Why Isn’t Climate Change Fully Accepted?

Kate Heister, Science and Technology Writer

In the last 200 years, Earth has changed substantially. The surface of the planet has risen in temperature by around 1.62 degrees Fahrenheit since the late 1800s. This increase in temperature has most notably taken place in the last 35 years with 2016 being the hottest year on record. Additionally, the oceans have warmed 0.4 degrees Fahrenheit since 1969. And though these numbers don’t seem substantial, they are. Antarctica lost about 127 billion tons of ice per year during the years of 1993 and 2016, the global sea level rose by 8 inches in the last year, and the acidity of the surface of the ocean has increased by 30%. Climate change has negatively affected our world in more ways than one. However, even though these facts have been brought to the attention of the world, there are still people who don’t believe that climate change is a problem that we should be worried about.

Why do some people not believe that climate change is a problem? This question can have a lot of different answers. When asked this question, Hannah Carter ’22 responded, “People don’t believe in Climate Change because they don’t want to change their ways. There’s irrefutable proof that Climate Change is real. But for so many, it would change the way that they live and that makes them uncomfortable. It’s horrifying that there are still Climate Change deniers, but they do exist. We have to show them that changing their lifestyles might be odd at first, but it is so worth it in the long run.” This perfectly summarizes a large reason why some people refuse to not believe that climate change is a problem. Whether it’s as simple as changing from plastic straws to paper ones or as complex as switching from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources, people don’t want to make changes in their lives. However, even changing one small aspect of your life can help change our world for the better and lead the Earth down a path of regrowth.

Another reason people don’t believe that climate change is important is that they believe that someone else is going to take care of this problem for them. The truth is that most people know the basic facts, they simply believe that this horrifying problem will be solved by themselves and the people around them. After all, if renowned scientists can’t solve this problem, then how can we, simple people, solve this problem. However, the truth is that we can make a difference, and we can’t rely on anyone else to fix this problem but ourselves. If we all believe someone else will solve this problem, then the problem will never be solved.

A third reason people don’t believe that climate change is an important problem is that they refuse to acknowledge its existence. Despite a large number of scientists who have shown this problem exists, some people are so set in their beliefs that they won’t listen. This is because people don’t see the problem right in front of them. For people who live in cities that are threatened by rising sea levels or in countries that are ravaged by fires, climate change is easy to see. But for people who haven’t seen the effects of climate change first-hand, it’s very easy to dismiss it as fake news. There are many reasons why people might believe that climate change is fake. Upper School Global Peace and Justice teacher, Betsy Renzo, states many of these reasons perfectly: “Is a result of a polarized political climate, in which being contrarian is seen as being loyal to a political party, rather than focusing on facts. Our media, which profits from drama, has supported the perpetuation of fake news. Denying climate change is a result of this fake news, as scientists are clearly in the overwhelming agreement of its veracity.” If we ignore the facts and simply believe everything that is being put out in the News politically, someone might believe that climate change is fake or simply doesn’t matter. This can be changed by spreading awareness about climate change yourself.

However, sometimes people don’t want to believe that anything is wrong in the world they live in. Some people don’t live in an area that is affected by climate change yet. And after all, “seeing is believing.” Emma Slease ’23 explained, “They’re in denial. They don’t want to believe what’s happening to our planet is real.” People who completely don’t believe in climate change may bring up different arguments stating their opinion. These arguments may include things like “there is no real evidence that climate change is real” or “there is no known cause of climate change.” And though, indeed, humans cannot account for all of the changes in our climate, we must take responsibility for the large portion that we did cause. When discussing with people who refuse to acknowledge climate change as a problem, it’s best just to restate the facts. Show the damage done to the rest of the world. Just because it’s still cold in North America, doesn’t mean glaciers aren’t melting and raising the sea level. Share the problems that cannot be seen with them such as the unnatural amount of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere which raises the temperature of the planet. Just because you cannot see climate change doesn’t mean that it isn’t there.

At the end of the day, it isn’t too late to save our planet. It all starts with you. Make a small, eco-friendly change to your daily life, share this deadly problem with someone unaware, and make clean choices for the sake of the Earth.