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.