Denial of anthropogenic climate change

The evidence for the human impact on Earths climate is abundant and incontrovertible, based on our understanding of underlying concepts of the physics of our Earth system and on abundant direct and indirect observations (though its true that the details can get pretty complicated).

Here is an interactive history of climate science, but in its simplest form:

  1. it has been known since the late 19th century that certain ‘greenhouse’ gases would warm climate, and burning fossil fuels emits these gases
  2. since late 1960s concern about this caused fossil fuel companies, governments and academics to study the problem more intensely
  3. recognition of the scale of the problem and that it doesn’t care about international borders led to the formation of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change to collect and present the information to governments to aid their informed decision making
  4. in 2021, even the World Economic Forum put climate change and environmental degradation at the top of its global risks

Despite this, “ever since scientists first began to explain the evidence that our climate was warming – and that humans activities were probably to blame – people have been questioning the data, doubting the evidence, and attacking the scientists who collect and explain it.“ Naomi Oreskes and Erik Conway in Merchants of Doubt

Why is that so? Why is it so hard to convince people of something that is as certain as our knowledge that smoking cigarettes can damage your lungs and potentially cause cancers? Here are some of my thoughts on this point:

Mark Maslin puts forward five corrupt pillars of climate change denial in an article covering: scientific, economic, humanitarian, political and crisis denial.

John Cook laid out the broad sweep of tactics used to deny climate science:

So, I reckon we need to make a movement – and a suggestion of how:

Find your inspirational lone nut and follow them to turn the tide on climate inaction …

About lindsey

Environmental scientist. I am glaciologist specialising in glacier-climate interactions to better understand the climate system. The point of this is to understand how glaciated envionments might change in the future - how the glaciers will respond and what the impact on associated water resources and hazard potential will be.
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