October 9, 2012
Since I’ve been writing this column I’ve tried to follow a schedule of topics that I believe are important and interesting to our industry. I create the schedule late in the fall and as the year progresses gather information on a topic in order to share pertinent and technical data that I believe is important. Admittedly, something occurs that catches my attention and I go astray. My schedule of topics remains incomplete. This year, besides health and safety, carbon footprint and a few others, I intended to cover bioplastics and recycling and synthetic pressure sensitive adhesives. With two columns left for the year everything would work out perfectly. Unfortunately, it’s not going to happen. Here’s why: two activities that are very important to me and that have distinct correlation to the problems that we face in our industry is gathering a groundswell and begs the question, “Did you get the message?” They are focused on environmental issues, climate change and energy. While I have written on these subjects before I hope to bring a different slant to them and make the message less confrontational. At the end of the day it’s all about focus and what is important. It’s about how the message is delivered so it makes sense in every aspect of our personal and professional lives.
Sometimes in my frustration I want to shake people who don’t believe in climate change or renewable energy. I suppose it’s my intolerance for those who don’t believe, because in the case of climate change we have scientific fact developed by thousands of scientists proving – without a doubt – that it is occurring. Trust me, they can’t all be wrong. My intolerance is directed to those who base their belief on “ideological chauvinism” or a “reflective anti-science bias.” My anxiety and frustration grows and I find myself arguing. The ongoing debates don’t bring solutions, they merely bring confrontation. This isn’t the right approach. The right approach is to persuade change with patience, facts and respect for the other opinion. A great example of this is the story of Katharine Hayhoe, a renowned Texas Tech University climate scientist, who is also a deeply religious Christian, and her husband, an evangelical minister who just plain didn’t believe in climate change. The encounter led Hayhoe into a sort of “scientific ministry.” Hayhoe’s story demonstrates that even the most cynical non-believers can be persuaded by clear facts, deep patience and genuine respect. Ultimately, these characteristics of listening and humility gain the day.