Steve Hopkins Web Pages

Conversations with Streetman (your local man in the street)

horizontal line


I'm interested in the climate change conversation with the so-called 'man in the street', (I know, should be 'person in the street')... the taxi drivers, van drivers, the people who come on like they've got all the answers. My apologies to all persons in those easily-stereotyped jobs who do possess humility and self-awareness.

Getting the message through to educated and scientifically-literate persons is relatively easy; such people are the low-hanging fruit for the growing Extinction Rebellion (XR) movement. However, I have recently been dismayed to find that amongst my more distant acquaintances and relatives are people who think that climate change might be a hoax, or exaggerated. These people really do think that they know better than the 15,364 climate scientists who have issued the stark 'Scientists Warning to Humanity 2017: second notice'. The  signatories of the latter report included around 50% of the living Nobel laureates, and many distinguished professors, heads of Nasa etc.

When challenged on the scientific evidence, these people tend to respond with inaccurate (i.e. plain wrong) pseudo-science that has been obtained from denialist sites. These people don't have the intellectual tools to distinguish one report from another. They are up against denialist guff that has been cleverly designed to appeal to their fears and emotions, funded and disseminated widely by organisations often funded by the oil industry. Furthermore, there is a depressing lack of trust of 'experts'. People have told me that "all scientists just say what their paymasters want them to say". For instance climatologists are allegedly just making up climate change just to get more grant money!! Watch climatologist Stephen Schneider take on a room full of climate sceptics (40 minutes) and then despair (you, not him). Better still, don't bother: here's the punchline - his gentle, careful, evidence-backed science changed the opinion of only one person in an audience of 52 sceptics.

So how is this battle for hearts and minds to proceed? I don't know. I'm thinking about it! Presenting the science more clearly and more widely should be part of the answer, but I'm not sure it's going to influence streetman and his chums.

Perhaps we need something more like a well-designed advertising campaign that will scare the living daylights out of people, particularly in the worst-offending first-world countries. The idea that we must avoid scaring people because they will panic is wrong. As Greta Thunberg said "I don't want you to be hopeful; I want you to panic. I want you to feel the fear I feel every day. And then I want you to act. I want you to act as if your house was on fire. Because it is."

Greta Thunberg

Greta Thunberg speech to world 'influencers' at Davos January 2019 (3 minutes)


NB Thank God I have 'Streetman' to put me right: He can see right through the scientist's lies...or so he thinks. He patiently explained to me that Greta has been brain-washed by some nebulous conspiracy of Al Gore and some EU bureaucrats, whose aim is to control us all through their new 5G network. Yea, right, streetman, keep up the excellent research. the way streetman, that's sarcasm, in case you're not sure. Keep your tin foil hat on.


More pages and links