Conflict resolution exercise—solutions to climate change, part 2

Yesterday I discussed a statement produced in our July workshop, Friends Process: Responding to Climate Change. The emphasis was on conflict resolution solutions and Quaker processes that help—How do we begin talking about controversial social issues? How do we begin listening?

We focused on solutions to climate change—if you’re human, you probably object to at least one, and likely several, solutions the wonk reports (major reports out of the communities that begin with peer review) say are needed. As we said in our minute, it is important to spend more time in discernment of our values, and in finding ways to listen to scientists.

In one exercise, from Greg Craven’s What’s the Worst That Can Happen?, we explained which sources we trust and why. Consider who provides the information you trust: is it environmental groups? friends? science organizations? Heartland? The list of possibilities is long. Put them in order from most trustworthy to least. Now choose a couple of sources you really trust, say person A and organization B—explain what characteristics sources you find trustworthy have. How would I get to person A and organization B from your explanation of trustworthiness alone?

Is your description of sources the same for both the science of climate change and the solutions? If not, why?

You may find this very hard. My answer for which people and groups I trust are below, just to give an example.*

Leave comments: create a list of sources you trust on solutions to climate change, and explain your reasoning on the list, or one source, to the rest of us. Do you have different standards for the science of climate change, and solutions? (And while you’re there—have you ever learned from person A or organization B that you are wrong on an important issue?)

* Which sources do I trust?

I trust major reports that come out of the communities that begin with peer review. I don’t trust peer review by itself, as there are a lot of mistakes with the first article published. (Even with peer review, there are a lot of mistakes in good journals; some less good journals only seem to review that your check is good.)

After an idea has been introduced, the idea will be considered, seasoned, and challenged by others. Often the same experiment is done again by others, or the idea is tested with a very different approach. Government agencies, such as NOAA and NASA, often act as a higher layer of review. Even more review is done at the level of National Academy of Sciences and Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. If scientists disagree with conclusions at that level, they will often say so in Science. I trust these ideas, not as final Truth, but as the best we know at present—it is a fair bet that the conclusions will hold up better over time than ideas which haven’t undergone this kind of challenge. I trust this process because I see so much real challenge to new ideas; ideas have to prove themselves. I trust this process because ideas which are found to be schlock disappear from the scientific discussion.

In addition to high level reports, I trust a few scientists highly respected both within and outside their fields to accurately characterize scientific understanding, to include the nuances, as well as what is not known. They might be heads of national labs, or elected to prominent positions, such as president of American Association for the Advancement of Science. Being chosen often to co-lead prominent committees for groups such as National Academy of Sciences and President’s Committee of Advisers on Science and Technology is yet another sign of respect. Or sometimes I just hear that particular scientists are well-esteemed by their colleagues.

I trust lay people who get their information pretty much from the above sources.

I have a very different category which I call “listening on climate change”. If a non-scientist tells me they care about climate change, I want to know what solution they accept for climate change that they did not accept when they first began to worry. If they haven’t added any new solutions outside those favored by their tribe (for some this might be a steep cost on greenhouse gases, for others it’s nuclear power and fracking), my heart doesn’t hear them talking about climate change but about solutions they favor.

Do these wonk sources ever show me where I have been wrong? Yes, at much more than the nuance level: on the importance of climate change, for one, and on the safety and importance of nuclear power, genetically modified foods, and carbon capture and storage. And more. If I am never wrong on important issues, what are the odds that I am listening?

Part 1 Quaker workshop minute on climate change
Part 3 Another conflict resolution exercise—solutions to climate change, in which individuals take positions on different solutions, and explain to the others.

One Response to “Conflict resolution exercise—solutions to climate change, part 2”

  1. Ted Lapis says:

    I believe many people would understand more about climate change if projections for max & min temperature range changes were provided, instead of average temperatures. The oceans are a great sink for average temperatures that distort the meaning for individuals living on the surface. Warmer seas will not only provide much of the rise in sea levels, but they will change many aspects of our planet’s ecosystem. Helping people to understand how climate change will increase stress for all living beings is easier to understand when the full range of reasonably expected temperatures is extrapolated. Even more people will be reached when people take good numbers and tell stories, write books, and make movies about likely results.