9 steps to global warming denial

Global warming denial is not as easy as it used to be. The IPCC has collated scientific evidence — both measured and modeled — to conclude that there is a greater than 95% certainty that human activities have increased greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere. And then confirmed the next logic step that this increase has led to ongoing global warming.

There is now considerable measured and proxy evidence to back up these claims. And in many parts of the world the weather is behaving oddly. 

Even with a mountain of evidence climate change denial is still around at all levels in society. And it’s not just a private opinion that everyone should be entitle to, there are governments holding firm to denial and rolling back climate change policy.

There is a big difference between denial and climate change skepticism.

Denial is a flat refusal to believe whilst skepticism is more about “I’d don’t believe it right now, so I need sound evidence to persuade me otherwise”. Skepticism is healthy because it demands thought, rational weighing up of evidence before an opinion is reached. Thinking with evidence reduces assumptions and bias making the landing on an opinion closer to a truth.

We all should be more skeptical than we are about many things, not just global warming.

As always, everyone has an opinion and it should be a right to hold it. Noting that the key word ‘hold’ describes an action of keeping something close and not pushing it onto everyone else. But I digress.

Global warming denial is just as prevalent after a couple of decades of climate change debate and media attention that it was when the issue first emerged.

This is how it’s done.

9 ways to achieve global warming denial

This list comes from a 2001 study of Swiss focus groups into the psychology of why climate change debunked.

The first 5 ways are about a failure of mindfulness…

1) deny responsibility

Clearly as an individual going about my business just like everyone else I am not the main cause of this problem.

2) plead ignorance

I’m just an ordinary bloke; I can’t be expected to know this science stuff even if it’s supposed to be important

3) reject any blame

I’m just making an honest living so how is it that I have done something wrong, no sir.

4) condemn the accuser

You might be all high and mighty with your science and fancy numbers, but you have no right to challenge me on what I believe.

5) cynicism

Climate change, who cares? Society is corrupt anyway; it’s just a scam put about by those screaming greenies. They are all as bad as each other.

The next 4 ways to achieve global warming denial are about making an excuse…

6) comfort

Look, it’s all very well but I can’t change they way I’m doing things. It’s so hard to make ends meet we must have our little luxuries otherwise we would go nuts.

7) fabricated constraints

I would love to believe in this but I just have to take the kids to school.

8) displaced commitment

There is no way this is the most important issue. I recycle everything and have always told my kids not to litter.

9) powerlessness

Even if I believed in this thing there would be nothing I could do to stop it. 

Frog in hot water

These ways to deny global warming are tried and tested. If you have a discussion with a person who denies the issue then one or more of these arguments will appear.

What they all amount to is that there is no real urgency, just cause or personal impact to the issue. We just don’t feel it happening.

It is like the frog in the saucepan.

Drop a frog into a pan of hot water and it will struggle like crazy to get out. 

Drop a frog into a pan of cool water and it will swim quietly to a gentle stop. Warm that water slowly and the frog will cook before it realizes there is a problem.

There is a similar issue with the threat from global warming effects and explains why people deny it.

Threats from climate change or global warming... 

  • are not visible and immediate
  • have not happened before [at least not in recorded memory]
  • do not have an obvious cause 
  • no obvious outside factor to blame
  • do not directly affect us

So we behave like the frog in the saucepan of cool water. There is no shock to get us to take notice.

And it makes global warming denial a very easy out.

› global warming denial

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