Tired of Climate Deniers? Respond With A Different Kind of Science.
I, like so many climate change activists, am frequently confronted with some form of climate denial being thrown in my face. I’ve been told to grow up, get a job (i have 3, thank you), turn off the liberal media, the list goes on and on. I have read and studied many of the helpful articles that debunk the most common claims as to why climate change isn’t happening. I used to spend a lot of energy smashing every claim that came my way, typically with 2-3 hours of frustration surrounding me as I wrote back to someone telling me to pry my head from the sand. Then it became clear to me how critical it is that we shift the conversation.
The climate movement is fundamentally a scientific movement. Science, unfortunately, gets twisted and perverted to match agendas of varying groups, on both sides of the argument. Rather than reaching for the graphs correlating carbon output to global temperature rise we should be reaching for different studies.
In a report published by Appalachian Voices in 2012 found that “among the 1.2 million Americans living in counties where mountaintop removal occurs, as many as 60,000 additional cases of cancers are linked to the practice.” The report continues on, linking an additional 700 annual deaths from heart disease related to MTR mining. It wraps up with data from 2011 confirming that Kentucky and West Virginia have respectively the first and second most deaths from cancer in the country.
On the other side of the country in the Bakken Oil Fields in North Dakota the state saw a 16.1 % increase in violent crime from 2010-2011, correlating directly with the oil boom. The rape rate has climbed to a staggering 4 times the national average since the oil boom began. This sleepy ranching town has turned into a hotbed of drug use, theft, and violent and sexual crimes.
The fossil fuel industry carries harsh baggage. Appalachia and the Bakken are far from the only examples of regions struggling to cope with such a destructive industry taking hold. These stories carry harder data to refute. Climate deniers can twist the climate science as they see fit. I feel less likely to burn my energy refuting their climate science and more likely to turn to the numbers that are human.
The real problem is the fossil fuel industry is directly killing people, more often than not these are already marginalized communities that have historically had little to no voice in opposing the extreme extraction projects brought to their towns. Our planet needs saving, and it needs to come by way of empowering communities to stand up against losing another neighbor to lung cancer forced upon them by fly ash raining down from a MTR mine site. We all have a right to a healthy and safe existence, and make no mistake that the fossil fuel industry makes a mockery of this right in it’s conquest for profit.