Social Question

jca's avatar

Why are Conservatives so opposed to the theory (or reality) of climate change/global warming?

Asked by jca (35976points) April 6th, 2014

The majority of Conservatives, Republicans, Tea Party people are opposed to climate change/global warming. Why?

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90 Answers

kritiper's avatar

Because it would/could cut so deeply into their profit margin.

ragingloli's avatar

They do not want to believe that the things they support, have such devastating consequences.
They would have to take responsibility for that, and despite being the self proclaimed party of personal responsibility, they do not want to take responsibility.

Judi's avatar

I remember conservatives in the seventies talking about how environmentalists were really satanists trying to steal our children’s minds. They’re just nuts.

dappled_leaves's avatar

Because their masters tell them to be. And their masters are people who stand to lose money if specific actions are taken to counter climate change. This is just one example of conservatives voting against their own interests (which they do consistently), because their leaders talk incessantly about emotionally-charged social issues (guns, abortion, patriotism), which get conservatives to the polls.

In other words, they are being played. They don’t know the issue of climate change at all, and they’re not interested in learning what is known about it. They are fed a line, and in turn, they repeat that line loudly and angrily to everyone who will listen.

BeenThereSaidThat's avatar

Since I don’t like to “Pigeon Hole” a whole group of people under one banner I find this question kind of silly.

I would guess the words you left out would be “man made” Global Warming.

If I wanted to generalize like you do, I could ask “Why do Liberals refuse to believe that an unborn fetus is not a child but only a glob of tissue even though medical pictures show a living child”. Nah….....
This is not the “discussion” you are looking for I’m sure. Let’s get back to mocking Conservatives..

Dan_Lyons's avatar

It isn’t so much that they oppose the theory as that they oppose trying to do anything about it.

Pachy's avatar

@BeenThereSaidThat demonstrates once again how we run our country/world nowadays. A member of one group thrusts and a member of an opposing group makes a defensive parry, sans reasoned, intelligent debate. Sad.

Kropotkin's avatar

@BeenThereSaidThat The claim in the opening question is that it’s the “majority” of conservatives—not the “whole group” of conservatives. In other words, it was not “pigeon holing” or some blanket generalisation.

There’s this study which looked at conservative white males specifically, and how their beliefs differ compared to the general adult population.

Conservatives white males were significantly more likely than the general population to disbelieve or deny climate change and/or its effects.

There’s also a discussion about the possible theories to explain the difference in beliefs about climate change among conservatives.

Here’s a few pieces of data from the study:

“Seriousness of GW greatly exaggerated in the media: 65.1%”
“There is no scientific consensus that GW is occurring: 58.8%”
“Recent temperature increases are not primarily due to human activities: 58.5%”

The numbers are even higher for conservatives who were confident in their understanding of climate change.

I think those things fit the definition of climate change denial. They’re also all in the majority.

SavoirFaire's avatar

It seems to me that those who deny the scientific fact of anthropogenic global warming do so in part because they have unwittingly accepted the political opinion that a particular course of action (to which they are opposed) follows from it.

The argument given by American liberals goes as follows:

1. If anthropogenic global warming is occurring, then we must adopt a particular set of environmental reforms.
2. Anthropogenic global warming is occurring.
3. Therefore, we must adopt a particular set of environmental reforms.

From a logical point of view, this is a perfectly respectable argument. It follows the pattern of modus ponens, which guarantees that it is formally valid. American conservatives deny the conclusion, however, which means they must reject one of the premises. Yet rather than disputing the first premise, they have chosen to dispute the second—and in doing so, they have essentially forfeited the political aspect of the debate.

Of course, American conservatives have had a lot of success with this sort of strategy. Why do the intellectual work of debating when dogma and rhetoric are working? Nevertheless, it is a mistake to think that the scientific facts end the political debate, and there is an intellectually respectable way of contesting the argument given by American liberals without denying the overwhelming scientific evidence for anthropogenic global warming: challenge the first premise—which is distinctly political—and have the debate revolve around not what the scientific facts are, but what the proper response to them might be.

Coloma's avatar

I wonder if they refute black holes too? l
Maybe there is a special black hole just waiting to swallow ‘em all, one can hope. haha

johnpowell's avatar

This isn’t CNN and flight MH370.. The black hole angle has been covered.

RocketGuy's avatar

They don’t like outside people telling them what to do and how to lose their money.

Still, I told my intelligent, wealthy, Consevative Republican friend about the consensus and personal responsibility. Now she has solar panels on her house. She is also debating between a Tesla S and Cadillac ELR. She can afford either one.

Dr_Lawrence's avatar

Conservatives who deny global warming and its dangers prefer to pander to big business, especially the energy industry for the sake of political support regardless of the consequences.

Dan_Lyons's avatar

Aren’t the wealthy elitists planning on escaping this planet prior to their destroying it?

dappled_leaves's avatar

@Dan_Lyons I’m pretty sure that was Newt Gingrich’s plan.

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

There are various stages of denial and most liberals automatically assume that conservatives deny all of it. Actually I think that the conservative side who are making valid arguments would say that the basic science is valid and we are contributing to the CO2 increase through a series of different vectors but the feedback mechanisms that attenuate or amplify the effects of the increase are not well understood. Also what is being proposed in the meantime is that we simply tax carbon emissions while giving special interests exemptions and loopholes….essentially doing nothing about the problem while further attacking the middle class. Meanwhile the “liberal” camp talk it up but offer no viable solutions aside from “we need to do something about it” This is a precursor to disaster. We have to get rid of the extremes of complete denial and doomsday alarm so that sensible, viable solutions can be found. Honestly I’m pretty worried about all of our ecosystems and the fact that all of the environmental chips are riding on global warming and not spread out on more dire problems such as clean water make me think we are all being played by the politics. My biggest peeve is this “all conservatives are stupid” “all tree hugging liberals are idiots” is stopping all honest, genuine progress. Just fucking stop this. Stop asking questions like “why do (Political party) think (some issue) is (whatever)” .... This has been asked like five times in the last couple of months. Stop it. It’s not helping.

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

How do you know they are and not just saying what the heads of the party want to project?

ibstubro's avatar

I don’t understand why global warming matters. We’re currently a cancer on the Earth, hell-bent on killing our host. It can’t continue, or we will succeed in making our host so inhospitable that the human race will vanish.

And I’m pretty much a conservative.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@ibstubro I don’t so mind taking out the humans, but the collateral damage will really suck. And I think that’s the scientific term for it.

ibstubro's avatar

I tend to agree, @Adirondackwannabe, about the humans, “Adapt or disappear.”

The Earth will survive and re-invent. Look at all the cool stuff that’s happened since the dinosaurs disappeared.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

Yes but holy shit, the carnage won’t be pretty. Look what’s happening with polar bears.

Coloma's avatar

I saw ” Noah” today, very good. Times up for sure, build an Ark. lol
I say we should start completely over, 6 humans and 60 million animals.

Winter_Pariah's avatar

Because they worship Nurgle and thus dislike change.

KNOWITALL's avatar

Not all liberals are concerned either so perhaps it’s human denial, and it’s too costly for a lot of us to convert.

Dutchess_III's avatar

But we HAVE to @KNOWITALL, whether global warming is a reality or not. The fuels that run the planet we have created will be exhausted before long.

Jaxk's avatar

Global Warming Denier certainly covers a lot of ground. There are in fact a whole series of theories that need to be accepted to become one of the enlightened global warmers.

1. You must accept that global temperatures are rising.
2. You must agree that humans are causing it.
3. You must agree that something bad will happen as a result.
4. You must accept that we know what to do and have the ability to make it stop.

If you are unsure of any of those things, you become a Global Warming Denier. From my perspective, I know we emerged from the Little Ice Age about 160 years ago. That means we are warmer than we were 160 years ago so I buy #1. But since I think that emerging from the Little Ice Age was a good thing, it calls into question #3. Also since cars were unlikely to be the cause of that warming (they hadn’t been invented yet), it calls into question #2. Since many of the examples Warmers use are debatable at best (Polar bear population has increased over the past 50 years) I am skeptical of #4 as well.

I guess I’d have to say, I’m not completely on board with the Climate Change Agenda.

KNOWITALL's avatar

4Utchess Dare you to poll jellies for carbon footprints, I’m sure we’d all be disappointed in the results.

Kropotkin's avatar

@Jaxk That’s nice. It’s just a shame that nothing in your argument logically follows from one point to the next. You’re jumping from one non sequitur to the next. Let me try to break it down.

“I know we emerged from the Little Ice Age about 160 years ago. That means we are warmer than we were 160 years ago so I buy #1. But since I think that emerging from the Little Ice Age was a good thing, it calls into question #3”

This doesn’t follow. You’re basically stating that because one instance of warming was good; then warming can’t be bad, or “calls into question”—whatever that means.

The rate of warming in recent decades is faster. The causal mechanisms for the Little Ice Age are quite well understood (a dip in solar output, and high volcanism) and the recovery from that “ice age” was a return to relatively normal temperatures—and not an aberrant rise in temperatures.

“Also since cars were unlikely to be the cause of that warming (they hadn’t been invented yet), it calls into question #2.”

The form of this fallacy is identical to the last. You can’t infer that humans might not be causing today’s warming just because some warming in the past was not caused by humans.

Just to reiterate. The Little Ice Age was natural, and when those cooling effects dissipated—temperatures returned to normal.

“Since many of the examples Warmers use are debatable at best (Polar bear population has increased over the past 50 years) I am skeptical of #4 as well.”

No doubt you’ll provide some verifiable data about polar bear populations with a coherent theory explaining why their population has supposedly increased despite their habitat actually diminishing. (You won’t.)

I’m sure you’ll also provide some of these “debatable” examples used by “Warmers”.

jca's avatar

If it is true (assuming it’s true) that polar bear populations have actually increased, it’s possible that may be due to hunting of polar bears not being allowed, or being restricted now.

RocketGuy's avatar

Koch Industries publicly pushes a no Warming agenda, but has recently invested billions in water rights. These will only pay off if Climate Change comes about. I consider them to be very intelligent, so I think they are duping Americans for their own profit. Also note that Climate Change will result in hotter summers and colder winters. That will require more petroleum products, so more profit for Koch and less savings for us. Follow the money.

Jaxk's avatar


I realize nothing will change in either of our positions but since I find this interesting I’ll respond.

There are many articles about Polar bears but here’s one that is really quite interesting and doesn’t seem to push an agenda.

“You’re basically stating that because one instance of warming was good; then warming can’t be bad” – No it means that if one instance of warming is good then warming may not always be bad. If you want me to be afraid of warming, you need to prove it will be bad.

“You can’t infer that humans might not be causing today’s warming just because some warming in the past was not caused by humans.” – Actually, yes I can. Lots of things cause warming. Most of what I hear from the Warmers is that fossil fuels are the culprit. With the occasional deforestation argument. Of course we know that sun spots have increased (you mentioned that) so we have to give weight to each of the causes. In other words if we simply shut down all transportation (planes, trains, and automobiles) how much warming would continue from deforestation and sunspots?

Frankly I’m much more concerned about another ice age than I am about warming.

@jca – Hunting is definitely part of it but not just hunting of Polar Bears. In 1983 the EU banned importation of Whitecoat Harp Seal skins and the seal population exploded. Not surprisingly, so did the Polar Bear population. in that area.

@RocketGuy – I can’t fault that logic but you must apply it to the global warmers as well. For instance Al Gore has made multi-millions of his global warming speeches. It would seem he has an incentive. All the while, jetting around the world telling the rest of us to cut back. Building his power consuming mansions while telling us to cut back. Telling us about sea rise yet building his mansion on the coast. Does that not seem suspicious?

@Kropotkin – I’m running low on energy here and don’t want to write a book so if you need more on the debatable examples, let me know and I’ll be happy to provide

Dutchess_III's avatar

@KNOWITALL What do you mean “poll Jellies for carbon footprints?”

RocketGuy's avatar

Al Gore is stupid and the hockey stick graph was alarmist, but Climate Change is still real. The early climate models were inaccurate because they were UNDER-PREDICTING the upcoming changes. The models are much better now. They correlate well with actual measurements, and even show that temperatures would be lower if man-made CO2 were reduced. We know that the extra CO2 comes from fossil fuels because fossil fuels have only Carbon12, and the amount of Carbon12 vs Carbon13 in the atmosphere has been going down. Carbon13 is being diluted out by the burning of fossil fuels. It’s our fault, and personal responsibility requires us to fix it.

SavoirFaire's avatar

@Jaxk Your account of the claims made by global warming science is mistaken. The theory of anthropogenic global warming states the following:

1. Average global temperatures are currently rising faster than ordinary geological change (such as leaving an ice age) can explain.
2. Human activity is the best explanation for the difference between the expected rise in average global temperatures and the actual rise in average global temperatures.
3. The accelerated rise in average global temperatures will bring about various changes in the Earth’s ecosphere more rapidly.
4. These changes will make certain current ways of life impossible.

These are all straightforwardly factual. But notice that there is no claim that the various changes will be bad. It’s just that there are current practices incompatible with the future state of the world. As such, what to do about the situation is an open question.

In other words, you have fallen into precisely the error I described above: you have conflated the science of global warming with the politics of global warming, inadvertently giving away the game. It’s a losing proposition for your side, at least intellectually.

Kropotkin's avatar

@Jaxk “No it means that if one instance of warming is good then warming may not always be bad. If you want me to be afraid of warming, you need to prove it will be bad.”

That’s sort of true, but it’s not very useful when ignoring known causal mechanisms. We know why the Little Ice Age happened, and we know why the current warming is happening.
There’s no need to guess and use inductive arguments based on past instances of warming.

“Actually, yes I can. Lots of things cause warming. Most of what I hear from the Warmers is that fossil fuels are the culprit. With the occasional deforestation argument. Of course we know that sun spots have increased (you mentioned that) so we have to give weight to each of the causes.”

Do you think scientists don’t already assess all the variables? Solar irradiance has been flat for half a century. It’s not the sun.

” In other words if we simply shut down all transportation (planes, trains, and automobiles) how much warming would continue from deforestation and sunspots?”

It’s not the sun. Deforestation is more complicated as deforested areas have a higher albedo—more energy is reflected.

The polar bear article was indeed quite good. It seems that there’s a lot of difficulty in even counting the bears (I’ve also read elsewhere that old data from decades ago was likely underestimating numbers). There was also no denial of climate change—indeed, it pretty much accepted that climate change was having an effect on the local ecology and the polar bears.

”. . . so if you need more on the debatable examples, let me know and I’ll be happy to provide.”

I’m all ears.

Kropotkin's avatar

@RocketGuy “Al Gore is stupid and the hockey stick graph was alarmist”

The hockey stick graph has been replicated by various researchers using a variety of techniques. It’s accurate.

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

Look at all the climatologists we have here on fluther.

RocketGuy's avatar

I would have found the CO2 graph more believable if it were a typical S curve of a chemical reaction. CO2 is headed asymptotically to some high value. He could have said the high value would result in xxx bad effects, so we don’t want to get there. The hockey stick suggests an exponential rise, which is hard for me to believe because there is only so much carbon we can burn.

dappled_leaves's avatar

@RocketGuy Well… the hockey stick suggests a linear increase. An exponential increase would look like the beginning of your preferred S curve. :P

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

The hockey graph is clearly baloney. The alarmists have hurt the credibility of this greatly. From what I understand of the hockey graph is that tree ring data was used and that they threw some of the data that does not fit the trend out. You really can’t do that in a scientific study. You can separate it and explain that some data does not fit but you must include this information. I’m pretty confident that we are contributing to the CO2 increase. I think that the Stefan–Boltzmann law is solid science but I don’t believe for a second that 99% of climatologists agree on the magnitude of change or how the feedback mechanisms work. I think we need to make serious changes just not how the politicians want us to do it. They should basically step aside along with the alarmists, deniers and profiteers. We don’t have a clear picture of what will happen but we should make every practical effort possible to mitigate our impact regardless. That is the right thing to do even if we find out there will be little climate impact.

dappled_leaves's avatar

This is exactly the crux of the problem: conservatives listen to data geeks arguing between the precise shape and magnitude of the curve (because this is what we love to do!), and hear one word – controversy. The fact is, we all agree that it is a dramatic and worrisome increase.

Kropotkin's avatar

@ARE_you_kidding_me ” From what I understand of the hockey graph is that tree ring data was used and that they threw some of the data that does not fit the trend out.”

You’re referring the divergence problem. The more recent tree ring data was removed because it was not a reliable proxy for that period—and not because it “didn’t fit the trend”.

There’s no point using data that’s not reliable. Ironically, it’s the climate change that’s likely affecting tree growth and making them an unreliable proxy for this period (post 1960).

Since I’m just a layperson and not a climatologist—you don’t have to take my word for it. You can find the relevant research or perhaps e-mail an expert climatologist—or in this case a dendrologist.

Kropotkin's avatar

@ARE_you_kidding_me And before you go on. It is explained in the scientific literature.

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

@Kropotkin Great, that’s a good thing. Do you have a link? Why do they think the new tree ring data is not a valid proxy and the old is?

Kropotkin's avatar

@ARE_you_kidding_me The tree ring data is calibrated with the instrumental temperature record, which goes back to the mid 19th century. It was around 1960 that the tree ring data started diverging from the instrumental record. I’ve read that the divergence problem is predominantly a northern hemisphere effect for sites at high latitudes.

It’s hypothesised that it could be drought stress, changes in the seasons, or global dimming from aerosols—among other suggestions.

Before the divergence problem, tree ring data is accurate to the beginning of the instrumental record. I don’t know how they can be sure of its accuracy before the instrumental record or how they account for unknown divergences. The suggestion is that the anomaly is uniquely due to recent human activities which would not have occurred in the past. I also expect ancient tree ring data is compared to other types of proxies like ice core and sediment data.

If you can stomach a stuffy and long research paper, these issues are discussed in this paper

Otherwise there’s Wikipedia

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

@Kropotkin Thanks, good link. It’s a fascinating problem. Collecting, trending and generally bringing data together like this is very interesting to me. I’m still a bit skeptical of the magnitude of the hockey graph though. Personally I react much more when looking at all the data charted separately such as atmospheric measurements, ice cores, subsurface readings, etc. They may not show such a sharp trend but the correlation of all of these different sources speaks volumes about recent warming natural or not. Calibrating old readings and correlating ancient data sources would be a problem, looks like doing so with tree ring data has some problems as well.
The CO2 increase is not natural so regardless something needs to be done about it. I really think that this is the direction discussions need to be moving to.

stanleybmanly's avatar

The authenticity of global warming from human activity is disputed by conservatives simply because remediation or even reduction in the levels of crap spewing into the air is “bad for business”. Reductions in the rate of short term profits are to be resisted REGARDLESS of whether or not there are legitimate reasons or even predictable foreseeable catastrophic consequences. The global warming debate is just another in the ongoing stream of examples verifying Marx’s rather astute observation that you could pick a capitalist out of a crowd because he would be the man eager to sell you the rope with which to hang him.

RocketGuy's avatar

Man made CO2 is the problem. Glaciers are melting, coral is dying, fisheries are diminishing. They deny, but the richest ones are setting themselves up to profit from it. The others are just saving their money, because life will become really expensive in the future.

Jaxk's avatar


If we do anything at all, it is a political issue. You say ” These changes will make certain current ways of life impossible.” But the responses I’ve heard also make current ways of life impossible. Right or wrong, fossil fuels drive our economy and the economies of the western world. Emerging nations rely heavily on fossil fuels to jump start their economies. A dramatic cutback in the use of fossil fuels would mean economic disaster and massive food shortages. The outlook is not good but before we go down the road of the Donner Party and start eating our own, I’d like to make sure spring is not just around the corner.

There is no current alternative for fossil fuels. And frankly, I think we are much more likely to find one if we are prosperous. Bankrupting the country in a rush to eliminate fossil fuels seems like a bad idea to me. I don’t want to go back top living in a cave and growing my own corn.

SavoirFaire's avatar

@Jaxk See? It worked! I finally got you to focus on the real issue. I don’t disagree with anything in your response (though I’m sure we’d disagree on some of the details if we kept discussion). In fact, your first sentence is precisely the point I made in my first answer above.

But you finally aren’t trying to pretend that global warming isn’t happening—and lo and behold, dropping the pretense finally allowed you to present a coherent argument that a rational person might believe. That’s where the discussion needs to be: not on the scientific facts, but on what to do about them.

Mission accomplished.

KNOWITALL's avatar

@Dutchess How many here actually try to live green.

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

@KNOWITALL even when people try to live that way they often end up getting it wrong. So many “green” solutions are actually worse but they are just marketed well. Right now one of my biggest peeves are fully electric cars.

RocketGuy's avatar

We insulated the crap out of our house, and put in a whole house fan. Now we need A/C only a few days a year. A/C is an energy hog. We kept our old compressor, which was sized for a conventional 1200 sf house, instead of replacing it with a bigger, more energy consuming unit. It gets our renovated house (2000 sf) a lot cooler than it ever got before, due to the insulation. That includes dual pane windows throughout.

We have switched to all CFL lighting, and my main home computer is a laptop. All appliances are Energy Star rated, particularly the washer, dryer, and fridge. We just replaced our water heater with a much more efficient unit. If I had known the old one was so inefficient, I would have replaced it earlier. Our HVAC heater is also Energy Star, with dual stage fan.

We replaced our front lawn with drought-tolerant plants to greatly reduce water use. Our toilets are low flow or ultralow flow.

I have always driven econocars, and switched to a Prius 7.5 years ago. I estimate that I have saved >2000 gallons of gas because of it. I use the Waze app to optimize my commute. I telecommute every now and then to save even more gas. My wife switched from a minivan (17 MPG gas hog) to a Jetta Sportwagen (27 MPG).

We got an RO water system and Camelback water bottles because the kids were sucking down >200 water bottles a year. Disposable water bottles are such a waste of plastic (petroleum products), and transporting water by car from the store is a waste of gas. Even without disposable water bottles anymore, we recycle more than we throw into the trash.

Dutchess_III's avatar

@KNOWITALL OK. I see what you’re saying now. I could do a whole lot better than I do right now to try and live green.

KNOWITALL's avatar

@Dutchess We all could but it’s easier to gripe. rocketguy is one of the few doing it, which I admire.

hominid's avatar

This report shows the inaccuracy of cable news networks’ coverage of climate science. Note that Fox news fairs pretty poorly. Some percentage of the population considers Fox News to reflect reality, so it’s not surprising there is confusion.

RocketGuy's avatar

My wife is a LEED-certified architect, and I hate paying high utility and gasoline costs.

It occurred to me just last week that vegans are quite green. No rain forests burned down for grazing land, no methane generated by cow intestines. They eat plants, which absorb CO2. They like minimally processed foods. Some even cook to no more than 118°F to prevent heat damage to nutrients, which means they use less fossil fuel cooking.

I’m not green enough to go vegan – I like my meat, cheese, and eggs and I like them properly cooked.

Jaxk's avatar


I’m not sure I got to the place you think I did. Most of the things you guys want, I have no problem with but not because of global warming. You want energy efficient, OK that saves money so I have no problem. Hell, I’ll even take a page from @RocketGuy‘s book and say I’m saving the planet because I like my steak rare so it takes less energy to cook.

If you want more than just recycling or energy efficient appliances however, We’ll have to go back to the science. You’ll need to convince me that not only is global warming happening but that it is man made and that there is some definable disaster that will come of it. Once you’ve convinced me of that, you’ll need to convince me that we can alter the climate in a positive way that won’t have equally disastrous results and is not being done for purely political purposes. Trust me all that will take some work, I’m certainly not there yet.

ragingloli's avatar

just as likely as convincing Ken Ham of evolution

SavoirFaire's avatar

@Jaxk Who are these “you guys” you’re trying to group me in with? Because if you look at my answers, you’ll see that I have not made any political recommendations one way or the other on this thread. All I have said is that I accept the fact of anthropogenic global warming. You are then trying to take this information as evidence that I endorse some sort of political agenda, but that is precisely the strategic error that I have been pointing out.

The strategic error here is that you are unwittingly conceding the first premise of the liberal argument (i.e., that if anthropogenic global warming is occurring, then we must adopt a particular set of environmental reforms). But my point has been that this is the premise you should contest. The science isn’t subject to political debate. The response is. Thus if conservatives want to have an intellectually respectable position, they should be discussing the response rather than the science.

I managed to get you to focus on the real issue for one post, but now it seems like you are back to the intellectually indefensible position of denying the very clear science on the issue (and it is clear, regardless of whether you personally understand it). There is no sense in denying that global warming is happening nor that it is man made. That’s not where the actual issue lies. You can grant all that—even if just for the sake of argument—and still resist all of the political implications that you dislike.

All the science denial gets you, then, is disdain—which is not something anyone should want to bring upon themselves or their beliefs. It just makes it easier for the other side to achieve victory. But hey, it’s up to you if you want to make the debate easier for your opponents. I’ve given you a free lesson in argumentative method. Use it or ignore it as you wish.

Kropotkin's avatar

In terms of rhetoric and persuasion—we have it all wrong.

It would be much more effective to associate climate change denial with communism. It doesn’t matter how outlandishly untrue this is—it just needs to be repeated often enough.

Communism is bad. Climate change denial is like communism. Climate change denial is bad. I’ll actually experiment with this in some online forums. Does anyone have any ideas of how to associate climate change denial with communism? It will be necessarily specious.

In terms of what can be done politically and how to respond to climate change. I remain pessimistic. I don’t think there’s anything that can work within a capitalist framework, and governments are at best accepting of climate change but impotent, and in many cases complicit in the denial industry because they’re bought out by business interests which profit from increased consumption, consumerism, and the use of fossil fuels.

Climate change is increasing the chance of an agricultural crisis, and I have some dim and distant plans to secure my own food requirements by growing my own food, and also wanting to get off the grid and try to live in as much of a closed ecological system as I can. F— the rest of the world. It’s every man for himself!

Jaxk's avatar


The ‘you guys’ refers to the ‘settled science’ crowd. You say science is not subject to political debate but science is never settled either. I thought science is always open to question. I also have a problem with how much of all this am I supposed to accept without question. Is there any part that can be still questioned? There are some things that can still be questioned, I’m just not sure how much.

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

Geez, if it is real, if it isn’t lets just all be happy if the temperature never dips below 77 deg Fahrenheit.

ragingloli's avatar

Have a go at it. Here are the components you have to demonstrate in order to show that anthropogenic global warming/climate change is not happening:

1. Demonstrate that global average temperatures are not rising. and/or
2. Demonstrate that global CO2 and other greenhouse gases’ (like methane) levels are not rising. and/or
2.a. Demonstrate that if global greenhouse gas levels are rising, that they are not rising because of human activity. and/or
3. Demonstrate that CO2/Methane do not produce a greenhouse effect.

Good luck.

CWOTUS's avatar

Really, @ragingloli? We only get to be skeptical about the things that you say we need to be skeptical about, meaning gods you don’t like and invisible pink unicorns?

It seems to me that the default – correctly skeptical – approach to climate science would be:
1. Determine what a “global average temperature” even is, including how deep into the crust that “global average” extends, as well as how high in the atmosphere.

2. Prove that the temperature recording is consistent, accurate, controlled for changes to locale where the instrumentation is placed, quality of the measurements over time, and all other variables involved with temperature measurement widely dispersed over the globe and over the time period involved.

3. Demonstrate that CO2, methane, water vapor and other greenhouse gas concentration causes temperature increase, and prove that they are not “an effect of” warming.

4. Make accurate predictions of future temperatures based on a model (which remains to be developed, due to its complexity and our continued lack of full understanding) which will demonstrate realistic changes to be expected at various points based on varying inputs to the model.

No matter how you feel items 1–3 have been accomplished, #4 is a glaring and full “miss” on the part of the non-skeptics. But that’s okay, because Fluther is accepting of all religions, and we won’t criticize yours too harshly here, either.

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

Most true skeptics would never disagree with #2 or #3. They (and myself to a degree) would raise questions about #1 & 2a. It’s also not so much a skepticism of the science but more about the volume of the alarm bells and some of the politics.

BiZhen's avatar

I know older people who tell me that the alarmists were predicting an imminent Ice Age not so long ago, and now, it has switched to “Global Warming-Climate Change-Global Climate Variation”. This is similar to “Genesis 1 & 2— Creationism- Creation Science- Intelligent Design! Both are more religion and politics than genuine science.

Dutchess_III's avatar

If they were predicting an ice age, they were doing so in a complete void of scientific evidence @BiZhen. That is not the case with global warming.

BiZhen's avatar

@Dutchess III, They claimed they had scientific evidence, just as the neo-alarmists make the same claim. Both are more religion and politics than genuine science.

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

There was no void of evidence, there was just not much. There were some articles in the 70’s that predicted a new ice age but it was not front page stuff and perhaps ⅓ of scientists thought cooling was the case.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Claiming they had scientific evidence is a far cry from proving it, or providing their sources. I can claim I’m a werewolf. Doesn’t make it so.

Kropotkin's avatar

“I know older people who tell me that the alarmists were predicting an imminent Ice Age not so long ago”

@BiZhen You know a lot of older people who are giving you incorrect information.

What was predicted was a slow return to the next glacial period over the next many thousands of years.

There was also this research that stated that an “Ice Age” could be triggered if atmospheric aerosol concentrations increased. Except that aerosol use declined.

Most research, and the predominant view, has always been that CO2 release will warm the Earth, and consequently change its climate.

”. . . and now, it has switched to “Global Warming-Climate Change-Global Climate Variation””

Do you know what the “CC” means in the “IPCC”? Do you know what year the IPCC was formed? Are you aware that “climate change” and “global warming” have both been used in the scientific literature for decades, and that they refer to different but related concepts?

“They claimed they had scientific evidence, just as the neo-alarmists make the same claim. Both are more religion and politics than genuine science.”

It’s creationists who often claim that evolution isn’t genuine science, and that it’s based on faith, and motivated by politics. And in your attempt to associate climatology with creationism, you are using the exact form of rhetoric used by creationists! The irony is really quite something.

Jaxk's avatar

here is a century of global warming and cooling predictions. It seems to cycle. This time line was compiled by the Farmers Almanac. Funny how we scream global warming for a couple decades, then predict another ice age. @BiZhen has some support here and frankly I can remember the stories on an impending ice age from the 70s. I was a little too young to remember the 1800s.

Dutchess_III's avatar

When it comes to “global warming,” whether it’s true or not, the point is moot. We have to find alternate sources of energy, other than fossil fuels because we’re going to run out of fossil fuels.

Kropotkin's avatar

@Jaxk Sensationalistic headlines in the media do not accurately represent or measure the conclusions of scientists.

Not one thing in that time-line cites a scientific source, or measures the number of research papers supporting one hypothesis or another.

Yes, you may well remember “screams” and “stories”. If there’s any lesson to be learned from this, it’s to check your sources and not rely on hearsay or media reports for science.

Jaxk's avatar


It actually went a bit further than just sensational headlines. Here’s a letter from a coup[le of Scientists to President Nixon

Dear Mr. President:

Aware of your deep concern with the future of the world, we feel obliged to inform you on the results of the scientific conference held here recently. The conference dealt with the past and future changes of climate and was attended by 42 top American and European investigators. We enclose the summary report published in Science and further publications are forthcoming in Quaternary Research.

The main conclusion of the meeting was that a global deterioration of climate, by order of magnitude larger than any hitherto experience by civilized mankind, is a very real possibility and indeed may be due very soon.

The cooling has natural cause and falls within the rank of processes which produced the last ice age. This is a surprising result based largely on recent studies of deep sea sediments.

Existing data still do not allow forecast of the precise timing of the predicted development, nor the assessment of the man’s interference with the natural trends. It could not be excluded however that the cooling now under way in the Northern Hemisphere is the start of the expected shift. The present rate of the cooling seems fast enough to bring glacial temperatures in about a century, if continuing at the present pace.

The practical consequences which might be brought by such developments to existing social institution are among others:

(1) Substantially lowered food production due to the shorter growing seasons and changed rain distribution in the main grain producing belts of the world, with Eastern Europe and Central Asia to be first affected.

(2) Increased frequency and amplitude of extreme weather anomalies such as those bringing floods, snowstorms, killing frosts, etc.

With the efficient help of the world leaders, the research …

With best regards,

George J. Kukla (Lamont-Doherty Geological Observatory)

R. K. Matthews (Chairman, Dept of Geological Sciences, Brown U)

I would have to believe is it good that we didn’t follow some of the recommendations such as spreading soot over the artic to melt the ice. Apparently we can all over react, even scientists.

Kropotkin's avatar

@Jaxk Kukla still thinks he’s right, by the way. His hypothesis is that the observed global warming is a precursor to the next glacial period (“Ice Age”).

There have always been and always will be individual scientists who take contrarian and dissident positions with their own hypotheses, on the fringes of academia, and accepted by almost no one else.

It doesn’t matter how passionate and forceful individual scientists may be when promoting their hypothesis—such as writing to the President—the only relevant measure is whether the hypothesis is demonstrated and accepted by his scientific peers. In this case, it wasn’t, and still isn’t.

Regardless, even in the 70s, when the science was much less mature than it is now, and the conclusions of climate scientists could be accepted with much less confidence than today—the general view was still that human released CO2 would warm the Earth.

Jaxk's avatar


It would seem from the letter, that it is more than just Kukla since he is only the coauthor and it references the conference on climate change.

I’m not trying to argue that every body held this view nor that there were no dissenters. Only that this issue has gone back and forth between cooling and warming for more than a hundred years now. You wanted evidence that science was involved so I gave it to you. You can’t keep saying “that one doesn’t count”, every time I give you what you ask for. I’m not ready to jump on board with the settled science argument just because they took a vote. How about a recount?

dappled_leaves's avatar

@Jaxk Actually, you can keep saying that “one doesn’t count” if the opposite idea is held by thousands of people.

Kropotkin's avatar

Here’s your recount @Jaxk

” We find that 66.4% of abstracts expressed no position on AGW, 32.6% endorsed AGW, 0.7% rejected AGW and 0.3% were uncertain about the cause of global warming.”

” Among abstracts expressing a position on AGW, 97.1% endorsed the consensus position that humans are causing global warming.”

“Our analysis indicates that the number of papers rejecting the consensus on AGW is a vanishingly small proportion of the published research.”

BiZhen's avatar

There are articles in media sources that prove there was hysteria about an imminent Ice Age. Some people want to try to justify the new hysteria that is used by swindlers, e.g. Al Gore.

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Grant_Barnes's avatar

Among other reasons:

“Conservative think tanks, conservative media, corporations, and industry associations (especially for the fossil fuels industry)—domains dominated by conservative white males—have spearheaded the attacks on climate science and policy from the late 1980s to the present,” McCright and Dunlap concluded in their study. “The results presented here show that conservative white males in the general public have become a very receptive audience for these efforts.”

kritiper's avatar

They feel that they are so blessed, so loved, so special, and so appreciated by their “God” that “He” would/could NEVER bring such a calamity upon his chosen children.

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