With Australia being ravaged by apocalyptically disastrous wildfires, attention has once again been steered to the climate change debate. In spite of the unanimous academic consensus that climate change is real, many people, including the US president, continue to deny its existence. Only 62% of Americans believe in man-made climate change, and efforts to confront the dilemma, such as taxes on carbon emissions, have failed repeatedly in front of voters.
The Australia wildfires are just another example of evidence that climate denial is just denial of reality. While a popular quip among deniers is that “climate changes all the time,” the problem is that climate has been steadily increasing in ways that’ll have cataclysmic consequences for generations to come.
Climate deniers’ refusal to acknowledge reality isn’t just scientifically silly, it’s deadly. As of now, 24 people have died in the wildfires, and millions more can be expected to suffer the same fate unless sufficient action is taken to mitigate climate change. If people can’t even recognize that climate change is a problem, pragmatic solutions to prevent countless deaths won’t be enacted.
While it may be convenient to write off climate change deniers as hopelessly ignorant, many of them are simply unacquainted with the actual information. Climate deniers don’t believe what they believe because they’re stupid, but because of false information leading them to an incorrect conclusion.
The solution is to no longer allow “debate” on whether or not climate change exists. News agencies have a responsibility to the public discourse to ensure all people are well-informed, and giving airtime to people lying to the public prevents that. News agencies like BBC have already conducted this change, ensuring that people don’t get tricked into believing that climate change isn’t happening.
With each crisis comes opportunity. Although Australia will be decimated from these wildfires, the silver lining is that the carnage wrought by climate change is made even more obvious, While denial of climate change has blocked progress on any initiative to seriously stop the consequences, we all still have time to prevent the damage from being enormous. We shouldn’t waste it.