“All truth passes through three stages. First it is ridiculed. Second it is opposed. Third it is accepted as being self evident.” —Arthur Schopenhauer
A question I’m often asked by the media when I’m interviewed about my book is the title of this post: Do we really need another book on global warming? Journalists refer to the many books that can be found in stores or on the internet, and mention former Vice President Al Gore and Dr. David Suzuki by name, and wonder whether I have anything further to add to what’s already been said on the subject.
I have great respect for both Mr. Gore and Dr. Suzuki, and they have helped educate and inspire me in my pursuit to understand the climate crisis fully. But I don’t believe I’m in the majority here. Most people I encounter seem either unconvinced and skeptical, or they believe there’s a problem but aren’t motivated to do very much about it. When I ask around to those who fall into the unconvinced and skeptical category, sometimes the answer comes back that they don’t completely trust a former politician in the case of Mr. Gore, or a liberal-minded scientist with a PhD in the case of Dr. Suzuki. The concern they express is that these individuals have a hidden agenda, and that filters are needed to properly interpret what they have to say. It disappoints me to hear such responses because I believe these men to be honest in their motives, and that they are simply trying to open people’s eyes to the situation our planet is facing.
My attitude about having added another book on global warming to the shelves is simple, and I can best explain it by way of analogy. Many of my patients are smokers who would love to quit if they could. There are many methods they can use if they want to try: quitting cold turkey, acupuncture, hypnosis, and laser therapy are all available options. Then there are the medications they can take, such as nicotine supplements (patch, gum, lozenge, etc…), Wellbutrin, and Champix (Chantix in the US). Yet despite so many options, most smokers are unsuccessful in their attempts to quit and stay quit. If the vast majority who attempted to quit were successful, I would argue that another method to help smokers end their addiction would be unnecessary. But since most available methods aren’t successful, I’ll gladly welcome the next new method that comes along, and I’d never suggest that we don’t need it simply because of the lack of success we’ve achieved thus far.
I apply that same line of thinking to my having written another book on the climate crisis. If the majority of people in the world believed that the problems our planet is facing are real, and especially what problems it will be facing in the generations to come, and were all making major efforts to help minimize their emissions, then I would argue another book on the subject isn’t necessary. But that’s not the case. We need as many methods as possible to educate the public on this very important issue that we’re all facing. Ignoring the facts won’t make the problem go away. Education and understanding are the keys to reaching solutions.
If some people aren’t going to be convinced by former Mr. Gore because he was a politician, or because he’s a member of one particular political party instead of another—even though he has already won a Nobel Peace Prize honouring his efforts—that can’t be helped. And if others can’t be convinced by what Dr. Suzuki has to say, even though he has dedicated decades to environmental issues and to educating the public about them, what can be done to change that? If you mistrust someone because of a hidden agenda, whether real or perceived, it’s very difficult to eliminate that lack of trust from the equation.
The book I wrote, “Comprehending the Climate Crisis,” speaks to a different demographic. I wrote the book I wish I could have read first when I started to dedicate serious effort to understanding the problem. My book is written for people who are open to learning the facts, who want to understand the whole picture in its context and not only listen to the brief soundbites they hear from the media on a daily basis. It’s written for the average citizen who doesn’t necessarily know all of the pertinent science but wants to understand the problem more thoroughly. Obviously my method of education won’t appeal to everyone just like Mr. Gore’s and Dr. Suzuki’s methods don’t appeal to everyone, but I believe that every little bit helps, and the more people who become educated on the facts surrounding global warming and the climate crisis, the more people who will actually begin to do something about it.
I look forward to the day when another book on the climate crisis will truly be redundant because it will be preaching to a vast choir of people making a difference. But until that day comes, if some people out there won’t listen to the politician or the PhD, perhaps they’ll listen to the doctor.