Lack of Environment

A blog on the politics and psychology underlying the denial of all our environmental problems

How to be a climate change ‘sceptic’

with 9 comments

Washington and Cook - Climate Change DenialIf I have not said it before, the reason sceptic is inside quotation marks is because I take the view, as do Clive Hamilton, Peter Jacques, and David MacKay, that those who deny anthropogenic climate disruption (ACD) are not sceptics at all.

As a consequence of this, my (MA in Environmental Politics) dissertation (researching climate change scepticism in the UK) included a threefold theoretical background, as summarised (on my old blog) as follows:
1. The philosophical roots of scepticism;
2. The political misuse of scepticism; and
3. The psychology of denial.

All of this leads me to offer readers this easy-to-use guide on “How to be a climate change ‘sceptic’”, as follows:
1. Assume everything you have been told by authority figures is a lie.
2. Assume, even though you are not an expert, that you know best.
3. Allow confirmation bias to prevent you from considering any information that might alert you to the fact that you are suffering from cognitive dissonance (i.e. “It is hard to convey just how selective you have to be to dismiss the evidence for climate change. You must climb over a mountain of evidence to pick up a crumb: a crumb which then disintegrates in your palm. You must ignore an entire canon of science, the statements of the world’s most eminent scientific institutions, and thousands of papers published in the foremost scientific journals…”George Monbiot, 10 May 2005).
4. Continue asserting your individual human rights whilst simultaneously ignoring your collective human responsibilities.
5. Maintain a utilitarian attitude to the environment (i.e. “use it up and wear it out”) despite mounting evidence to indicate that the ecological carrying capacity of planet Earth (w.r.t. humans at least) has already been exceeded.
6. Accuse anyone who asserts that there is cause for concern and/or an urgent need for radical action to mitigate humanity’s impact on the planet as being any or all of the following:- anti-human, anti-libertarian, anti-progress, anti-Western, and/or in favour of a new global socialist world government (“which is what the UN is all about, init!”).

In his book, ”Bad Science”, Ben Goldacre says that proponents of pseudoscience have succeeded in making people think science is impenetrable. However, the truth may be even more insidious because, by awakening people to the fact that they are regularly being lied to, these peddlers of pseudoscience have in fact contributed to – if not caused – a much more widespread distrust of science and all scientific authority.

Therefore, I would humlby suggest that claiming that humanity is not the cause of climate change is even more stupid – and even more dangerous – than claiming (as did Thabo Mbeki for a long time) that HIV is not the cause of AIDS.

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Written by Martin Lack

7 September 2011 at 17:20

9 Responses

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  1. [...] Anyone who dismisses this as merely an unlikely consequence of natural variation is guilty of wishful thinking. However, this is exactly what denialists do when they continue to insist, by drawing a line between an unusually warm year and an unusually cool year, that despite all this, global warming is not happening. It is for this reason that people like John Cook insist on accusing so-called “sceptics” of having their heads in t…. [...]

  2. [...] dissertation, namely the political misuse of scepticism; and the psychology of denial.  See my How to be a Climate Change ‘Sceptic’  for more [...]

  3. [...] As I have repeatedly said to you John, I have no interest in playing numbers games with you. The purpose of this blog is not to discuss the science upon which concern over anthropogenic climate disruption (ACD) is based, it is to focus attention on: – the ideological prejudice causing many to resist demands for mitigating action to be taken. – the politics and psychology causing people to deny the reality of what is now happening. [...]

  4. [...] for the record, in addition to being a Conservative voter, I am not anti progress (you may need to read to the end of this link to see the relevance but I believe it will be worth [...]

  5. [...] While on holiday in the South of France with my children and my ex-Wife (yes, I know, that is a bit weird), it was very hot (I wonder why?) and, for over a week, the night-time temperature never went below 20C / 70F. Therefore, I don’t know whether it was the heat or indigestion but, every night, unable to sleep, I would sit at the dining room table writing stuff that has since appeared here: I have also used this blog as a vehicle for sharing with the World the findings from my 5 months spent analysing the public discourse of climate change scepticism in the UK, as practiced by organisations, scientists, economists, politicians, and others. Whereas a 300-word Abstract of my dissertation is viewable on my About page, I still think my first attempt to subsequently summarise its importance to a wider audience was possibly better: How to be a climate change ‘sceptic’ (7 September 2012). [...]

  6. [...] Although I am scientifically trained and have degrees in Geology and Hydrogeology (see my About page), this blog arises from my having also got an MA in Environmental Politics and, as such, as the tagline indicates, is a blog on “the politics & psychology underlying the denial of all environmental problems”. [...]

  7. [...] of one or more of the fundamental mistakes Goldacre highlights in his book (see my previous post of yesterday). Furthermore, he is therefore right to conclude that… “You cannot reason someone out of a [...]

  8. [...] dissertation, namely the political misuse of scepticism; and the psychology of denial.  See my How to be a Climate Change ‘Sceptic’  for more [...]

  9. […] it warranted being re-posted in its own right…  Originally posted on 7 September 2011, as How to be a climate change “sceptic”, this is probably (even if I do say so myself) one of the best things I have ever written here […]


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