The other day I was chatting with a friend who launched into the argument about global warming being part of a large natural cycle. You’ve heard it. ”The planet has been in an abnormally cool pattern for several thousand years.” ”There is no scientific proof that humans are even capable of impacting earth temperatures. ”The leftist media is trying to stir up panic about climate so liberals can justify expensive untested environmental legislation to a terrified population.” And so on.
“OK,” I said, “Let’s say you’re right. Can we agree the atmosphere likely has more CO2 than it did 150 years ago? Doesn’t scientific evidence suggest the earth’s temperature is rising? Do we agree the cost of energy is likely to increase?” We were OK so far. I went on, “Let’s leave the issue of global warming aside; can we agree reducing energy consumption is a good idea?” We did agree.
I offer the following strategies for talking about energy and global warming with your pals that don’t share your philosophy. People justify saving energy however they want – altruism or pocketbook. Who cares as long as they do it?
Environmental liberal (AKA “utopian treehugger”)
Saving energy isn’t about the short sided desire of saving money, it’s about taking responsibility for the forests, the landscape, the oceans, endangered species, and stopping the scourges of acid rain and pollution. We need to stop the destruction, no matter the investment, because the planet will no longer support us if we don’t. Nature will continue, we won’t.
Fiscal conservative (AKA “greedy narcissist”)
Saving energy makes financial sense, and can produce win-win scenarios. Look at companies like WalMart. They are reducing energy by putting skylights in their stores and eliminating light fixtures. Guess what? They found out daylight makes people buy more stuff. They are saving energy and selling more product, which is good for their stock holders. Energy costs money. More energy saved, more dividends.
Progressive (AKA “tax and spender”)
Saving energy will save millions of lives. If we continue to consume as much energy as we have since the beginning of the industrial revolution, it is an indisputable fact that the earth’s ice sheets will melt and oceans will rise. Coastal areas, which hold the vast majority of the world’s population will be inundated with water, leading to population and economic collapse across all nations and markets. We need to invest in renewable power so that we can move towards a “green” economy without any carbon-based fuels. It’s the only responsible strategy.
Deeply religious (AKA “lockstep zealot”)
Saving energy is a way of being better stewards for God’s creation. There are several ways reduction in energy use can stimulate the mission of a religious organization. One, more energy saved, more funds available for doing God’s work. Two, reduction in consumption can slow the rate of natural resource depletion, which protects the interests of future generations. Three, caring for the planet is fundamentally our responsibility and what God entrusted us to do. We are the planet’s caretakers.
Social Liberal (AKA “socialist dreamer”)
You cannot have a comprehensive platform of human rights without environmental sustainability, and you can’t have environmental sustainability without energy reduction. If we’re consuming more energy per capita than people do in other parts of the world, we’re taking more than our fair share. We either need to increase our ability to produce clean energy for everyone or reduce our consumption such that it is more in line with other nations. Refusal to do so is passive genocide.
Social Conservative (AKA “intolerant”)
Saving energy will allow us to stop exporting American dollars to support the corrupt oil economies of the Middle East and South America. We’d be better off investing locally to help support American jobs. That could take the form of investing in high-paying renewable technologies in conjunction with finding ways to reduce consumption of carbon fuels such that our use is more in line with domestic energy production. Keep it home.
A friend of mine references the thinking of Mary Parker Follett when suggesting we think more about how we can achieve “integration” (I win, you win) when looking for solutions to tough issues, instead of resorting to the typical oppositional tactics modeled by elected officials – domination (I win, you lose) or compromise (I lose, you lose). It’s probably not always possible, but a worthy goal.
Hit that light switch on your way out, will ya?