Ask a Scientist: how to deal with a climate change skeptic

Ask a Scientist: how to deal with a climate change skeptic

Carolyn Kormann for The New York Times - 17 November 2018

On a recent drizzly, cold Saturday, a climate scientist named Gisela Winckler was standing at Beach Ninety-fourth Street, in Rockaway, Queens. The ocean behind her was gray-green, uninviting, confused, the wind blowing hard onshore. A flock of surfers bobbed in the waves, a scattering of people strolled. Next to her, a huge black-and-orange L.E.D. roadwork sign flashed a series of messages: “climate denial kills”; “abolish coal colonialism”; “vote ecologically.” “I thought we would be getting a lot more questions, actually, about these specific messages,” Winckler said. “This one, for example, is pretty complicated.” The L.E.D. sign read “human agenda ahead.”

The sign, which was solar-powered, was part of “Climate Signals,” a citywide installation by the artist Justin Brice Guariglia, presented by the Climate Museum in partnership with the Mayor’s office. Winckler, in a red leather jacket, the wind whipping her long brown hair, was taking part in “Ask a Scientist,” an event co-hosted by the museum and Columbia University’s Earth Institute, where Winckler works. Other scientists were stationed at nine other roadwork signs, situated across the five boroughs, in prominent and iconic public spaces: the 1964 World’s Fair Unisphere, in Queens; a former illegal dumping ground in the Bronx; Governor’s Island. The scientists at each post had handouts with “climate-communication tips,” such as “How to deal with a climate skeptic.” (One suggestion: look for common ground, i.e., how “we all depend on the same planet for our survival, and all of us want a good outcome.”)

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