13 March 2010

The Bus Driving Climate Change Denier (aka The Climate Change Denying Bus Driver)

I'm one of those people who doesn't think of the smart and sassy comeback comment until the idiot who said something stupid (or hurtful) is long gone. That happened to me again recently and I could just kick myself!

We took public transit to the ferry terminal to get home from the climate change conference the other day. Our bus driver was a fun man — friendly and quite jocular — and in a relaxed mood, perhaps because it was Friday. He cracked jokes practically all the way from the bus station to the ferry terminal, and had all the (awake) passengers chuckling.

Once he hit the highway, he began a quiz. How long was the Hundred Years War? (One hundred and twelve years.) Where do Chinese gooseberries grow? (In New Zealand; it's another name for kiwifruit.) What colour is the black box in an airplane cockpit? (Orange.) And then, having warmed us up and made us believe he was a kindly and grandfatherly fellow who loves people and just likes to have fun, he asked, "What year was the warmest on record?"

I knew at that moment what was going to come next. And it did. (1934, according to ClimateAudit.whatever, he told us.) He started slamming people "who fly around giving us all a Ride, with a capital R." "Talk about an inconvenient spoof," he carried on.

Well, folks, 1934 was the warmest year on record IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA ONLY (not globally) and only by a fraction. See Real Climate's 1934 and all that for an explanation.

And ClimateAudit.whatever is the handiwork of Arch Canadian Skeptic, Steve I-Won't-Dignify-Him-by-Mentioning-His-Name-Here (though you'll read about him at the Real Climate weblink above).

But I didn't remember all that or figure out how to respond to the driver until after he'd discharged us all and driven away. So, my redress? I'm going to write to the public transit company suggesting that their drivers could use some professional development on the science of global warming and climate change (or on keeping their mouths shut — or at least their loud speakers off — when they don't know what they're talking about). It was really sad to me that someone who really seemed to care about people (at one transfer point, he actually ran with a passenger to make sure he caught the right bus on time) doesn't care about the risks and impacts of climate change.

In the meantime, I'm sending out some compassion to this man's grandchildren (and all the grandchildren in the world), because this grandpa isn't helping to safeguard the future for them. In fact, I haven't met very many grandpas — bus drivers or not — who are.

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I would appreciate hearing your thoughts or questions on this post or anything else you've read here. What is your take on courage and compassion being an important part of the solution to the climate change emergency?