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How to Talk to Climate Change Deniers

March 01, 2017 | climate change

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After calling climate change “bullsh*t” and a “hoax” in recent years, Trump’s administration of fossil fuel CEOs and climate deniers is following through by dismantling virtually every government environmental program it can find. That includes crippling the Environmental Protection Agency “in almost every form,” withdrawing from global commitments included in the Paris Climate Agreement, and ordering a review of all current and pending international multilateral treaties. While this is maddening on the federal level, you may come in contact with climate change deniers right in your community. Here’s a climate change conversation toolkit to communicate with them:



When they say: “There is no conclusive evidence about global warming and climate change”


You can say: Global warming is not an output of computer models; it is a conclusion based on observations of a great many global indicators. By far the most straightforward evidence is the actual surface temperature record. While there are places — in England, for example — that have records going back several centuries, the two major global temperature analyses can only go back around 150 years due to their requirements for both quantity and distribution of temperature recording stations.


These are the two most reputable globally and seasonally averaged temperature trend analyses:


NASA GISS direct surface temperature analysis 



CRU direct surface temperature analysis 




When they say: “The climate has changed before, so this is nothing new and it’s not something we need to worry about.”


You can say: Life flourished millions of years ago during times of high CO2 in the atmosphere because the greenhouse gasses were in balance with the carbon in the oceans and the weathering of rocks. Life, ocean chemistry, and atmospheric gasses had millions of years to adjust to those levels. But there have been several times in Earth’s past when Earth's temperature jumped abruptly, in much the same way as they are doing today. Those times were caused by large and rapid greenhouse gas emissions, just like humans are causing today.


Those abrupt global warming events were almost always highly destructive for life, causing mass extinctions. The symptoms from those events (a big, rapid jump in global temperatures, rising sea levels, and ocean acidification) are all happening today with human-caused climate change. 


When they say: “Climate change is a hoax perpetrated by liberals and environmental extremists.”


You can say: Here is a list of organizations that accept anthropogenic global warming as real and scientifically well-supported:

NASA’s Goddard Institute of Space Studies (GISS):



National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA): http:/



Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC):



National Academy of Sciences (NAS):



State of the Canadian Cryosphere (SOCC) –



Environmental Protection Agency (EPA):



The Royal Society of the UK (RS) –



American Geophysical Union (AGU):



American Meteorological Society (AMS):



American Institute of Physics (AIP):



National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR):



American Meteorological Society (AMS):



Canadian Meteorological and Oceanographic Society (CMOS): 




But if scientists are too liberal and politicians too unreliable, perhaps you find the opinion of key industry representatives more convincing:


BP, the largest oil company in the UK and one of the largest in the world, has this opinion:

There is an increasing consensus that climate change is linked to the consumption of carbon based fuels and that action is required now to avoid further increases in carbon emissions as the global demand for energy increases.



Shell Oil (yes, as in oil, the fossil fuel) says:

Shell shares the widespread concern that the emission of greenhouse gases from human activities is leading to changes in the global climate.



Eighteen CEOs of Canada’s largest corporations had this to say in an open letter to the Prime Minister of Canada:

Our organizations accept that a strong response is required to the strengthening evidence in the scientific assessments of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). We accept the IPCC consensus that climate change raises the risk of severe consequences for human health and security and the environment. We note that Canada is particularly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change.


When they say: "We can’t even predict the weather next week"

You can say: Climate and weather are very different things, and the level of predictability is comparably different.


Climate is defined as weather averaged over a period of time — generally around 30 years. This averaging smooths out the random and unpredictable behavior of weather. Think of it as the difference between trying to predict the height of the fifth wave from now versus predicting the height of tomorrow’s high tide. The former is a challenge — to which your salty, wet sneakers will bear witness — but the latter is routine and reliable.


This is not to say it’s easy to predict climate changes. But seizing on meteorologists’ failures to cast doubt on a climate model’s 100-year projection is an argument of ignorance.


(Facts were sourced from



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