Climate denial's internal contradictions spring from a need to defend economic doctrine

Originally published at:


I can’t wait to read the well-reasoned rebuttals by the climate deniers.


Wait. Climate-deniers are biased by their own interests? I’m shocked. Shocked, I tell you!


Short term interests, so not even rational self-interests.


Eh. I’d say a tiny percentage of climate deniers are biased by their own interests (specifically: industry owners and politicians), the rest of them are more of the “I don’t trust government, I don’t trust scientists, Trump 2017”-types.

Your hypothetical racist relative who also posts climate-skeptic memes on Facebook doesn’t have any particular economic ties to the oil industry. They also think that science is discredited, and that “gut instinct” is important, so they give two flying figs whether their arguments are internally sound.


I read the abstract first and on scrolling up was not the least bit surprised to see Elisabeth Lloyd as one of the authors. Lewandowsky is no fool either, and this should make for excellent reading.

What I always found interesting about CC denialism is even if you can get a denialist to agree the earth is warming, they hop straight to the idea of us being unable to do anything about it, how the warming will be a good thing, or how technology will solve the problems as they come to pass. The refusal to moderate position based on the evidence is a “tell.”


When I used to moderate the Eclipse Phase forum, one of the regulars was an Anarcho-Capitalist missionary, come to bring the economic heathens to the True Way, and this paper could have been written about him, I swear. His ability to willfully misinterpret data and papers about climate change led him to making such statements as:

Yeah. I called him on it, pointing out that the science did predict something catastrophic, and the goalposts got moved to the “well, that’s not actually catastrophic” zone:

Those things aren’t even remotely catastrophic. They’re the sort of
thing humans deal with all the time. You were talking about cascading
effects and ecological collapse.

Let’s face it, climate change is just the wrong problem to try to
tackle right now. It isn’t a big problem to begin with, and the
solutions available right now (geoengineering perhaps notwithstanding)
are terribly expensive and do practically nothing. Why arent’t we
tackling real problems like hunger, clean water, micronutrients,
education, diseases?

I’m completely baffled by our priorities. It seems that humanitarian
issues are low priority but nature has to be protected from even the
slightest harm no matter the cost.[/quote]

I know that anecdote are not the singular of data, but it definitely is illustrative of the thought processes, is it not?


This presents a single, unified theory of climate change denialism that is full of conflicts. My understanding is that there are a whole lot of different threads of climate change denialism, many of which are in conflict with each other but not with themselves. There are some very smart people on that side of the fence, and some of them have come up with persuasive theories (for lack of a better word) that are internally consistent and have the ring of truthiness.


I deny climate by insisting it change.


Many years ago my father said, “There’s no evidence of global warming.”

I said, “Even if there’s no evidence of it now that’s not a reason to keep polluting. Even if we’re not seeing the effects we can inflict real damage on the environment.”

The issue has never been brought up again.


The way they accuse their opponents of doing the very thing they are doing themselves (i.e. getting paid by interested parties) strongly remind me of how Trump accuses his opponents of doing the very same thing he does (Hillary started the birther controversy!).

It’s all part of the same anti-intellectual, anti-factual, regressive conservatism that is so strong right now. I can’t quite figure out if it’s the dying backlash of a bygone era, a swinging back to an era we hoped was gone that will walk back so many of the social advances of our society, or something that is so deeply ingrained in our psyche/genes that we will not be rid of it anytime soon.


It’s a lot like Creationism - there’s many particular varieties (Christian or other, within Christian 6k vs. 10k timelines, etc.) but all their apologist rely on trying to poke holes and cast doubt on science to make their disjointed theories look no worse, not trying to support their particular version with a cohesive theory.


I’ve posted this in other threads…

The difference between a skeptic and a denier.

A skeptic has some threshold of evidence at which they can be convinced.

A denier, upon being presented with exactly the evidence they’ve been challenging non-deniers to produce will

  • Employ special pleading
  • Move the goalposts
  • Construct a strawman rebuttal
  • Launch an ad hominem

The above is neither an exclusive nor an exhaustive list.


Just refrain from pushing them too far…


Even trying to frame climate change denial as a form of scientific rebuttal is missing the point and is another example of improper “balance”. Just as a defense attorney doesn’t need to present a cohesive alternate theory of how a crime really occurred, the FUD-peddling mouthpieces of climate change denial just need to present any alternative explanation. The purpose is not to arrive at any alternative result, but simply deny that a consensus exists. Self-contradiction, while seemingly a result of muddle-headed thinking by non-experts, is also another engineered “teach the controversy” tactic that is a favorite fifth-column tool to distract groups from making progress.


I wonder if flinging poo falls under the auspices of an ad hominem


This is news?


The better word you’re looking for is “hypotheses” or possibly “rationalizations.”


Yeah, they’re like echos of the propaganda. They know they’re supposed to hate climate science, they just don’t know why. That doesn’t stop them from being righteously indignant about things they know nothing about. This is what passes for intelligence in Post Truth America.


Prior generations could brag about squashing superstitions and ignorance.

Our watch will unfortunately be characterized by the devaluation of facts. Not specific ones as much as the concept and significance of facts themselves.

The Great Unburdening.