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          We need to get ready to ask every candidate for Congress, in 2024, whether they actually understand what global warming is, why it is happening, and why we need to try to reduce it.

          And, since most politicians learn to deflect and sidestep difficult questions, we need to figure out the best ways to ask those questions, in ways that will get useful answers.

     One of the first things voters should ask, of any candidate for Congress, is a basic, first-level question:

“How much do you actually understand,

about how and why CO2 emissions are changing the climate?”

          However, if phrased in that way, it sounds both confrontational, and non-specific; so, it likely would be off-putting, to quite a few people in many audiences, and the answers it would get would be along the lines of, "Actually, I know a lot about it, but that's not what we're here to talk about, so don't ask me about any specifics. Yes, I think we should do something about it, but I don't choose to say what. Not during this campaign. But, I promise I'll work on it, if I'm elected."

          So . . .  the real question becomes, “How can good questions be asked, in the most useful and productive ways?”

          We hereby ask concerned voters, and environmentalists, to spend some serious time, thinking about (and, if possible, testing and trying out) how to ask the question posed above, in ways that will get the most useful and revealing responses, from political candidates who likely do not really understand climate change, but who DO have the skill of dancing around questions, and deflecting and side-stepping them, and changing the subject (or at least the focus), without ever really answering the question that was asked.

          Here is one way that we would propose, to cut through that type of evasion, and get a useful answer. During a campaign event, a voter in the audience (or, a debate moderator) can approach a microphone that has been set up to ask questions, and ask this type of question:

     “Mr/Ms _____ [candidate], many voters – especially young voters – are very concerned about global warming. Rather than simply asking about your position on it, they would like to know whether, and to what extent, you actually understand what it is, and how and why it happens, and why scientists say it is a huge threat to all of us. So, I would like to start out this line of questions with a basic starting point question. Have you ever noticed that, if you leave a car sitting out in the sun for more than an hour, during the summer, with all the windows rolled up, that . . . when you open the doors again, the air inside the car, is hotter than the air outside the car? And, have you ever noticed the types of cardboard or reflective windshield screens which people put up, between the windshield and the dashboard, when they park a car that will have to sit out in the sun? Have you ever noticed those, and do you have any idea of how and why they work?”

          (The questioner pauses, and the candidate answers. It is VERY doubtful that ANY candidate will claim, “No, I have never noticed any of those things," because that would be an admission that s/he is severely dense, and non-observant. The much more likely answer will be along the lines of, “Sure. I’ve seen that, lots of time. I’d guess everyone here in the audience has experienced that.” And, an affirmative answer will then lead to the real question:

         “All right, then. Would you please explain, to the audience, in your own words, so that they can gauge how much you actually understand about global warming . . . WHY . . . does the air . . . INSIDE a car . . . get so much HOTTER . . . than the air OUTSIDE the car . . . if a car sits out in the sun . . . on a summer day . . . with all the windows rolled up?”

          Okay, then. That question poses, and articulates, the central and basic problem of global warming . . . because what is happening to the earth’s atmosphere, is directly “analogous” (or similar, comparable, parallel, or any other suitable word) to what happens, inside a car that is left to sit in the sun with all the windows rolled up. If someone can understand why a car does what it does, when left to sit in the sun, then he or she can understand why the same thing is happening, to land and ocean surfaces.

          And, it is NOT a trick question. A direct and straightforward explanation (with pictures) of why car interiors get hot is HERE. And, that explanation is offered – up front, face-up, on the table – in the sincere hope that it will be passed around, to political candidates who are getting prepared to try to answer questions at public appearances or debates. Very briefly, it involves infra-red light wavelengths, which carry heat. Those IR wavelengths are created, when the dashboard, seats, and other solid items inside a car get warmed up, by visible light wavelengths entering the car, through the windshield and windows. The problem is, unlike the visible wavelengths, the longer wavelengths of heat-carrying infra-red radiation cannot travel back out of the car, through the type of glass that is used to make car windows and windshields. Instead, those heat-carrying IR wavelengths are reflected back into the car, by the inside surfaces of the type of glass that is used to make car windshields and windows, in ways that trap that heat-carrying radiation inside the car; and, those trapped IR waves go back and hit the dashboard, seats, etc., again, making them even hotter. That is why it gets so hot, inside a car sitting in the sun with the windows rolled up. There are at least a dozen ways that this effect can be demonstrated, to an audience of non-scientists, in ways which anyone can watch, experience, and come to better understand, if they actually see it for themselves; a couple of examples are described and illustrated, in the "Good Science" section of this website (see button, below).

          Returning to the main point of this strategic proposal, people who care about global warming need to find ways to put any serious candidate for Congress directly on the spot, and find ways to let voters know: (i) which candidates actually understand the problem; and, (ii) which candidates genuinely care about it, enough to commit to trying to help reduce the problem (as distinct from simply making campaign promises). It's a challenge; however, once people recognize it as a worthwhile challenge, and realize that there are good ways to do it, they can figure out how.

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