This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2017, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

A surprising 7 percent of adults believe that chocolate milk comes from brown cows. (I am not making this up.)

An acknowledged 6 percent of adults believe the Apollo moon landings were a hoax.

A shocking one third of people who have heard of the Holocaust believe it was a hoax or at least exaggerated.

Most disturbingly, 55 percent of Utahns and 52 percent of Americans believe either that climate change is a hoax or that humans do not meaningfully contribute to it.

NASA is among those reporting that 97 percent of scientists who study climate change and believe that it is both occurring and is due largely to human activities, principally from our use of CO2 emitting fossil fuels. Peer-reviewed studies have repeatedly concluded that this estimate, 97 percent, is meaningfully correct. Climate change is not a hoax.

Some who believe in anthropogenic climate change nonetheless argue that it doesn't matter if everyone believes because we can all agree that caring for the environment is important regardless of our views on the science.

Oh, that this were the case.

First, it is important to remember that we don't all agree that caring for the environment is important. While clean water is essential, there is broad disagreement among policy makers about how to ensure clean water pours from our taps. Some would clearly trade away some clean water regulations to preserve jobs.

Second, even if we did all agree that we shouldn't pollute water and air, without agreement that CO2 is creating an existential risk to human life on the planet, it can be argued that CO2 emissions are healthy for plants and are not toxic to humans. In fact, the level of CO2 in the air is not likely to reach levels that are directly toxic to humans.

Third, failure to globally agree and act upon reasonable measures to dramatically reduce carbon emissions over the next 30 years will irrevocably damage the environment, making large areas of inhabited land uninhabitable. Hundreds of millions of people could be displaced. The impact of Syrian refugees on global politics and policies in recent years makes clear that the developed world is not ready for tens of millions more.

Fourth, before you glibly think to yourself that the impact on Utah will be minimal because we are not at risk, think again. Utah is likely to lose its annual snowpack. Losing the tourism trade will be the least of our worries then.

You can choose to believe what you want, but rejecting climate change because it doesn't square with your politics is really no different than believing chocolate milk comes from brown cows, that the Apollo moon landings were faked or that the Holocaust was a hoax.

Devin Thorpe, Salt Lake City, is founder of the Your Mark on the World Center and is the author of "Adding Profit by Adding Purpose" and other books and is a regular Forbes contributor.

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