In the post-Copenhagen, post-Cancun, post-Climategate world, a bunch of interesting new analyses of the climate change denial movement have popped up. People have been digging deeper into the question of why, not just who or how. What motivates those who are most outspoken and vehement in their attacks on climate science?
Chris Mooney, at DeSmogBlog, summarises the emerging trends quite well. Businesses are increasingly jumping aboard the ‘we need to act’ stance, recognising that their long-term viability could be at stake. Even companies with high carbon impact, such as General Motors and BHP Billiton, are either taking action or recommending that governments instigate regulation to encourage it.
The old paradigm, when we assumed that vested interests in the fossil fuel industry were holding everything back, is shifting. An increasing amount of the clamour arguing against the existence of climate change has no grounding in science or economics, but rather ideology.
Check out Mooney’s article for a little more depth and some useful extra resources on this idea. It resonates with what I’ve experienced personally, and what is clear when the intrepid internet user ventures onto the major hotbeds of online climate denial, such as WUWT? There’s a strong anti-regulation, highly libertarian streak. They believe in the free market and small government – concepts I have sympathy for in some areas, but not across the full spectrum of human endeavour.
I feel for these conflicted people in some ways. Many are broadly pro-science, and even think of themselves as defenders of science. However, they are confronted with a scientific problem which demands a socialised and regulated response. This creates major dissonance in their minds. I suspect that the most ardent climate change denialists create and cling to the notion that climate science is some kind of huge scam because they cannot accept that, in this instance, the scientific consequences of their ideology are dire and unacceptable.