The Role of Conditioning in Climate Denial (and How to Reverse It)
People who accept – and especially people who are concerned about – climate change often have a hard time understanding how others can feel differently, especially in the face of overwhelming scientific evidence. This blog post by business consultant and evangelical Christian Dr. Scott Rodin offers some insights. Though he strongly believes that we have a fundamental responsibility to care for creation, Rodin refused to accept climate change for many years, which he attributes to a lifetime of conditioning about how to view environmentalists.
In his post, he describes five different perspectives he once held, and how he came to realize that those views were inconsistent with his faith. He then re-examines those perspectives through a creation-care lens, and comes to a very different conclusion.
Rodin’s experience is yet another reminder that faith and the desire to fight climate change are not incompatible. And it also reinforces the importance of understanding how someone’s worldview shapes the way they receive and respond to climate messages. By staying away from politics and ideology, and instead emphasizing how climate solutions are a way to care for the world and the people in it, we can help shift long-held perspectives and find common ground.
Dr. Scott Rodin, The Stewards’ Journey blog
Imagine a mathematician basing his or her entire life’s work on the premise that 1+1 = 3. Absurd, right? Yet a few years ago I came to the conclusion that I had done exactly that when it came to my views on climate change. Here was my flawed formula.
I had spent nearly ten years of my life writing, speaking and teaching on biblical stewardship. As an evangelical theologian, I was (and am) passionate about helping Christians understand the full meaning of what it means to be a faithful steward in every area of their life. That included care for God’s creation.
Add to that that I’m a product of the 60’s when we believed that science was trustworthy on most things. I have no reason to doubt conclusions that come from a broad consensus of scientists. I am no conspiracy theorist, and I have a basic trust in the veracity of scientific data, especially when it is confirmed on a broad scale.
What is the conclusion that I drew from the combination of my passion for stewardship plus a basic trust in science? I was an adamant climate change denier. Yup, 1+1 = 3. Global warming was a hoax. Environmentalism was a word you said with a sneer on your lips. I cared for God’s creation and held science in the highest regard, all while sitting at home watching Whale Wars and rooting for the Japanese whaling ships (seriously). For some unknown reason I lived comfortably with this irreconcilable internal contradiction.