- While most scientists are in agreement about the need to curb climate change, there are opposing views about how to make those changes.
- Climate alarmism can lead to eco-anxiety and an overreaction that could harm rather than help reduce climate change.
- Immediate action is financially irresponsible and takes focus and funding away from more pressing global issues.
Climate alarmists use statistics about increasing carbon dioxide and methane in the atmosphere to argue that immediate action needs to be taken, otherwise the planet will be unrecognizable by 2030 and could lead to a decimated population by 2050. These statements, which are spread through media outlets and social media platforms, have caused eco-anxiety among a wide range of the younger population, as reported by environmental writer Michael Shellenberger in a Forbes opinion piece. While climate alarmists are trying to call people to action, experts state that this rhetoric can actually have the opposite effect, causing people to believe that it is already too late to correct climate change and that the youngest generations will be inheriting an unfixable earth. Shellenberger argues that these apocalyptic views are not only exaggerated, but that alarmism does more psychological harm than environmental good.
Instead of immediate action and alarmist rhetoric, critics believe a slower, and more thought-out process would be beneficial to curbing climate change. Those who disapprove of drastic climate action argue that current plans are expensive, yet will not provide the changes necessary to create a real impact. As climate activism critic Bjorn Lomborg explained for Forbes, “The cost would vastly outweigh the benefit to the extent that each dollar spent will avoid just 11¢ of global climate damage.” Lomborg further argued that such spending would be better used for more immediate problems, like funding vaccinations or investing in solving poverty and food shortages.
Supporters of a gradual response to climate change argue that a smarter way to tackle this problem is to invest in current green initiatives, including green energy suppliers like solar and wind energy, and phase out the use of fossil fuels. These long-term investments will work to battle climate change, while remaining fiscally responsible. In addition, constant progress in technologies, such as improvements in manufacturing, alternative energy sources, and cleaner burning automobiles all help to make lowering our greenhouse gasses a realistic option without taking drastic, immediate action.
- The author has presented the fundamental positions for this perspective in the debate. Outline the strengths and weaknesses of each perspective.
- If asked to begin forming an argument for this position, what sources would you need to build your case? What fundamental information do you need? What opinion leaders in this debate would you look to in solidifying your argument?
- What are the weakest aspects of the position outlined by the author? How might those weaker arguments help you prepare a counter argument?
- What additional Talking Points could you add to support this position?