Monthly Archives: July 2013

Some Common Ground

My goal is to have 100 good conversations over the course of my cross country walk, but once in a while I have a great conversation – like the one I had with my brother Rob. Rob describes himself as a conservative and a christian. I would add that Rob is also a very intelligent, thoughtful, and loving person. I know there are some issues we have not agreed upon in the past, but we found some common ground in our conversation about climate change.

I expressed my concerns that, if we continue with business as usual, we will be leaving enormous problems for our children and grandchildren. He said that he is also concerned about future generations. He said he’s concerned about what kind of economy we will be leaving them; that if the government keeps spending the way it has been, prices will continue to increase and there will be fewer and fewer good jobs for future generations. I said that the effort to address climate change will require something like the war effort during World War II; and that it will likely involve a partnership between government and private industry. In addition, it will require strong cooperation between both political parties to make it happen.

I asked Rob how we could get both parties to cooperate on such a large effort. He said we can find common ground by focusing on the needs of future generations. The unifying question might be: “What can we do today to ensure that future generations have plenty of opportunities to live rewarding, healthy lives without being overly burdened by either economic or environmental crises?”

I truly appreciate the wise advice from my big brother and I will take it to heart as we move forward on the climate change issue.

What’s Your Source?

Several conversations I’ve had have ended with agreeing to disagree because we rely on differing sources of information.

One such conversation involved a government conspiracy. Here’s a summary of my conversation with Ralph (not his real name) which took place at a fast food restaurant in Rome NY:

Ralph: So is that your cart out front?

Me: That’s right. I’m walking across the country to raise awareness about climate change.

Ralph: Have you heard about chem trails?

Me: You mean the contrails left behind jet engines.

Ralph: No. I mean chemical trails deliberately sprayed into the upper atmosphere to cause global warming.

Me: Why would the government want to cause global warming?

Ralph: So that they can justify a socialist agenda to fight global warming.

Me: But what about all of the climate scientists who have made the case that climate change is being caused by the burning of fossil fuels like gasoline, jet fuel and coal?

Ralph: Most of those scientists are being paid by the government. They’re in on the conspiracy.

Another conversation took place on the Erie Canal Trail. Tom (not his real name) and a friend were riding by when they stopped to ask about my walk.

Tom: So what’s the story?

Me: I’m walking across the country to raise awareness about climate change.

Tom: I hear ya? I know global warming is happening, but do you really think it’s anthropromorphic?

Me: The scientific consensus is that global warming is caused by human activities.

Tom: No. There’s no scientific consensus that makes that connection. There are plenty of scientists who disagree.

Me: But a recent study of the climate change literature, found that about 97% of climate science papers agree with the notion of human induced climate change. (see http://theconsensusproject.com)

Tom: I am a scientist with a degree from MIT and I can tell you that carbon dioxide is not harmful – in fact, CO2 is necessary for plant growth. The problem is not CO2, it’s the sun and the expansion of the earth. Look it up.

Finally, I had a brief conversation in Macedon NY with a young woman who was curious about the cart.

Maggie (not her real name): What’s the cart for?

Me: I’m walking across the country and I’m using the cart to carry my things – sleeping bag, duffel, tent ect.

After giving me some suggestions to improve the cart, Maggie asked: “What’s the purpose of the walk?”

Me: I’m trying to raise awareness about climate change. I think, as a country, we aren’t making any progress towards addressing it.

Maggie: Well I know the weather has been strange but there’s nothing we can do about it. It’s just God’s plan. Its part of the end times. It was foretold that the weather would become erratic in the end times.

All of these conversations end the same way. We agree to disagree because we trust different information sources. So how can we proceed if we can’t agree that there is a scientific consensus? I’m afraid we have to start there because all discussion stops if we can’t agree on that consensus.