Climate Change Denialism

Climate Change Denialism

  • “Climate’s changed before”,
  • “There is no consensus”,
  • “It hasn’t warmed since 1998”,
  • “Arctic ice melt is a natural cycle”,
  • “Climate scientists are in it for the money”,
  • “It’s a natural cycle”,
  • “Sea level rise predictions are exaggerated”,
  • “IPCC graph showing accelerating trends is misleading.”

It’s not only President Donald Trump and his administration that doesn’t believe in climate change and think it’s a hoax. It turns out that this stubborn mindset goes back to former President, Ronald Reagon. The Democratic party support the fact that climate change is happening and urgent action is needed, however in the other corner the Republican party think that it is a hoax and that there is nothing to worry about.  It seems as if climate change is a political issue rather than an environmental or humanitarian issue.

Climate Change Denialism

Climate change denial has taken various forms over the past two decades – including the denial of global warming, the denial of its anthropogenic sources and the denial of its seriousness – as climate science and socio-political contexts have evolved. While it originated in the US, climate change has spread gradually to a range of nations, creating somewhat of an international movement. Initially funded primarily by the fossil fuel industry, over time conservative foundations and think tanks have become major followers and promoters of climate change denial. Conservative think tanks, in particular, have enabled and promoted the efforts of a small number of contrarian scientists to provide the forces of denial with the guise of scientific credibility, magnifying the visibility and impact of the contrarian’s views. The activities of the contrarians have supplied vital ammunition for attacking conventional climate science, symbolised by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), and thus the scientific underpinning of calls for policy – making to deal with climate change.

Climate Change Denialism

Over the last two decades, the issue of anthropogenic climate change has been thoroughly politicised in the United States, in large part due to the climate change denial activism of the American Conservative movement and its allies. Several recent studies document how politically polarised the US general public has become on this issue in recent years. Indeed, such intense political polarization (mainly due to belief in and concern about climate change plummeting among Conservatives and Republicans over the past decade) has contributed to the United States’ outlier status among advanced industrial countries in comparative studies of public opinion on climate change. Yet, climate change has also become more politicized in several other countries around the world, including Australia, Canada, and the UK, at least in part because of organized campaigns in those nations to deny its significance  Not surprisingly, several recent studies document political divides on climate change views within the general public of Australia, Canada, the UK, as well as a range of other countries.

Climate deniers have harvested far more media attention than prominent climate scientists over the years, fuelling public confusion and slowing the response to global warming, researchers reported Tuesday. From 2000 through 2016, hundreds of academics, business people and politicians who doubted global warming or attributed rising temperatures to “natural” causes got 50% more exposure than an equal number of top scientists, according to a study in Nature Communications, a peer-reviewed journal. In reality, there has long been overwhelming agreement among climate scientists that global warming—caused mainly by burning fossil fuels—poses a significant threat to civilisation and much of life on Earth. An increase of only one degree Celsius had generated rising seas and an increase of deadly extreme weather, and Earth is on track to heat another three degrees by century’s end.

Reasons, why certain people deny climate change, are that they may be scared of change, fearful of economic collapse, greed, they don’t think it’s real and that it is just a hoax made by media.

Climate Change Denialism

Over the last year, public concern over global warming has grown dramatically, sparked in part by an October UN report warning that only a wholesale overhaul of the global economy and consumption patterns can forestall climate chaos. In Europe, green parties running on a platform of climate action gaining nearly two dozen seats in EU parliamentary elections. Climate protesters drawing from the civil disobedience playbook of Marin Luther King and Gandhi, meanwhile, have spilled into the streets. In the United States, a call for climate action has become a litmus test among Democratic candidates for president, and many young people have rallied around the legislative initiative known as the Green New Deal.

A handful of western governments have pledged to slash carbon emissions to “nett zero” by mid-century. But even today, established media continue to provide platforms for dubious or discredited assertions about global warming. Last week, for example, US business magazine Forbes published an article on its website entitled “Global Warming? An Israeli Astrophysicist Provides Alternative View That is Not Easy To Reject”. The “alternative view”—that warming is caused by the Sun and not CO2 emissions—is thoroughly discredited, and the magazine was compelled within hours to remove the piece.

As Arnold Schwarzenegger (a republican that actually believes in climate change and the urgency for action) said in a recent interview “how can you make the environment a political issue, how can it be that the right is against it and left is for it. There’s no democratic air; there’s no liberal air or conservative air, we all breathe the same air, we all drink the same water, so then how can it be a pollical issue. We all want a clean environment; we want to create a clean future for our children and grandchildren, the Politian’s make it a political issue, like health care or education.”

Climate Change Denialism

Greta Thunberg, the young climate change activist from Sweden, has come under fire from many sceptics, attacking her viewpoints as well as her illness (Asperger syndrome). The latter in my opinion is a pretty cheap shot. Thunberg doesn’t let this get to her, and she instead focusses her energies on the task at hand and of course the facts. She was asked in a recent interview what the best way to help her was; this was her response “Activism seems to be working. So, I would encourage people to become activists. And if you have a big platform, then highlight the crisis and communicate the information. We need everyone to participate, even adults and unions and so on. And of course, we do this every Friday. Everyone is welcome to join”. For more on Greta Thunberg, see this link

So how do we solve this denialism attitude?  To make a change, you need to be tactful. Don’t bombard them with facts and figures, instead find out what their interests and passions are, what do they care about whether it be food, travel, photography, wildlife, even sport. Everything links back to nature in some form or fashion. If you’re in a social setting you may not convert the denier but people listening in or contributing could go home and have a good think about it.   


Dunlap, R. E. (2013). Climate Change Skepticism and Denial: An Introduction. American Behavioral Scientist, 57(6), 691–698.

Dunlap, R. E., McCright, A. M., & Yarosh, J. H. (2016). The Political Divide on Climate Change: Partisan Polarization Widens in the U.S. Environment, 58(5), 4–23.

McCright, A. M., & Dunlap, R. E. (2011). Cool dudes: The denial of climate change among conservative white males in the United States. Global Environmental Change, 21(4), 1163–1172.

McCright, A. M., Dunlap, R. E., & Marquart-Pyatt, S. T. (2016). Political ideology and views about climate change in the European Union. Environmental Politics, 25(2), 338–358.

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