A Conversation with a Climate Denier

I was at the Tustin Chili Cook-Off over the weekend and noticed a Republican registration booth, brandishing a large Trump sign. I decided to walk over and inquire about Trump's recent announcement to withdraw from the Paris Climate Accord. What were the views of these representatives, I wondered. Upon inquiring, a middle-aged lady rep responded, "It's too expensive. We've already given $1 billion to other countries." She proceeded to explain to me that volcanoes are responsible for warming the planet, not greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. I thought I'd share our conversation and my reply, since this otherwise nice woman is probably not alone in her views.

First, ensuring a stable climate for future generations and the survival of our species is "too expensive?" Besides the ridiculous sound of this comment, please, note that the $1 billion we've pledged to other countries is a mere rounding error in the U.S. annual budget of over $3 trillion.

Second, volcanoes are heating the planet? It is accurate that volcanoes influence the climate. But the influence she noted is completely backwards. That is, volcanoes do not heat the planet, they actually cool the planet. Much like burning fossil fuels doesn't heat the planet due to the hot flames created, but rather because of GHGs emissions that tram solar radiation, volcanoes do not heat the planet due to their hot lava. Instead, volcanoes cool the planet because they emit particles called sulfate aerosols into the atmosphere, which actually reflect solar radiation.

Whether you are Republican or Democrat, it is important to understand climate change, and seek facts from credible sources. If you are hosting a political booth, it is even more important to get the facts straight. Otherwise you run the risk of propagating misinformation and doing a disservice to your community. Climate change is a critically important issue. In a previous blog, I have discussed the issue of misinformation in some detail and listed credible websites for basic science and climate change information. Be sure to check it out!

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                                                    Shahir Masri
                                                    Doctor of Science
                                                    Environmental Health Science