Polar Observation on Polarization

At St. Joan of Arc church Sunday morning, polar explorer Will Steger preached, as he said, “to the choir.” It’s a very liberal congregation.

He told of ice shelves crashing off Antarctica, the Northwest Passage opening up, rising ocean temperatures, starving bears and other global warming horrors.

But the most challenging thing he said wasn’t that we each need to reduce our own carbon footprint. It was his observation of how polarized the American public and our politicians are on dealing with the environment, and on so many other issues.

“We’re part of creating that divide,” he said, “by polarizing the other side.”

And our challenge, I took from him, is to stop it. Not stop global warming (which we need to do or our kids will pay a horrific price) but stop pushing people we disagree with away.

From the top of the world, Steger sees global warming as a human, not a scientific, problem. That’s perspective.

Hear it again. “We’re part of creating that divide,” he said, “by polarizing the other side.”

— Bruce Benidt

4 thoughts on “Polar Observation on Polarization

  1. Kung Fu says:

    So why is disagreeing with “the science” inherently polarizing?

    And what’s so bad about polarity?

    Gridlock is what’s saving the nation from Congress. Gridlock is saving Minnesotans from a full-blown DFL taxapalooza. Gridlock helped kill the Kiyoto debacle.

    Polarization isn’t inherently bad.

  2. jloveland says:

    Mr. Fu is right; democracy is DESIGNED to gridlock when there isn’t a strong consensus around the issue at hand.

    There has been no action on this issue primarily because Americans aren’t convinced yet. With only 30% believing that there is global warming AND it is caused by human activity, you wouldn’t expect a democracy to enact dramatic policy change to curtail human activity.

    So, I’m not convinced inaction is caused by people being mean to each other in the debate; it’s due to a lack of democratic consensus. Mr. Steger deserves credit for all his time in churches and rubber chicken dinners, but the debate is not won yet.

  3. bbenidt says:

    It’s a good point that we who believe that global warming is a runaway train also believe that we’re right. My wife says I often say things not in a “here’s my view” tone but in an “any sentient being would agree with what I say” tone. We forget that many sentient beings disagree, and our tone doesn’t help change any minds.

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