Some people believe that more scientific reports are equated to a greater knowledge of climate change, which in turn supports policies that keep fossil fuels in the ground. Social science suggests that these high-profile studies are actually increasing the gap between those that understand the science and those that deny the occurrence of climate change. When one cannot accurately interpret the scientific studies, it is easier to deny the fact that climate change exists.
Dan Kahan, Yale University professor, found that polarization increases in the public as a result of science literacy increase. Kahan also found that an individual’s feelings on climate change are affected more by that individual’s interests and beliefs than by easier access to scientific facts. This is a huge problem when we are spreading climate science, even if accurate.
A great quote that is applicable in this situation was said by Upton Sinclair, “It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it.”
This addresses a good question of who will bear the costs of carbon fuel use? And the better question- are the costs measured in money or energy?
Converting from fossil fuels to alternative energy sources will be expensive, too. The whole physical infrastructure of the way the public receives energy will have to be completely redone. Currently the use of fossil fuels provides a great number of jobs for Americans. These Americans are extremely dependent on their income generated from fossil fuels. And unfortunately they are too familiar with being jobless and poverty.
What should a national climate policy include economically, educationally and how should it address those coalfield communities that currently depend on fossil fuels for work. Caring about our environment includes caring about the people who co-exist on it, too. Coming up with a climate plan if we are going to change anything includes addressing the economics of this shift. Someone needs to figure out a way to address of these concerns. After all, aren’t we trying to improve our earth for everyone?
Unfortunately environmentalists seem to not care about coalfield communities. But it is crucial for environmentalists to be careful with how they frame their arguments. They should not be insulting to coal miners. Coal miners are simply trying to feed their families. It is the coal companies that are the real enemies. Environmentalists should also be thinking about jobs and protecting the union. It is all related. If we can fix the environment while also protecting the union and our fellow workers, that will be a much better solution. And while the shift may be expensive, in the long run, it will be extremely cheaper in terms of money and resources.