Finding common ground amid climate controversy

This article attempts to explain how climate change deniers and those who understand it is real can communicate. Generating productive conversations and finding shared values on climate issues IS possible.

Scientists have been researching human-caused climate change for more than 50 years, inexorably fitting together puzzle pieces of atmospheric composition, interactions between different parts of the Earth system, rates of change, and feedback mechanisms.

Their efforts have led to huge strides in understanding of the Earth. But one variable stands out as perhaps more stubborn than the rest; a factor that defies laws of physics: human behavior. A number of physical scientists have wandered into the unfamiliar territory of social science as they try to understand what leads people to accept or reject the findings of scientific endeavors. They’ve learned that to better grapple with the problems of human-driven climate change, they must also learn more about what makes humans “tick.”

That’s one of the motivations behind the recent Yale Climate Connections “Common Ground” series, the subject of a brief video made as part of a presentation in December 2017 at the fall meeting of the American Geophysical Union, AGU. The ideological stalemate around climate change in the U.S. by now is sadly familiar, with an intractable gulf separating the ranks of — by whatever terms seem adequate or inadequate — “believers” and “doubters.”

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