Sarah Ott once believed climate change was a hoax, but now she is passionate about the environment
Sarah Ott, a former climate change skeptic, shares her journey from doubting the science to becoming an advocate for clean energy and teaching the science of climate change to school students. Influenced by friends at church and a popular right-wing radio host, Ott’s perspective on climate change shifted dramatically, leading her to question her beliefs and seek out the truth. Now featured on the BBC 100 Women list, Ott’s story highlights the power of education and personal growth in changing one’s perspective on climate change.
A Childhood Love for Nature
Growing up as the granddaughter of coal miners in Pennsylvania, Ott had a strong connection to nature. Her family’s move to Florida and their Polish Catholic background further instilled in her a love for the environment. As a child, she spent countless hours outdoors and participated in community service by picking up litter in her neighborhood.
The Influence of Conservative Media
While living in Georgia and staying home to care for her children, Ott found solace in conservative radio shows, particularly those hosted by Rush Limbaugh. His controversial opinions, including the belief that climate change was a hoax, resonated with her. The lack of exposure to alternative viewpoints reinforced her skepticism about climate change, despite her background in science.
The Turning Point
Ott’s perspective began to shift when she tuned into NPR, a non-profit broadcaster known for its balanced reporting. The way they presented climate change differed greatly from the narratives she had heard on conservative radio. This newfound exposure to diverse perspectives made her question the validity of her previous beliefs and seek out alternative sources of information.
Leaving Behind a Community
Leaving behind her conservative social circle was a challenging decision for Ott. As a member of a Protestant church group in the US South, she disagreed with their anti-intellectual views and their stance on issues like gay rights. However, they were her friends and support system. After the 2016 US presidential elections, Ott realized it was time to find a new community that aligned with her evolving beliefs.
Embracing Climate Advocacy
As Ott delved deeper into her newfound understanding of climate change, she became involved with non-partisan groups such as Citizens’ Climate Lobby, which advocates for climate solutions. She also joined the National Center for Science Education, using her background in science to teach climate change to her teenage students. Through her activism and teaching, Ott strives to set an example and bridge the gap between climate change skeptics and believers.
Sarah Ott’s transformation from climate change skeptic to advocate exemplifies the power of education and personal growth. Her journey underscores the importance of challenging our own beliefs and seeking out diverse perspectives. By sharing her story, Ott hopes to inspire understanding and empathy, recognizing that change is possible for anyone willing to question their preconceived notions. As climate change continues to be a pressing issue, stories like Ott’s serve as a reminder that individual change can have a significant impact on the collective fight against climate change.