The drought and extreme heat that has bedeviled much of the United States and other parts of the world this summer has brought some changes in perceptions about global warming and climate change that could be key to selling green and energy efficiency technologies.
And it may involve a technique used in mediation.
I was once sent to a management conference for a magazine where I worked, and the presenter said mediators, who help settle disputes among parties, often work by getting each party to articulate the others’ point of view. There were many doubtful looks in the audience, especially at my own table, where several often-feuding department heads were seated. The presenter encouraged us to try to articulate opposing points of view and see how it worked. He said what often happens is that each party starts to argue for the opposing viewpoint!
I doubted that many of us would try such a thing, let alone that it would work. And I certainly never thought that any of us would ever argue for an opposing point of view. But I soon found myself in a minor debate with another manager, which was not an unusual occurrence, and I remembered the mediator’s trick.
I gulped inwardly and articulated his point of view. He did the same. And soon, believe it or not, we were arguing for the others’ position. We realized what had happened and laughed. We still had some philosophical differences, but we understood each other better. And we found we could be allies on many issues.
What does this have to do with selling green tech and energy efficiency systems?
I believe we may be at that flex point, where believers and skeptics of climate change are articulating or even embracing what could be considered opposing views.
Republicans Now Believe in Climate Change
A recent New York Times column on the nations’ extreme heat reported that belief in global warming now crosses party affiliations and likely conservative and liberal states.
According to a survey conducted in July by the University of Texas, 70 percent of Americans believe the climate is changing, compared to 65 percent in March, and only 15 percent say it isn’t. Party affiliation continues to divide public opinion, but today most Republicans, 53 percent, believe in climate change, as do 72 percent of independents and 87 percent of Democrats.
It’s big news that a majority of Republicans, who have traditionally been skeptical of global warming, now believe in climate change. The numbers aren’t great, but it’s a start.
And although we’re not supposed to equate weather with climate change, people in drought-stricken areas are seeing the effects of higher temperatures and drawing conclusions. Many scientists also say the drought and extreme temps are likely partly caused by global warming.
Climate Scientists Cite History
Some climate scientists predict that drought in the southwest United States in particular could extend for decades. Researchers from Northern Arizona University’s School of Earth Science and Environmental Sustainability cite evidence of a megadroughts throughout history and a long drought that occurred around the 12th century, long before fossil fuels were burned. (Though they maintain that climate change is the likely current culprit.)
It can seem ironic that climate scientists, the vast majority of whom support the correlation between rising greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and the burning of fossil fuels, are saying that long droughts could follow historic trends in the planet’s climate patterns. This recalls claims often made by climate change deniers, some of whom assert that rising temps represent normal eras of climate patterns.
So normally skeptical Republicans are becoming more convinced about global warming and global warming-believing scientists are citing long-term global climate patterns to help predict prolonged drought?
The climate scientists are certainly not conceding to the deniers’ viewpoint, but without realizing it both these parties could be starting to understand an opposing side’s viewpoint. And that can only mean progress when considering the need to act on climate change.
Just remember that a belief in climate change is not only way to sell someone green tech or energy efficiency services. You should still target your pitch to your potential client. There are several different kinds of green consumers.
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