Opponents, on the other hand, lack research infrastructure, attempting to manipulate and falsely extrapolate intensely researched data from climate experts- not advocates.
Researchers from Yale University published a book titled Global Warming's Six Americas. They examine varying degrees of individual's perception on climate change. More extreme views for immediate action(which might include shutting down all coal fired power plants,) make up a small percentage of environmental activists. You could easily put Jim Hansen in this category. Though a renowned scientist, he is becoming increasingly recognized as an aggressively staunch environmentalist, rather than scientist. But like many people, Hansen has likely become frustrated with the tree sap pace implementation of legislative, social, and industrial (policies, lifestyle and operations) respectively, and the commitment to reversing human induced climate change.
Opponents of climate change concern's have a line to tow, depending on the degree of opposition. Even starlet opponents such as Bjorn Lomborg, who lead a study sponsored by Copenhagen Consensus funded by the IMF, to address what the most pressing issues are facing humanity and how to prioritize them; Lomborg noted the environment is not a priority in his comments. Claims by legitimate scientist counter Lomborg's opinions as fabricated and deliberately distorted. Lomborg lacks fundamental insights to science and is not qualified to contest the evidence put forth by most climatologist; and as the evidence mounts his opposition continues to wilt.
Because human activity on the Earth is also directly related to conflict on the Earth(environmental, social, economic and otherwise) setting priorities will grow increasingly difficult- but making the right choices is paramount. In a recent discussion with a friend who had come up with a model for saving polar bears that are dying because of melting ice caps; he asked for my opinion. I was forced to ask him a series of provocative questions challenging the invention, for which he was not prepared to receive. As it turned out he neglected to consider a number of ecological unintended consequences. Opponents often don't support their arguments with hard data because of such oversights.
Heavily disputed IPCC's work happens to have 831 scientists and researchers in the fifth climate report they will generate. For whatever data they omit from their report, we still have to recognize the strength of the caliber of talent this body is made up of. If the strongest argument for opponents of climate change is that data was left out; which it was, there arguments will continue to fall apart. It is important to understand that government leaders specifically asked that IPCC research include significant data that might present insight to the most challenging environmental issues. That would imply that some pressing matters may not take priority over others- report back to us on those matters. Also universities, and other governing authorities as well as the National Academy of Sciences verified that the work was not compromised in terms of ethics or procedure and is in fact valid.
Ultimately individual people will have to amass enough knowledge to influence government to set environmental policies. Knowledge helps to persuade government of a matters significance. And because of the force of lobbyist against climate change policies, consumers must be able to consistently present formidable arguments capable of becoming mainstream thinking- but that requires a change.
Our perception of the cost of goods is skewed in the United States, resulting from a long standing feeling of entitlement. Cheap fuel, merchandise and taxes all make the United States very appealing but we have a lot to learn about the impact of our amenities. When we learn to adapt to a higher cost of living for the resources we use we will become a nation of advocates and revolution will be a mantra that is not as painful as it is in its current form.
Thomas Friedman author of Flat Hot and Crowded suggests that we are not even on the cusp of an environmental revolution; in a real revolution there are winners and losers. That means no cheer leaders, society is much more sophisticated than that. An environmental revolution will set policies that say either you get on board or get in the water and hope for the best. There is no compromise . The environment is not going to wait and give us a few more years until we get our house in order. Friedman was right when he said, the dot com revolution created leaders and those who got left behind- you got it or you didn't. We need an environmental vision that powerful.
There are very specific reasons we are going to experience what I call Climate Strange, because the climate will always change; but the strange occurrences will increase in frequency. This is a broader topic I will address in the near future.
Each of us needs to get out of our comfort zone and do something to advance a reversal of our carbon footprint. There an abundance of evidence and numerous experts indicating the urgency of climate change. If we fail to acknowledge as a nation the matter before us in the environment; and if we don't make it a national priority(which means creating jobs, investing in research and development and positioning the United States to be a leader in the industry of environmental products and innovation) we will no longer be identified as a leading nation among our global counter parts.
Scotland Willis is an environmental strategist, lecturer and advocate. He is currently a dual Masters candidate at Tufts in Environmental Engineering and Urban and Environmental Policy and Planning. He does management consulting in systems and large scale change and is a columnist/ photographer for environmental issues.