The Four Horsemen of the Climate-pocalypse
I do not believe I need to make the case that climate change is real, and that its consequences will be dire for us all if we do not take action against it. I feel that the climate science is fairly well settled on the reality of the situation we are in. If this is not the case, then I am afraid this article is not for you, although, I would hope you continue to read on if nothing else to see where I am wrong. If you are on the opposite side of the case of climate change, then read on to find out about the kinds of people we are up against. So the article is based on discussing the 4 kinds of people who actually oppose climate solutions from taking place and how to deal with them.
The Capitalist Class: These people are part of the root cause of climate change. These are the CEOS who run companies, and politicians who front for them, that destroy the world. They know they are doing this, they would not be making the kinds of money they do on pure ignorance. And yet, despite this, they are continued to the making of profit and the burning of the planet. For the capitalist, the problem is that they value their profits over the long term sustainability of the planet. They have made so much money already, and yet trapped by their wealth, they are stuck into the cycle of production and ultimately, this will destroy the planet. It is important to mention, that this is not entirely a rational decision.
Imagine for a moment if you are a CEO. If you do not meet the demands of your shareholders, you will be replaced. You have to meet their demands, and they are divorced from the reality of their choices. If the factory you manage pollutes a lake, these people, worlds away, will not care unless it affects them. So, as a CEO, regardless of your own moral positions, you either have to do whatever you need to meet shareholder demands or you lose your job. And because shareholders always expect greater returns on their investment, you will invariably be incentivised to behave in bad ways. From the top, this way of thinking propagates downwards until it actually causes harm to the society at large.
These people use their wealth to influence politics in their favour. They are absolutely not going to vote away their wealth. And if they are the most able to influence the political system, then how could they be convinced to give up their wealth (and the systems that produce it) for the betterment of the planet when as the wealthiest, they are the most sheltered from the consequences of climate change.
At this point, there really is no other thing to do but to revolt against them. If Smaug the dragon could only be taken down by the aim of Bard, then the dragons of capitalism that horde the world's wealth, can only be taken down by a mobilisation of the proletariat. Needless to say, right now, there is not much we can do about them (for now at least).
The first of the actually actionable group, conservatives are people who typically do not believe in climate change for largely one of two reasons. The first is that they doubt the science (without being able to reliably contest it) or believe the propaganda surrounding it that it is some kind of Chinese plot (China is the current enemy but it could be anyone really). The crux of their issue, other than their dominance of political and propaganda machines, is that conservatives do not believe in motivations other than power. Appeals to them based on reason, or empathy, do not work. That is why a large part of the climate activism has not worked. They are part of the nations and systems that cause the problem, and it is in their best interest (to maintain their power) to continue to go along with the system. The USA military is one of the biggest polluters on the planet, but the conservatives who support it, would rather let someone else die than admit the USA uses it military to further its imperialist agenda.
But here is the thing, since conservatives value power, it is actually possible to reason with them. The trick, is to convince them that climate change is a deliberate threat to them which they do not believe (or rather are conditioned to believe).
A typical line of attack would be to appeal to their traditionalism. Their perceived way of life is being destroyed by the changing climate. Everything they appreciate, will actually be removed from their ability to afford or experience; try raising cattle for burgers in a world that is mostly flooded for example. So what you need to do, is convince them that largely, they are the dupes. That is, when the axe of climate change falls, the billionaires they serve, will throw them off the boat with the rest of us. This will rile them up, and get them to fixate (perhaps) on the problem. On the other hand, it might turn ostensible fascists into ecofascists. That is a discussion for another time.
Liberals are, for the most part, the hardest part to personally deal with. They know climate change is real, for the most part, and they agree it poses a threat. However, they will cling for dear life to capitalism and consistently insist on individual solutions to what is a collective problem. For example, the US state of California, considered by many to be a "liberal" state, went to great lengths to pass a plastic straw ban. That same state, has not yet passed any regulations or laws limiting the environmental destruction of corporations working in the state.
The problem is that liberals are more concerned with feeling like they are doing something, than actually doing something. They crave the aesthetics of being morally superior but are absolutely stuck to the system of capitalism. So the most they can ever offer, is an ineffectual bandaid. The contributions of individuals is minor compared to the real cost of the wider systemic industries like energy or agriculture. Individual choices will not change these industries in time (if at all) and thus, liberals tend not to be able to offer any real solutions to climate change.
Dealing with liberals should be a simple process. They already know climate change is real, so what is the issue? Well, the problem is they know a little but not actually a lot. Your approach when dealing with them, has to focus on two things. The first is to convince them that existing liberal solutions will not work. Partially, you could blame conservatives although this is not an ideal or honest solution. In reality, the best approach is to demonstrate in empirical values, that their solutions do not work. They need to be shown that, for example, individual CO2 emissions relate directly to wealth and that they, are more likely to contribute magnitudes more CO2 by their daily lives, than dozens of villages in poor countries. Either you convince them, or they turn into fascists. It is honestly a mixed bag but it is always worth a shot.
The other approach is to be more forceful. Demonstrating how shortsighted or naive their belief is with regards to the opinions of climate scientists, is a great approach. Climate scientists have maintained the problems of the current system liberals defend and thus, if they truly claim to know the science, then they cannot abide by the current system. Either this hypocrisy exposes their flawed thinking and moves them more to the left (by offering them actual examples of the good solutions offered by socialism), or they double down and become fascists.
The last of the bunch, and by far, the hardest to deal with. Unlike the others, the Doomer is fundamentally driven by existential despair. They are aware of climate change, but are fundamentally in an abyss. They see no hope in facing climate change, because to them, there are no solutions that can be implemented (if they even believe in a solution at all) and the outcome of this belief, is just an existential abyss. It is a kind of despair driven entirely by being in a privileged position. The reality of the doomer position, is that they are people in developed countries who do not yet, have to face the reality of climate change. Despite the plight of people in the developed world facing climate disaster for decades, those people continue to fight.
The doomer on the other hand, is only now being made aware of the coming problem, and is completely unwilling to change and thus, while being comfortable, just sits down and waits.
Honestly, dealing with doomers is basically impossible. Whereas you can the others, very little reason can shake the existential despair that defines a doomer. The best thing to do, is to keep them from spreading the despair to others. Short of a massive paradigm change, a doomer will not shift their positions and I suspect a large part of this is capitalist realism. For them, it is easier to imagine the end of the world than the end of capitalism, and so, there is no way to shift them from this ledge with calls to action.
We cannot deal with 1 and 4; not normally at least through conversations. The liberals and conservatives however, have to be dealt with. They can be dealt with, and reasoned with to varying degrees but the point is to push them to the left as soon as we can, so that their opposition to our movement, becomes less.