Why would climate change deniers continuously deny climate science despite decades of research and sound scientific conclusions?
This is an ongoing issue I must consider, but I have to admit that I got into the habit of not really consciously thinking about this in-depth for awhile. I got so caught up with continuously arguing the details with these people, trying to show them the clear science; why there is a near-consensus amongst climate scientists on whether or not humans are causing considerable global warming and climate change; and why the most prestigious overarching scientific bodies in the US, the UK, and elsewhere support this near-consensus of climate scientists*, that I stopped consciously considering the deeper, internal issues in depth.
So, back to the point of this article, why do the deniers keep denying?
There are a number of reasons I have come up with, which I think I will delve into in more depth in the future (and note that I am not really focusing on the heads of fossil fuel companies or politicians who may understand that the science is clear but are trying to convince the world otherwise purely for short-term financial or political reasons):
- They are too afraid of the consequences;
- They have a serious distrust for science (and probably have not spent much time in formal scientific communities);
- They seriously distrust government, and now that this is a clear political/governmental issue, the climate change denial is surging in them;
- They have a hard time believing humans can have such a strong effect on the world’s climate… (alternatively, they see humans as relatively detached from the laws of nature — nature influences us, but we can’t influence it);
- They have a hard time understanding how the climate works — it is too abstract or complicated for them;
- They are simply immersed in a community in which the though-leaders or experts deny the science and they trust these leaders (this would include hard-core libertarian or conspiracy-theorist communities);
- They are strongly opposed to certain solutions to global warming (i.e. wind energy, solar energy, electric cars, biking, mass transit, or a shift to a less meat-based diet) because of the company or industry they work in or strong feelings regarding these topics.
It is important if we want to address the anti-science policies of our government that we understand the underlying fears and reasons common people are denying climate science. I hope this helps.
*Note: I particularly love this quote from one of our previous articles on the near-scientific-consensus: “When you stop to consider whether some sort of ‘group think’ really drives these patterns and could it really exist in science in general, the idea is really pretty laughable,” Dr. William Anderegg said. “All of the incentives in science are exactly the opposite.”
Photo Credit: mafleen