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Can anyone clarify why there are STILL people who deny climate change?

How is this possible?

Posted - December 12, 2017


  • 63
    Sorry but I do not find scenes like this 'entertaining'.
      December 13, 2017 3:29 PM MST

  • 1539
    Ah, but is it the change they deny or are accused of denying, or the cause?

    Ignoring the debate-closing Biblical literalists alluded to above, or anyone daft enough to think credible that engaging but silly animation in the opening to Waterworld, the debate has been poisoned by bitter claim and counter-claim on both sides, often for commercial or political reasons.

    It's also not helped by poor reporting and by campaigns fought by people who may be sincere and even well-meaning, but give the distinct impression of their having a Janet and John level of scientific and engineering knowledge. Some of the shrillest seem not yet to have grasped the differences between 'fuel', 'energy' and 'power', or why 'renewable energy' is an absurd term. Let alone do they ask of the deeper significances of the causes they espouse.

    The term "climate-change denier" springs from that bitterness, as one of abuse rather than rational discussion, but does at least use the scientifically more valid term than "global warming".   

    It is true that the climate changes over time naturally. We are still in an Ice Age, in geological time-spans the Earth's overall climate is relatively cool, and only time will tell if we are in a warmer inter-glacial or thawing from the entire Age. In either, but especially the latter, case be glad none of here now will live to see the results.


    The present scientific consensus is that human activities are affecting the world's overall climate. They might at least be accelerating the rate of change that will come anyway - but we can't be complacent. However, the efficacy of the rather drastic measures now being taken or planned cannot be known for sure until well after the event - they are something of a gamble though may at least buy us time.

    Whatever is actually happening, how and at what rate is one thing, but the next few decades may see society rather than Nature bring massive changes in the way we live in any land under any culture or political system; and we need rational analysis and objective understanding, not irrational arguing and shallow campaigning.

    [Edited to clarify a sentence.] This post was edited by Durdle at December 17, 2017 4:13 AM MST
      December 14, 2017 7:04 PM MST

  • 3235
    Thank you. Excellent post. 
      December 15, 2017 7:49 PM MST

  • 5340
    Trump has made it fashionable to deny reality simply because one can---with the implication that there will be no consequences if the truth is denied.

    Climate change is undeniable. The amount by which human activity and choices affect that change may be difficult to clarify exactly, but it's hard to believe that anyone still thinks that what we humans do does not affect the environment.

    And it's the speed of that change that is important.  Anybody can use an elevator to change his altitude from the 10th floor to the ground floor safely---or walk down if he so chooses---but the problem for the guy who jumps off the roof is that he has omitted the concept of deceleration (the change of velocity over time) in his calculations.

    And now, he has been confronted with and overwhelmed by what he choose to ignore, the rest of us are left to deal with the elevators speeding up and the floors crumbling so that no one can descend in safety. 
      December 15, 2017 1:46 PM MST

  • 3235
      December 15, 2017 8:34 PM MST

  • 13850
    The climate is of cause changing. It has changed many times over many millinia. 
    The dispute is whether or not changes in climate now are man made.
      December 16, 2017 8:22 AM MST

  • 1539
    Looking back, it's noticeable that none of us have actually answered the question - WHY do some deny either the climate is changing, or that if it is changing, that humanity might have something to do with it.

    It's struck me that the answer has nothing to do with either scriptural escapism or with genuine scientific attempt to understand the world - anyway, the former wants to stifle the latter; while the latter does not or can not understand the former. These arguments can so easily descend into such intellectual, theological, philosophical and social aridity that they help no-one and achieve nowt.

    Instead, perhaps the change or cause denial arises from fear. Fear, I believe, of either or both:

    a)  The physical-geographical results of general climate warming irrespective of cause (higher sea-levels, big changes in regional climates and their weather-patterns with consequent effects on human needs and activities, particularly agriculture).

    b) The social and industrial policies being planned or already under way to diminish the effects of change - policies whose efficacy and real effects will not be really known until after the event. Basically, then, fear of severe changes in life-style, livelihood or other personally-significant matters.

    Consequently, denying anything is happening or why it may be, offers a bulwark protecting against the possibilities. It says simply, if the change or cause does not exist, then neither can the possible effects or solutions.

      December 16, 2017 3:23 PM MST

  • 5340
    An useful exposition of why stupid people are still in denial.
      December 16, 2017 3:28 PM MST

  • 1539
    Thank you.

    I should make clear that although I don't believe in God - or any god -  I do not object to doing so, and I have friends who are religious. Indeed two or three of them are ordained.

    I object to is believers using their belief and scriptures to shut down debate and knowledge based on scientific methods. I have no time for the so-called "Intelligent Design" cult, which I find rather sinister, or those who try to enforce literalism in schools, again for sinister reason they don't like to admit; but I have no objection to people of ANY religion who accept scientific knowledge whilst still believing in the Universe being created and driven by their deity.

    I gather some Creationists DO accept the calculated ages of the Universe (nearly 15 X 10^9 years) and of the Earth (4.5 X 10^ 9 years) etc but want to enforce this in suitably selective ways to support their cause. To me that is silly and even rather blasphemous because there's nothing to stop you believing God did it,  but you don't respect God by disparaging scientific research into His works. If you believe in both God and Science - a somewhat difficult stance, I agree - you must treat both fairly. Creationism, of either strand, is unfair to both.

    I proposed two sources of Fear as driving many in the climate-change debate, and this entire question has shown a third. It is this:

    Science attempts to learn How and When, not By Whom and Why. Religion says it knows By Whom and tries to ask Why.

    Religion CAN share that knowledge, but Biblical literalists  will not admit and do all they possibly can to rubbish science. One of their main weapons is to point out that science is not rigid, that theories are made and changed or discarded over time, and so on. This only shows they either cannot or will not understand how science works - and the irony of using the Internet to promulgate their views has yet to occur to them.

    It is clear to me then the Creationists, of both strands, fear something.

    Of what, I am not sure and I suggest it is highly personal anyway. I set aside the victims of parental, school, church or cult bullying, for whom I feel sorry. I am talking about those who voluntarily take without daring to question, their literalist or Int. Des. stance.

    I think they fear any or all of: their own God, Science, or their own intellect and natural curiosity. The last is deeply ironical and sad because surely if you believe your species was created by God - in whatever way over whatever time - human intellect and spirit of enquiry must rank among God's greatest gifts; to be valued and encouraged, not suppressed in self and certainly not in others.

    Suppress your own intellect and natural spirit of enquiry, and you demean only yourself. Suppress them in others by, basically, calling them liars for not taking Genesis literally, and you demean not only yourself and your victims, but one of the greatest values in being human, the original author of that story and his own society; and ultimately, your own deity. Why do some do that? Fear - but only they can understand their personal fears, and of what. They can, but do they choose to do so?

    Adding that fear of Science and of own-Religion, to the fear of what is happening to the climate and what if anything we can do about it, produces a pretty poisonous concoction of wilful ignorance and complacency of no help to anyone, religious or not.
      December 17, 2017 4:02 AM MST

  • 3235
    Excellent response. Durdle, you have, in my view, broached the crux of the issue. Fear of change. Fear of admitting responsibility. Fear of consequences. Fear of discovering a cold reality. Fear of being told you were wrong, etc. 
    Sounds like a description of childish behavior, doesn’t it. How counterproductive in the face of such a dire predicament. Stick fingers in your ears and sing, “Lalalalalala”. 

    I will equate the stalwart denial position with those who denied Copernicus or Darwin, ideologies that upset the status quo of their eras. Bad news for the powers-that-be; heresy. Those vested interests never go down without a stink, the difference in this being that future existence is affected.  This post was edited by Don Barzini at December 17, 2017 11:34 AM MST
      December 17, 2017 5:26 AM MST

  • 1539
    Thank you - and in return you've made two very good points there: that such obduracy is not new, and vested interests. 
      December 17, 2017 12:03 PM MST