Ask a climate scientist

In this new column, our resident climate scientist, Carl Mears, will answer your most pressing questions about climate. Carl is a member of our board.

First up:


I’ve heard the best way to change things at speed and scale is policy, policy, policy. I am too young to vote. My voting uncle doesn’t believe in climate change. What can I say to him to stop him from voting? #electiondayisdecember6th


Well, if you’re part of a Russian intelligence organization, you could try their method. Just talk about how the system is “all rigged”, and voting “doesn’t matter”. BUT, if you are just a regular American that cares about where the country is going, this is probably not the best approach. I would try to find some common ground with your uncle. Does he hate paying lots of money for electricity? Point out that going solar can save him money. Does he hate buying oil from certain foreign countries? An electric car can help with that. Is he worried about toxic pollution? Many low-carbon technologies reduce air and water pollution, so they are worth pursuing even if climate change turns out to be a “hoax”. BTW, it isn’t. My hope is that by finding common ground, we can start to persuade people to support low-carbon policies. Also, register to vote as soon as you’re old enough! And even if you can’t vote, you CAN volunteer with political campaigns. My daughter (now 15) started making political calls when she was 12 and spent several weekends last fall walking neighborhoods in Modesto to get out the vote!

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4 replies
  1. Jeff Mathias
    Jeff Mathias says:

    Okay Carl, I am so impressed with this answer – I so agree that to move towards the middle is where change happens – and you suggestion to avoid preaching and change the dialog is perfect.

    Thanks for this.


  2. Steve Birdlebough
    Steve Birdlebough says:

    “… buying oil from foreign countries.” ??? I hear we are producing more than enough oil right here!
    We need to urge climate deniers to be practical and we need facts that they can’t dispute.

  3. Rich
    Rich says:

    Carl, I am writing a book about climate change and would like to include an estimate of how many trees used for lumber a person would need to plant, let mature to the usual harvest time of 40 to 50 years and then cut for lumber that it would take to sequester enough CO2 in long-lived structural lumber to capture as much CO2 as taking a cross-country flight would emit. I have tried to figure it out but don’t have enough time to complete the exercise. Do you have an answer?


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