Joan and I love puns, and have had many happy moments in pun fights, trying to outdo each other. Unfortunately, she usually wins. Her winning pun is usually so bad that I am at a loss for words and all I can offer is a groan. So, the other day when I was wasting time on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, I asked Joan why talking about climate makes everyone angry. She had a simple, one word, answer… “denial”. I knew she was right, but all I had was the old family joke, “De Nile is the longest river in Africa.” In fact, I have since learned that I wasn’t all that clever. Indeed, variants of this pun have been around for years, usually ascribed to Mark Twain, but with no proof.
When I ramble through social media, I see angry people! This is especially so when they talk about politics or climate. In fact, these days talking about the climate is a political argument. People take sides and yell at each other. So, they say many nasty things. On my recent visit, I read some real “winners”. For example, “Climate change is a religion for people with no faith.” Or, “Climate deniers are morons!” Generally, the dialogue is heated and mostly pointless. It seems that talking about climate makes everyone angry!
Some folks have to “win” every conversation. So, their goal is to force everyone to see just how right they are. If the argument ends, they win the conversation, take the prize and are smarter than everyone else. Indeed, this feels good. But, winning a conversation doesn’t cause change. In fact, often people simply nod in agreement to get out of an uncomfortable situation. They have had no change of heart and think the winner is a jerk. Or, they just shut up and walk away.
Once again, they have no change of heart and still think the winner is a jerk. And again, talking about climate change makes everyone angry
People are angry because climate change is scary. They worry about money, about their homes, and about their family. This issue strikes at the heart of our sense of security and wellbeing. It is a threat!
Fear is a natural reaction to a threat. As well, frightened people respond in predicable ways. They run away, which I see as denial. “Let’s get away from this big, scary monster. Don’t talk about that! Go away!”
Or, they fight. They argue and try to win the conversation. They feel as though winning the conversation makes climate change unreal. If they win the conversation, the climate isn’t changing and everything will be just fine.
Finally, some simply don’t care. For me this is the most frightening response of all. Indifference is harder to deal with than arguments. It’s soft, it’s mushy, and it’s difficult to get a handle on. Some folks respond this way because they see climate change as a long-term issue. So, they feel that they won’t be around to see it. As a result, they don’t really care one way or the other. They just want to get on with their lives without worrying about it.
I know that this is a simplistic analysis, but in my years of dealing with climate, more often than not I have found fear to be the root of the arguments hurled at me. Simply, I have a very scary message and mission and they would rather I just shut up. Talking about climate change makes everyone angry.
To achieve resilience, we need buy-in to take action. We must stay on top of the fear, calm down the rhetoric and get on with it. Talking about climate makes everyone angry and angry people resist change.
You are not alone. There are folks here to help you out. Seek the advice of climate risk and resiliency experts. Also, do not be afraid to engage in the debate. We all have something valuable to offer. Contact us, we are always happy to discuss your climate, risk and resiliency.
We released our free NodelWorks course, How To Understand Each Other in Climate Resilience Work the week of July 1, 2019. Check out our other courses and digital downloads at NodelWorks, our self-directed training platform. At present, most of our NodelWorks offerings are free. We will announce new premium courses over the next few months.
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