Science Is Boring: Advice For Communicating The Opposite

By Karyn:

We, as a global community, are facing the most interesting time in history. We have technology, communication and the ability to do more than Philip K. Dick or George Lucas could ever have imagined (even if their minds fused into the ultimate, super android brain). Yet, our challenges are great and serious global problems like climate change and energy production will require collaboration among the world’s people and our leaders.

We live in a wonder world born from impossible dreams, determination, art, kinship, and an indomitable human will. We face choices and possibilities more expansive that any other civilization in history. We have seen the ends of the universe, have traveled to the furthest depths of our oceans, and can access all of history in a moment (you might call this ‘Googling’).

At the same time, we face an abundance of information, opinion, and access that can lead to a flood. To even hope we can grasp at the understanding of truths we, sometimes, must dedicate our entire lives to specific phenomena.

My greatest passion lies in the study of our natural resources and how we use them. Not everyone cares about these issues and for those of us that do such disengagement can be bothersome. Yet, everyone has a right to their opinion and we can learn from those with whom we disagree. I ask you to continue reading and join me in a dialogue of our disagreements and common ground.

For those that have taken upon themselves the long, arduous effort to question and research climate change science, it’s important we remember where we started. All Americans have had to sit through basic science courses throughout our grade school years and for many that is as far as formal training goes.

When we engage in conversation about climate change, and we should, we must do our best to keep politics at our side and be careful to listen to opposing views with understanding. It’s common in the states to think that politics and beliefs are taboo talking points (unless you’re a dick on TV), but these things define us and we cannot know each other without communicating these details.

All we have to lose in conversation is our solitude

Each and every person on this planet can and should attempt to learn from one another. Every single argument, no matter it’s foundation, is important because it represents the person who holds it, the family they are apart of, and the circle of peers they inhabit. If I may go as far to say, every idea is a reflection of a unique and complex psychological ecosystem we can know nothing about unless we ask. Our ideas, lives, and experiences create a universe inside each of us that can only be explored through communication.

Most people, in terms of climate change, would rather not talk about it. They don’t want to hear lectures on science, much less about the carbon footprint embedded in their comfortable, daily routines. We’ve all grown an acquired taste for that which we are familiar with and changing those details can feel like more work than we’d gain in return.

I don’t know about you out there, but if you’re a supporter of green activism you know how annoying it can be to carry a canteen around all day, searching endlessly for a recycling bin while toting trash in your pockets like a dirty hippie… and you certainly know what the guilt feels like as you face some actions you simply cannot avoid, like buying cool stuff “Made in China.”

*No offense, China, it’s mostly the geographic distance your products have to travel to get to me that I’m bummed about, I promise. Labor laws too, maybe, but that’s your deal.

All we can do is our best and we should never make the Green Revolution out to be any less. By harassing people for their choices, blabbing scientific findings every time your friend landfills a paper cup, we become a burden to those we love and our relationships. That is not how we will reach those in limbo about climate change, nor how we will reach a point of deeper connection.

Instead, we should ask questions, get to know the story behind the drama we encounter. We should look deeper at those around us, and instead of talking, we should listen. If all else fails, we should simply lead by example and on occasion share the happiness we gain from doing things we believe are contributing to a greater cause. Now, I’m aware this isn’t easy and I slip up too, but remember:

We are all doing the best that we can

Not everyone has a connection with nature, but everyone enjoys company and clean air. We can invigorate those we love by taking them with us when we go on hikes or to the local park. We can suggest packing lunch and going for a walk over take-out or paying for meals that add up quickly. We can suggest working-out on a grassy hillside instead of a gym. We can suggest a mountaintop over a movie theatre. This, I swear by it, works every time, no matter the grumps the day has brought.

I’ve never taken a friend into nature without getting good conversation and great memories in return. Nature brings us closer to each other and closer to ourselves.

WARNING: Don’t take your resistant friends camping. A sleeping bag, canned beans, and mosquitoes aren’t for everyone.

I’ll conclude by saying only a little more (stick with me). It doesn’t take a scientist to recognize the way our seasons are changing and blending, or the way our trees and flowers are blooming differently. These are the things we can hope to comprehend and observe without any knowledge of plant biology, particle physics or pollution statistics.

We must learn from events like “Climategate” and understand that the implications of controversy are vast and wide-reaching. Most people don’t have the time or interest to engage in years long questioning, investigation and inquiry, so we depend on that which we hear in conversation, those we trust in the media, and that which helps us fit in among our peers.

We all want to be rebellious and the scientific institution, with all its complexity, exclusivity and eternal branching, is easy to reject. We, who consider ourselves a part of that community, must understand this. It wasn’t given the “ivory tower” title by accident.

Scientists must try to change the way we interact, by refocusing our discussion not on our reasoning, but on our inspirations. We have to remember our childhood marvel and excitement, igniting it anew in our work.

Photo: Karyn Boenker

When we speak we should explain where we come from, who first showed us the beauty in a sunset, a cloudy day, or a bird’s call. We have to shy away from hiding our beliefs, our feelings, and our truths or we risk being held down by the weight of our own gravity.

“Anyone who keeps the ability to see beauty never grows old.” Franz Kafka

Please share your thoughts, all are welcome and will receive a thoughtful response.

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