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Ah yes, the climate change denier. I won't beat around the bush here: they're wrong. If we are to weigh our beliefs on the preponderance of the evidence, as we should when it comes to matters of science, then the evidence is overwhelming. The atmosphere of our planet is getting warmer, and it's largely our fault.

But not everybody thinks the same way. Not everybody weighs their beliefs in the same manner. Not everybody is convinced by the same evidence that we use to convince ourselves.

So....now what?

Arguments, usually. Heated words. Misunderstanding. No compromises. No resolution. Battle lines drawn. Trenches dug. Shelling continues at daybreak.

That's not going to work. For us, for them, for anybody.

So, again...now what?

First, as always, empathy. Radical empathy. Don't ask yourself why someone believes a certain position - you already know you disagree about that. Ask yourself how they form their beliefs in the first place. If it's not about the evidence, then what is it about? Is there some deep-seated need that they're trying to fill by denying climate change? Do they think other things are simply more important? Do they have a fundamentally different worldview?

Try, really try, to understand. Even when you know they're wrong. You won't convince them based on the evidence, so at least try to understand where they're coming from.

Listen, really listen. Not to what they're saying, but to what they need.

Maintain respect.

And, when it comes time, demand respect for yourself. You have a reason why you believe. You have your own convictions. You have the weight of accumulated evidence standing behind you. Don't shy from an opportunity to share and explain.

The scientific method is incredibly powerful. It allows us to view the universe through an impartial, fair lens. Over the grinding course of years, decades, and even centuries, we arrive at ever-more sophisticated and accurate models of the physical world. And that tool, that great machine, has turned its attention to the climate of our world and our impact on it. We arrive at our conclusions not through our will, but through the impetus of raw evidence filtered through the sieve of reason and induction.

That's worth something. That's worth sharing. That's worth explaining. That's worthy of respect.

Stand up! Stand up for accuracy and completeness. Stand up for evidence and reason. Stand up for answering scientific questions with scientific answers. It's okay to demand such respect for your beliefs, if you've given proper respect for theirs. Dialogs are, by definition, a two-way street. So, if the opportunity presents itself, share. Share how and why you know. Focus on yourself and your attitudes. It's nothing personal. Just an explanation.

I can't tell you how this attitude will shake out in any one-on-one conversation. You may get shut down or shouted out. That's fine. As long as you came away understanding a little bit more, it's a win.


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