Do We Need to Acknowledge That Climate Change is Human-Caused?
Climate advocates often take it as a no-brainer that people need to recognize that climate change is human-caused before they will be willing to do anything about it. But a recent article in Think Progress challenges that thinking. While the article doesn’t come down clearly on either side of the debate, it does raise questions about whether believing that climate change is human-caused is truly necessary to catalyze meaningful action on climate change. The article describes efforts by two Republican governors, Governor Rick Snyder of Michigan, and Governor Brian Sandoval of Nevada, who have made significant inroads on climate solutions without explicitly tackling the question of who’s responsible. The underlying logic, as the article’s author points out, is that tying climate change to human activities often involves both blame and guilt, which may not be productive for advancing climate solutions. Instead, focusing exclusively on the outcome or behavior climate advocates ultimately want — such as an increase in clean energy — might be the best path forward for creating change.
We’re all familiar with climate deniers — the politicians who proudly declare that 97 percent of climate scientists are wrong, and human carbon emissions aren’t driving up global temperatures to a potentiallycatastrophic degree. Opposing them are what Grist’s David Roberts termed “climate hawks” — people who think climate change is real, it’s extremely dangerous, and civilization’s use of fossil fuels is behind most of it.
But in between, a strange twilight figure has risen for whom there is no term, but with whom climate activists will have to grapple if America is to do its part in keeping the world under 2°C of warming.
Michigan Governor Rick Snyder (R) probably represented this odd creature best back in August: “[Climate change is] a concern in terms of both its impact and the volatility it’s having on our weather patterns,” he said. But when reporters dug into whether humans are causing it, Snyder dodged: “I don’t get into how we got there because that tends to go off into a discussion that I don’t think has real value.”
Image credit: Think Progress