that impractical so I bought a small car and ran it on bio-diesel (I couldn’t afford a Prius)).

When Al Gore’s 2006 movie came out about global warming I used it to to rally my colleagues in the Ehrenberg-Bass Institute — “how could we contribute to the solution?” I asked. Being a complex problem I didn’t think it was likely it would be solved simply by legislation or technology, and I thought that we might contribute insights into consumer behaviour as well as mass communication effectiveness. Some of my colleagues pushed back (we have a culture of questioning, and not just accepting things that the director says). They said that Al Gore was exaggerating, that he sounded more like a religious zealot than a scientist, and pointed out the numerous errors he presented. I agreed, but I said he is a (religious) politician with good intentions, he’s inflating things to get attention. I quoted them more technical accounts of global warming from people like Tim Flannery (a mammalogist, author of The Weather Makers (2005)).



Matt Chester's picture
Matt Chester on Oct 15, 2019 10:05 pm GMT

 PS Our best course of action is to adapt to the effects 

Easy for this attitude to be the case when the effects aren't as immediate, but ask the island communities who are suffering the beginning of the worst of the effects today. Ask the undeveloped nations who will shoulder more of the impact despite having less than a fraction of the blame when it comes to emissions. Look at the climate change migration crisis that will affect people in areas far away from the cozy Western world, but it's easy to just 'adapt to the impacts' from where you may stand. 

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