Will Climate Change Denial Inherit the Wind?

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NCSE's Josh Rosenau contributed "Will Climate Change Denial Inherit the Wind?" to Mobilizing Ideas, the blog of the Center for the Study of Social Movements at the University of Notre Dame. "The persistence of the creationist movement is a remarkable example of the power of social movements, and provides a valuable lesson for students of other anti-science movements," he argued. After reviewing the strategies that have enabled creationism to flourish, he suggested, "A similar dynamic may be forming around the science of climate change as well, and social movement theory will play a key role in understanding that battle — and perhaps in sparing climate science from being doomed, like evolution, to be used as a shibboleth for political factions."

"Just as the creationist movement's persistence grew out of its success in linking religious identity with creationist belief, there is a danger that climate change denial could establish itself as a permanent feature of American politics if denialist beliefs establish themselves as core parts of the conservative identity," Rosenau observed, citing the shifts with regard to climate change of nationally prominent Republican politicians through the dozen years of the twenty-first century. But there are, he added, encouraging signs that "the climate change denial movement may not be able to fully merge with movement conservatism, averting the danger that climate change denial would join creationism as a permanent feature of the American sociopolitical landscape."

Written By: Josh Rosenau – NCSE
continue to source article at ncse.com

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  1. I found this recently. It seems to offer some explanation:

    Most people spend nearly all their energy trying not to change. This is what the philosopher William James meant when he wrote the mind’s main function was to be a fortress for protecting your ego from reality. When the mind has to accommodate a new fact, James argued, it doesn’t settle on the change to its model of reality that is most likely to reflect reality. It protects the fortress, calculating the smallest possible modification to its bulwarks that can account for the new fact.

    Quoted from this article

    • In reply to #2 by OHooligan:

      This quote explains the behaviour of both sides of the Global Warming Discussion.

      ” Most people spend nearly all their energy trying not to change. This is what the philosopher William James meant when he wrote the mind’s main function was to be a fortress for protecting your ego from reality. When the mind has to accommo…

      • In reply to #28 by gerrybuddy:

        In reply to #2 by OHooligan:

        This quote explains the behaviour of both sides of the Global Warming Discussion.

        ” Most people spend nearly all their energy trying not to change. This is what the philosopher William James meant when he wrote the mind’s main function was to be a fortress for protecti…

        No, not many people knew about global warming 30 years ago I was just starting high school and didn’t know what to think. Most of us have become convinced by the evidence over years and years as it has become overwhelming, some of us have gone to the bother of studying it a university or reading significantly on it, so please don’t attempt to lump me with climate change deniers.

        Only one side has refused to accept the evidence, no-one is born believing in AGW. The question is why when there is overwhelming evidence that it is happening do the deniers continue to refuse to accept the evidence? They have had every chance to engage in the science instead well qualified scientists like Ian Plimer take the time to write popular books instead of writing journals for peer review. Why is this? Nothing to say or just nothing to say to people who will rip your work to shreds, because frankly they are exhibiting wish thinking and blatant denial. Painting people who know its real because they have done the science or read the science as equivalent to those who will not be convinced either way is just rubbish. It’s like suggesting that people having discovered the world was a sphere should instead of stating that that is a fact, should just state that it is in fact ellipsoid half way between the flat earthers and the people who know what they are talking about.

        Oh and it isn’t a discussion, it is science, it involves measuring and making predictions and testing against those predictions. Only one side is seriously engaging in the science and when the skeptics have properly engaged they have become convinced its real (see http://www.care2.com/causes/climate-change-deniers-own-study-changes-his-mind.html). One side has almost certainly got it completely wrong the other almost certainly got it right within defined error bars.

      • In reply to #28 by gerrybuddy:

        This quote explains the behaviour of both sides of the Global Warming Discussion.

        ” Most people spend nearly all their energy trying not to change. This is what the philosopher William James meant when he wrote the mind’s main function was to be a fortress for protecting your ego from reality.

        Nope! It only describes the denial side which has not studied the evidence or has refused to look at it or understand it.

        As I explained @24, over 95% of the world’s specialists in climatology and related subjects have confirmed mountains of evidence with detailed measurements. CO2 production from burning billions of tonnes of carbon, the loss of millions of cubic miles of icecaps, and the rise in average global temperatures, are on record. from multiple reliable sources. (“It’s not happening because I am too lazy or incompetent to understand the figures”, – is not a credible argument!)

        The are two classes of deniers – the ignorant who can’t or won’t understand the science and measuring techniques, and the liars from the carbon industries who want to prolong their fat profits at the expense of the planet and everyone else, by misleading the gullible, and sponsoring political stooges!

        There are plenty of low carbon energy systems which we should be developing faster, but idiot politicians and bankers, are diverting investment money into coal, oil, and gas-fracking!

  2. As a Conservative, I have no issue with regarding climate change as a verifiable fact. The climate has always changed and will always continue to change.

    The issue of contention however, is whether or not climate change is driven by human activity, not whether or not the climate is changing.

    To say that Conservatives are climate deniers, is blatantly dishonest and a deliberate misrepresentation.

    • In reply to #3 by tyga:

      As a Conservative, I have no issue with regarding climate change as a verifiable fact. The climate has always changed and will always continue to change.

      The issue of contention however, is whether or not climate change is driven by human activity, not whether or not the climate is changing.

      To sa…

      Then know, whether or not the climate change activity is driven by humans only human activity can ameliorate climate change.

    • In reply to #3 by tyga:

      As a Conservative, I have no issue with regarding climate change as a verifiable fact. The climate has always changed and will always continue to change.

      The issue of contention however, is whether or not climate change is driven by human activity, not whether or not the climate is changing.

      To sa…

      You started off so promising, I was actually hoping you were going to be the first person in history to be both a conservative and able to admit the fact that human GHG emissions are driving present climate change. Once again I am disappointed.

      • In reply to #7 by brighterstill:

        Human GHG emissions “contribute” to total global GHG emissions.

        Human activity contributes to Global Warming. No denial there. Should human activity be sustainable activity? Should human activity stop contributing to GHG emissions?

        Yes and Yes.

        Is human activity the only contributing factor in Global Warming?

        No.

    • In reply to #3 by tyga:

      As a Conservative, I have no issue with regarding climate change as a verifiable fact. The climate has always changed and will always continue to change.

      The issue of contention however, is whether or not climate change is driven by human activity, not whether or not the climate is changing.

      To sa…

      ‘Climate deniers’ also includes people who accept that the climate is changing but refuse to accept its connection to human activity. There are plenty of right-wingers in the US who say that the climate is changing but that people have nothing to do with it. These people are still climate change deniers as they are going against the overwhelming scientific consensus.

  3. Tyga- Allow me to help…

    CO2 is a greenhouse gas, as is water vapor. They trap heat. We need them because nitrogen and oxygen (most of the atmosphere) don’t do diddly about trapping heat and about all the sun can do is warm the surface of the earth with little short waves. This amount of warming is not enough to keep our planet habitable.

    The greenhouse gases warm the air and that is enough. Water vapor can’t do the job alone- we need CO2 and methane (though it is more efficient than CO2, it’s relatively scarce) to finish the job.

    But as with all in life, there exists the principle of “too much of a good thing” and that is where we come in. You have clearly not researched this well. This is not new- we have known of the “greenhouse effect” for over 150 years. The resistance today comes from right-wing politicos and think tanks hooked on the money they get by finding ways to oppose the unassailable truth that would harm the their patrons.

    • In reply to #6 by rjohn19:

      “The resistance today comes from right-wing politicos and think tanks hooked on the money they get by finding ways to oppose the unassailable truth that would harm the their patrons.”

      The only thing I care about is the evidence. To suggest human activity is the ‘only’ contributing factor in Global Warming, is blatant ignorance.

      • In reply to #12 by tyga:

        In reply to #6 by rjohn19:

        “The resistance today comes from right-wing politicos and think tanks hooked on the money they get by finding ways to oppose the unassailable truth that would harm the their patrons.”

        The only thing I care about is the evidence. To suggest human activity is the ‘only’ co…

        Even if it isn’t our fault, it’s still our problem.

      • In reply to #12 by tyga:

        The only thing I care about is the evidence. To suggest human activity is the ‘only’ contributing factor in Global Warming, is blatant ignorance.

        This is very misleading! The evidence of the size of the man-made contribution to temperature rises in the last century is overwhelming. If you have some other factors you have studied, please list them! (We already know about indirect feed-back events as a result of warming, and the climatologists are well aware of Sun-spot cycles and Milankovich Cycles , which are very clearly explained on this link.

        The only thing I care about is the evidence.

        Meanwhile you might like to look over some of the detailed evidence on this earlier discussion.

        http://old.richarddawkins.net/discussions/642733-why-the-laws-of-physics-make-anthropogenic-climate-change-undeniable

  4. This has to be the scandal of our species. We had corporations lying for short term profit and long term destruction. We had mindless Christians indulging in the silliest wishful thinking, (forgetting how wrathful Jehovah is reputed to be). It is as if reality judged us on this issue and declared our species too stupid to live.
    The only joy left on this one is saying “I told you so”.

  5. tyga:

    “As a Conservative, I have no issue with regarding climate change as a verifiable fact. The climate has always changed and will always continue to change.

    The issue of contention however, is whether or not climate change is driven by human activity, not whether or not the climate is changing.

    To say that Conservatives are climate deniers, is blatantly dishonest and a deliberate misrepresentation.”

    Many of today’s AGW deniers were a few years ago the same people who denied global warming was even occurring. When the evidence became so overwhelming that it was, they were forced to admit it. Yet they still cling on to denying AGW because they don’t want to accept their share of the responsibility of dealing with this huge problem. That’s why it is so hard to persuade them to go all the way and accept that humans are causing this warming. They just don’t want to be persuaded.

    The sad thing is, some conservatives don’t even bother to deny AGW, they just say well it’s too far gone or far too big a problem for us to be able to effectively do anything about it. Ironically, if we don’t make significant efforts soon to mitigate AGW then they may well be right.

  6. tyga:

    “Is human activity the only contributing factor in Global Warming?

    No.”

    If you’re talking about other factors such as the melting ice caps that will lead to further warming then yes, that’s true. But so what? That’s not an excuse to do nothing. Anyway, human activity started the ball rolling. We knocked over the first domino. We are ultimately the cause of this. And no amount of excuses from the apathetic (conservative or not) is going to change the reality of the situation. So they may as well get on board with tackling this problem that affects all of us.

  7. Just like to point out that there’s actually a greater acceptance of man made climate change from scientists in the US than evolution through natural selection (source National Academy of Science). That might be an argument from authority but it certainly suggests that for those who understand the science its now past the point of contention.

    What we are really talking about is large sections of the population be encouraged to ignore science or rather buy into a non peer reviewed amateur in basement debasement of science.
    Hardly surprising then that climate change denialists have a big overlap with creationists. They are both actually anti science and the fact they are gaining ground is very worrying for America and other countries.

  8. Tyga – as a fellow conservative I tend to agree. The climate is changing and we as a species are almost certainly contributing to this, but the question is – to what degree? The right are caricatured as immoral and rapacious racketeers, whilst the left are portrayed as naive, pinko tambourine bangers. In truth, we orbit a gargantuan ball of Hydrogen at a distance of 93 million miles. How anyone on either side of the argument can spout “undeniable facts” with any certitude is completely beyond me.
    The relative wealth of the West allows us the luxury of conducting this debate. Elsewhere the oppressed, the downtrodden and the poor have more pressing concerns, and are quite happy to pollute their way up the economic ladder. As long as this continues we should use technology to prepare for the coming storm, rather than consigning ourselves to life in the bike lane.

    • Don’t forget that 27% of Helium!

      “consigning ourselves to life in the bike lane”
      You state that as a negative- bikes are great fun and would help to end obesity and extend life,
      besides cutting co2 :-)

    • In reply to #16 by BroughtyBoy:

      Tyga – as a fellow conservative I tend to agree. The climate is changing and we as a species are almost certainly contributing to this, but the question is – to what degree?

      How anyone on either side of the argument can spout “undeniable facts” with any certitude is completely beyond me.

      There are many “undeniable facts” about humans causing global warming and climate change. The annual world production and combustion of coal, oil, and gas, would be a good place to start if you have not studied them yet!

    • In reply to #16 by BroughtyBoy:

      Tyga – as a fellow conservative I tend to agree. The climate is changing and we as a species are almost certainly contributing to this, but the question is – to what degree? The right are caricatured as immoral and rapacious racketeers, whilst the left are portrayed as naive, pinko tambourine bange…

      The question as to what degree has been answered in the peer review journals, if you have some specific criticism why not publish. Perhaps you are not qualified to do so (certainly I’m not) so cite me the peer review criticizing it that hasn’t been throughly discredited. The question has been answered, either you respect the process of science or you do not. That is to the best of our ability we have been able to establish with close to 100% certainly that humans have and are continuing to dramatically alter the weather. So I’m not interesting in your views as a conservative or a lefty. If you respect science you will have to admit the science says what it says whatever your political biases. Nature doesn’t care about politics. The scientists have been quite conservative in their predictions (they define exactly how certain they are) which is why each time the real data comes in it comes in as worse that the scientists were predicting. The poor and downtrodden may well be trying to pollute their way to the top. They will and in fact in many areas are already feeling the impacts of what we in the West have done, and continue to do – in-spite of knowing better. No-one is seriously suggesting everyone should need to ride a bicycle this is a straw man (although it wouldn’t hurt if more did). Your alternative of just keep polluting and develop technology to avert the numerous disasters is equivalent to suggesting we should forgo maintenance on our feet of aging Jumbos and just fit out passengers with parachutes instead.

  9. I must say I am very disappointed at the number of so called “rationalists” who deny global warming (generally conservative people/republicans) and dismiss it as a “liberal hoax.” I’ve seen it many times in this page, and I see it with the right-wing atheists/secularists who follow the ‘Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science’ on Facebook. It is very sad actually. Are these the people who supposedly stand up for “reason and science?”

  10. THis Carbon has been locked away in the earth’s crust since the carboniferous period (ie well, well, well before the dinosaurs) The planet was hotter then and is getting hotter as it is liberated back into the atmosphere and AGW deiniers think this is a coincidence? Could this be as many of them think the earth is <10,000 years old/

    • They just want to keep driving their huge-ass Hummers and SUVs and King Cab pickup trucks and be able to have an ice-cold beer in their air-conditioned living rooms while watching NASCAR. Stereotyping? Maybe, but this is an attitude I’ve observed all too often in my neighbors who are both conservative and religious. I find it the height of irony that these people’s lifestyles and worldview depend absolutely on a substance made from the fossil remains of a long-gone world they claim never existed.
      Not to mention that oil companies hold the current world record for financial profit. That’s a powerful motivation for denial – they’ll be stuffing their wallets right up until the end.
      In reply to #21 by Roy72:

      THis Carbon has been locked away in the earth’s crust since the carboniferous period (ie well, well, well before the dinosaurs) The planet was hotter then and is getting hotter as it is liberated back into the atmosphere and AGW deiniers think this is a coincidence? Could this be as many of them thi…

  11. Scientists are open to new data.Sometimes scientific “beliefs” become like religions. My mind may change again but as new data has come in, even dedicated Warmers or Deniers should rethink their positions. Maybe Global Warming will become a myth. We should hope so because it means that mankind will not disappear in a heat wave. The science may have been settled but we should be open to newer data.

    Ignore the derogatory sounding title and look at the graph: http://bit.ly/WvFgzf

    • In reply to #22 by gerrybuddy:

      Scientists are open to new data.Sometimes scientific “beliefs” become like religions. My mind may change again but as new data has come in, even dedicated Warmers or Deniers should rethink their positions. Maybe Global Warming will become a myth.

      …and maybe a magic fairy will pop up, wave a magic wand, and make wish-thinking reality, so all the years of records of measurements of reductions in polar ice cover and increasing temperatures, magically become wrong! !

      Warmers or Deniers should rethink their positions.

      This really is comical!!

      95%+ of the world’s climate specialists should “rethink their position because some denialist in China who proclaims himself to be a “scientist”, has posted some tripe on twitter!
      The climate science is cross-checked from thousands of independent sources. It is confirmed by ALL the world’s relevant scientific bodies.

      Mark Bartlam ‏@mark_bartlam 17 Mar

      My comment attacking this piece on global warming, http://bit.ly/WvFgzf , was deleted by the Mail after 5000 green arrows. #globalwarming

      SERIOUSLY!! ! You are citing someone whose claims were so poor that they were rejected not by some scientific peer-reviewed journal, but by the “Mail”?

      (Thousands of those university scientists don’t know how to measure or calculate! – that’s got to be true – some twit in China said so! )
      Gullible ignorance 1.01.

      For scientific measurements click on:-

      http://www.skepticalscience.com/empirical-evidence-for-global-warming.htm

  12. Whenever I think of climate change denial, I always think of the person who cut down the last giant palm tree on Rapa Nui (Easter Island). They just had to have that firewood or building material or log roller to get that Moai to the beach. The. Very. Last. Tree. Never mind that they had stripped their island of every natural resource and fighting was breaking out as people began to starve and realized they were trapped on the world’s most remote island (just as earth is a remote island in the middle of an endless ocean of space), they just had to go ahead and cut down that very last tree.

  13. Yesterday’s Indiana (conservative) Farm Report:

    “Farmers anxious to get corn seed in ground, waiting for flooded fields to dry.”

    Last year’s corn crop was dismal due to drought. No corn = disaster. Hopefully everyone will put 2 and 2 together.

  14. @OP -

    Will Climate Change Denial Inherit the Wind?

    Yes! – Briefly:- It will inherit the wind, the bigger hurricanes, the floods, the droughts, the increased wild-fires, the crop-failures, the famines, the tropical desertification, the ice loss, the shortage of ice fed irrigation water, the sea-level rises, the coastal erosion, the ocean acidification, and the extinctions.

    But hey! There’s money to made selling carbon for burning – as long as reckless politicians can be kept in power!
    Should we acquire world leadership which manages a sustainable planet, the carbonaceous Luddites of the denial industry, will be screaming about the bankruptcy of their polluting obsolete industries – where they have misdirected so much investment!
    (Thinking of sub-prime bankers anyone???)

  15. You guys are debating the existence of global warming with me. That is not my point. IF newer data were to show that there is no longer global warming, would you accept that evidence?

    If in the future, it were proven scientifically that there is a Biblical God, wouldn’t we accept that this is a fact.?

    • In reply to #32 by gerrybuddy:

      You guys are debating the existence of global warming with me.

      Actually we are not!
      You have not raised any specific issues relating to man-made global warming, or picked up on any of the science which has been pointed out here.

      That is not my point. IF newer data were to show that there is no longer global warming, would you accept that evidence?

      If we take measures to stop man made CO2 increasing the warming, it may well stop in a few centuries. It will probably stop and reverse as we approach the next ice age – in about 50,000 years time.

      What you don’t seem to understand is that for it to stop at present, a whole list of well evidenced and carefully measured causes would have to stop, and the abundant evidence and data on these shows these are increasing NOT STOPPING. Wishful-thinking does not conjure up evidence to contradict the thousands of carefully checked pieces of information.
      The warming is continuing and will continue no matter how many wish-thinkers would like the problem to go away!

      Why don’t you read some of the links on this discussion which explain how climate works, instead pretending some magic trend will appear and contradict ALL the available evidence.

      Among informed scientists, the days of debating IF global warming is happening are long gone – The debate has moved on, to what we can do to stop it getting worse, and what we will HAVE TO DO to adjust during the coming decades and centuries, to the damage it is going to do to the systems we depend on.

      If in the future, it were proven scientifically that there is a Biblical God, wouldn’t we accept that this is a fact?

      This is wild speculation. There is not even a widely agreed definition of “a biblical god”! All the different Abrahamic religions have their own vague versions – Scientific evidence pretty well proves the impossibility of “a biblical god”! but apart from the style of wish-thinking, gods are off the topic of this discussion. Gods should be discussed on other discussions.

  16. The “consigning ourselves to life in the bike lane” comment is a dead give away you’re dealing with a dishonest actor in the global warming story ….

    That statement is just RIGHT-WING speak for …lets pretend there is no actual science going on here …what’s really happening here is a cabal of Nihilist Birkenstock wearing tree-hugging hippy types want to force us to all live in caves and ride bikes.

    I’m sure someone probably already has posted this factoid …but just in case …
    We know mankind doesn’t just contribute to Global Warming … we know we are primarily the cause simply because the isotopic signature of burned fossil fuels can be measured ….
    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2004/12/how-do-we-know-that-recent-cosub2sub-increases-are-due-to-human-activities-updated/

    By the way Alan4discussion… Thank you SO very much for your honest and dogged determination in this very important fight .

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