Preaching beyond the choir

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From catastrophic weather phenomena to ever-worsening global climate conditions, there is no longer any doubt about the devastating effects of climate change – or is there?

While the point may seem obvious to many – in particular, the billions who reside in those developing nations most affected – not everyone is a believer in the gospel of climate change.

For those on the side of climate advocates, the literature of scientific research will always prove a haven of acknowledgement and urgency. While it is important to avoid confirmation bias, it is nonetheless reassuring to know that there exists a plethora of empirical data to support the argument for climate action.     

Yet, in the “post-truth” age of media demonization and scientific mistrust, facts no longer seem relevant to the dicussion. In its place, there now exists a large and growing number which question whether information surrounding the climate can be classified “fact” at all.

Thus, even in the face of scientifically-sound research, there remain those who deny the realities of climate change.

As the old adage goes, you can bring a horse to water but you can’t make it drink.

But what to do when that metaphorical pool seems to be evaporating before our very eyes? At what point are environmentalists obligated to re-enlist those perhaps deemed a “lost cause” with the power of dialogue?

Herein lies the heart of the problem: only those who already believe in the cause of climate change consider the topic urgent enough to dicuss beyond the its own existence. As a result, solutions-focused environmental conversation seem contained to environmental groups alone.

In and of itself, this is not an issue; to the contrary, networks of like-minds are perhaps more valued now than at any other point in history. Especially with regards to the environment, groups like these play an important role as engineers and drivers of climate action. Certainly, they are not to be discredited.

Climate change however, does not exclusively affect these groups, nor does it occur as a result of solely their actions. Rather, it is a result of collective decision-making and has already proven mercilessly non-discriminatory.

So how do we move beyond the walls of the metaphorical church of climate change? How do we preach beyond the choir?

Perhaps the most readily-available approach is the simplest – discourse on the environment should not be a sermon and it certainly should not require faith. Rather, it must be relentlessly pragmatic and absolutely certain.

The time for preaching has passed. The age of discussion has only just begun.

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