Via Green Building Elements, I got to read this post by Dr Buzz0 (not "bozo," though close) at depletedcranium.com in which he addresses the top 10 things environmentalists need to understand. In his about-the-author section, he says he's very active in the skeptic and debunking community, which gives context for his post.
Its most objectionable thread is that we shouldn't attempt any environmental changes that people wouldn't pursue out of their own free will, based on long-ingrained patterns and habits, because people just won't go for it.
This is patently obtuse, absurd, and boneheaded — not that I feel strongly about it.
"People won't go for it" could well be the worst standard ever proposed for contemplating change. ("We can't suggest the world is round. People won't go for it!") People will go for anything if they become alarmed enough. It's gruesome, but I just flashed on those poor souls who jumped from the World Trade Center. Not a one of them would ever have thought that jumping from the 90th floor was their best hope of survival, but then conditions changed.
As you know, I heard Lester Brown of the Earth Policy Institute speak on Sunday night, and he made an analogy apt to this discussion. He said that only a month after Pearl Harbor, FDR presented Congress with military production figures that provoked significant skepticism, but by redirecting the nation's impressive industrial capacity, we met and then exceeded the goals. One step he took was to ban the production of cars.
I can imagine Dr. Buzz0, if he'd been alive then, opining that "people won't go for it." But of course they went for that and for dozens of other sacrifices when they became convinced of the common threat. They not only went along but were enthusiastic about it, being proud to do their part.
The issue is not "what will people go for," but "what is the threat"? Will people put up with having to learn new habits, or even be willing to do with less, if they think that there is a present danger, and that they can contribute to the solution? Of course we will.
So the real question should be, is climate change a threat, and to my eyes, we do seem to have passed that threshold — even the Oilman in Chief gave lip service to the problem in his State of the Union speech.
Has mainstream public opinion reached the fever pitch that Brown espoused and the crowd in Lexington ate up on Sunday night? I sure don't think so, not yet, but that is the direction, and only because evidence keeps pushing opinion in that direction. The only reason that trend won't continue is if the direr predictions of climate change don't come to fruition, and in my opinion, only those who previously denied climate change existed at all think that's likely.
I fully expect that before people fully embrace efficiency and renewable energy, they will need to be led to to see that such steps are in their vital self-interest, and I concede that so far, we haven't seen a leader with both the right message and the ability to sway others. But that will come.
And then, the fair doctor will really see what people are willing to do.