I was raised by a businessman. My father taught me climate change was an elaborate hoax fabricated by Democrats to justify the government's ever-expanding reach. “The ‘science’ behind climate change is manufactured by leftists and funded by progressive organizations,” he would say. He denied the human link to climate change and its existence altogether.
I believed him.
But when I was 15, I overheard a classmate talking about climate change and its link to industrialization. He argued that the private sector must be further regulated to resolve the crisis. I argued with him, but he was persuasive and provided me information to prove climate change's existence and severity.
Despite my skepticism, my curiosity got the better of me. I began to process the data. After I examined those few sources, I explored other sources in the interest of finding a contradictory viewpoint to confirm my bias — my father’s bias — that climate change is indeed a hoax.
But a 97% scientific consensus that climate change is real and caused by humans is hard to ignore.
I found no credible evidence that climate change is a hoax. I grew convinced of the existence and severity of the climate crisis.
With this newfound knowledge, I shared my findings with my father. Despite what he drilled into me, he was rather open-minded. Debating became our ritual, particularly during our drives to and from school. That's part of what I love about him: his willingness to have his ideas challenged.
Climate issues took up more and more of our time. With each discussion, I grew better at arguing my perspective. One night, my father told me that our talks led him to watch a deforestation documentary, Forbidden Forest, to understand where I was getting my information. The film provided the final points to persuade him.
This sparked a turning point for me. If I could change my father's mind on climate change, I could convince others.
First, I had to understand my father’s belief.
My father denied climate change because Democrats were the only ones offering solutions. Those solutions involved government takeover. Many Republicans felt disputing the existence of climate change was the only refuge they had from an ever-expanding government apparatus. As I matured and learned, I recognized the efficacy of climate change solutions align with the private market, entrepreneurship, individualism and free enterprise as opposed to restriction, nationalization and the inevitable quashing of economic prosperity that always follows.
My generation must carry the torch and combat America’s crises with reasonable treatments that coincide with our unique values and never be tempted (or frightened) into permanently selling our freedoms to politicians in exchange for hollow promises.
It's a losing battle to continue to deny the scientific reality. We must summon the courage to face the climate change issue, provide market-based solutions that coincide with American values, and regain the youth’s trust. Otherwise, we will continue to lose our country’s future to the alluring sirens of socialism.
Lance Lawson is a senior at Bayshore Christian High School in Tampa and serves as a county youth chair for republicEn.org, which promotes conservative free-market solutions to address climate change.