Despite believing that the polarized debate around environmental issues is grounded in our common culture and that the resulting conflict is artificial, I still find the feud between parties frustrating. How can a demystified set of arguments continue to affect me in such a profound way? Despite seeing evidence of the contrary, I am inclined to doubt myself if I hear another compelling claim that just isn’t true.
In the small world of environmental communication, I follow people and organizations on social media that are clearly biased in the way they present their arguments. I see the arguments presented by those in favor of renewable energy and those in favor of fossil fuels. Many of their arguments are compelling, yet I can’t see past the color of the ink of the interests they represent. Some of the arguments are getting louder and more aggressive. The denial and anger that shine through are enough to dismiss them as false, without even looking at their potential merit. Yet they affect me.
People advise me to choose a side; to dismiss modern environmentalism as alarmist, or to describe people in industry as global warming deniers, and to open my eyes to the lobbying and conspiring that goes on. But how does that help, knowing that both sides mean well?
I suspect that it affects me because of the effort it takes to see past our upbringing and because of the creativity that is lost. If only I could tempt parties to stop their polarized debate so that I could ask them why they are so certain that their arguments are correct. Just long enough to ask them to put their anger, frustration and pride aside. Wouldn’t that be great? That would give them the respite to discover that their differences are not real. It would create an opportunity for each to see the other not for what he opposes but for what he stands for.
Responsibility requires us to adopt new information and course-correct as necessary. Responsibility requires that we find a way together. Responsibility also requires that we own our part and that we keep our word. That is the side I choose.