“The biggest problem we have right now is some nutcases in our country who don’t believe in global warming. I think that they are going to change their position because the evidence of the ravages of global warming is coming or is already there.”
During my career providing engineering services in support of sustaining a weapon system, I often supported meetings where a young lieutenant was trying to convince an Air Force colonel that a particular technical problem was real and needed an urgent solution.
It was a classic clash of completely different viewpoints that sometimes ended in a complete failure to communicate.
The colonel could remember when he was a brash and impetuous youth, full of passion and excitement. He could often try to bridge the gap. The brash and impetuous lieutenant, on the other hand, was often not only overwhelmed with his passion to solve the problem, but also a bit intimidated and nervous to the point of not recognizing the colonel’s empathy. In the back of his mind also was a churning of all the facts that the really smart engineers had explained to him. He didn’t always explain it very well.
The colonel had learned over the years how to deal with being overwhelmed by his responsibilities, and therefore had been given more and more responsibility. And now, he was responsible for an entire nationally-critical weapon system and had no hope of having sufficient funds to cover all his technical issues. His best hope lay in prioritizing his crises.
The young lieutenant’s horizon might extend not much beyond his current technical issue with some obscure corner of the hardware or software. He or she might understand that some kind of project may be necessary with the accompanying funds. But had little hope of seeing how all this fits into the big picture. (When you found a lieutenant that did not suffer these limits, they were a real jewel!)
If things are allowed to deteriorate, ill feelings and even name-calling can result.
This is what I see when I look at the whole global climate change debate.
The skeptical colonel is played by the “global climate change deniers”. He is certainly aware that something is amiss. But does it really rise to the level of a #1 problem? So many other things compete for that title! And really, we only have so much money.
The impetuous engineer is played by the journalist and political hacks who don’t really completely understand the science, but are quick to declare their passion for specific solutions to what they see as the #1 problem in the universe.
One thing I know from this experience is that the colonel holds the key to the resources needed for the solution. The only hope for progress was to schedule “return matches” where the lieutenant answered colonel’s questions as honestly as possible until he was comfortable with the solutions presented.
Calling him a “denier” would certainly not win the day, and would deprive you of the later re-match.