There is an influential school of thought that says if someone knows the truth, he will accept it. The environmental and social justice movement largely subscribes to this, and thus the tremendous focus on events that raise awareness, from candlelight vigils to An Inconvenient Truth.
However, it is certainly also true that you cannot change someone, he can only change himself. He can change, but he must choose to change. Unfortunately, many deniers are not open to change, and they reject any “truth” that you try and persuade them with. You can lead a horse to water, but if he wants to die of thirst there’s not much you can do.
You need to worry more about saving your own soul. Lead, and they will follow – or perish. Their choice. But environmentalists and social justice people put far too much faith in education and awareness-raising. It only works if someone is open, and many are not.
So what are you going to do? At the moment, the eco-movement seems to me insane, because it keeps doing the same thing over-and-over – Rally! – Protest march! – Write your MP! – while the results are not changing. How about something new, something that will get the attention of people who are not going to screenings of An Inconvenient Truth any time soon?
How about charging deniers and their paymasters with crimes against humanity? Or just plain old endangerment? The deniers are obstructing action on a serious threat – how about treason? Terrorism, at least.
Seriously. Some people are just not open to attempts at “raising their awareness.” Communication must be in ways that they understand and cannot ignore. Charge deniers with something; there must be many choices for people endangering others. Put that on the news: No more Mr. Nice Guy.
Think of it as a different way to educate people. The deniers have no credibility and they will be demolished in a court of law. The only witnesses they can call are the type any judge would throw out: paid shills and obvious cranks. The prosecution can call practically any climate scientist on the planet. Denier supporters will be exposed to the real evidence – no chance for the deniers to smear and evade.
Still – there is no guarantee the dupes will be swayed. They have a powerful psychological connection to believing their current worldview. You can bring the truth to someone, but you cannot make him accept it. That said, a major trial would break through for many people, seeing the deniers discredited and locked up. Some would remain dupes, claiming their denier heroes were railroaded, but many will accept the word of a judge over that of a denier.
Do something different, and get different results. Forget raising awareness, rallies, demonstrations, protest marches, candlelight vigils, and all other symbolic gestures. There is a time for action, and that time is now. Stop symbolising and get DOING.