Key Takeaways

While the resources provided here may seem pretty varied, there are a few key points that should be highlighted:

1. Let the scientific method do its job. 

Similar to what has happened with COVID-19, confusion can easily arise when the scientific method happens in the public eye and findings change as hypotheses are changed or updated as new data becomes available. This doesn’t mean that the overarching themes are incorrect, just because a few points may be wrong - it just means the scientific method is working and the evidence is still presenting itself. The newspaper articles included from the 1970s and 1980s and especially the one from 1924 shown here are all good examples of this - each of those articles were published with the best information that was available to the author at the time, and they did their best to represent their knowledge fairly by implying doubt or uncertainty when assumptions were unclear or further research was still required.

The problem occurring now is unfortunately no longer one of interpreting data improperly, however. There was a change in the articles from the 70s and 80s that weren't confident in declaring climate change because it was still so new to the articles that refuse to acknowledge climate change now, even though it has been so well established. This leads to the second takeaway:

2. It is important to understand the motives of the media you are consuming.

The Global Climate Coalition was a well-known climate change denying organization, but was also backed by fossil fuel companies and others who benefited from the mistrust in scientific research on climate change and the resulting inaction. Another example of this is The Heartland Institute, the self-proclaimed free-market think tank who also regularly receives donations from people who benefit from disbelief in climate change, such as the Koch brothers. The Heartland Institute produces regular articles and studies that appear to be sound, but their claims can often be quickly disputed by other more reputable sources, includig the 97% of scientists who agree that anthropogenic climate change is occuring and must be mitigated. It can be difficult to discern if a source is a good one, but often-times whoever they are receiving money from can be a good indicator of where their priorities lie as an organization. This can be seen in the article on the left, "No Need to Panic About Global Warming" - it was mentioned in the Exxon case study that one of the 16 scientists who co-authored that paper was a former Exxon employee, and is also known to have produced sound climate data back when he worked directly for the Research and Engineering department of Exxon. Once again, it is all about motive and trying to figure out what it might be and how to avoid being used.

3. Don't let anyone tell you it is up to you to eat less meat and drive fewer miles to combat climate change.

As important as individual action can be with causes like this and making bigger change through lots of involvement, it is also physically impossible for any amount of people to slightly alter their lifestyles and save us from climate change. It is going to require drastic, systemic change from the same industries sharing their "reduce your waste" and "ways you can go green", and those companies will happily use marketing strategies to convince you they are doing their part without them having actually changed anything, like when BP started advertising their carbon footprint calculator. 

4. Because we are still discussing whether the problem exists, we are unable to widely discuss the best and more effective solutions.

While the author of the article to the left may think the debate happening between Greta Thunberg and Donald Trump is fake and more for show, there is no denying that any movement has more power when it has people supporting it. We need to move past discussing and convincing about the validity of the problem and start discussing the validity of solutions if we have any hope of tackling climate change - and that can start with you. Keep reading (from both sides of the aisle), keep learning, keep talking about climate change. Big things are hopefully coming in the US in the next couple months, but we have to do our best to keep up the momentum.