What difference does it make? It doesn’t take a rocket scientist – or even a climate scientist – to figure out the general public and ALL politicians need to WAKE the F UP! I was thinking, what I need is someone to help me understand the entrenched denial and the do-nothing opposition surrounding the science of climate change. Magically, it appeared in my Twitterfeed as a Salon interview with Australian psychologist Stephan Lewandowsky who has intensely studied the psychology of denial!
In the paper on conspiracist ideation and worldviews, the authors wrote, “The prominence of conspiracist ideation in science rejection is not unexpected in light of its cognitive attributes.” For one thing, it provides an out for people who don’t like what the consensus says. “If you are faced with agreement among scientists, you have two choices,” Lewandowsky told me. “You either accept that they are on to something or… You think they all conspire to create a hoax for some nefarious reason. There aren’t too many other options, are there?”
“When you look at the history of science denial, there is plenty of evidence that a scientific consensus drives deniers into postulating such a conspiracy — from tobacco to AIDS to climate.”
A second reason conspiracist ideation crops up in resisting science is that it has greater explanatory reach than science, because it’s not constrained by “the criteria of consistency and coherence that characterize scientific reasoning.”
“In the case of climate, this is — humorously — known as the ‘Quantum theory of denial,’” Lewandowsky told me. “Deniers will claim in the same breath (or within a few minutes) that (a) temperatures cannot be measured reliably, (b) there is definitely no warming, (c) the warming isn’t caused by humans, and (d) we are doing ourselves a favor by warming the planet. The four propositions are incoherent because they cannot all be simultaneously true — and yet deniers will utter all those in close succession all the time.”1
Climate change or “just” pollution, we can argue about it until the end of human life on Planet Earth. But does it really matter? It is incredibly obvious that something IS happening, whatever the root cause of the increasingly extreme global weather.
Either way, what kind of compassionless soul does not recognize that limiting our carbon emissions is essential for future generations – their grandchildren and great-grandchildren and so on? How can anyone NOT want their descendants to live in a world with LESS (or at LEAST not more) pollution? The do-nothing politicians risk the survival of their own blood relatives and, oh, yeah, all humanity. Your great great-grandchildren will not care about your political dogma if it meant you did nothing or, worse, acted against change.
So if, for whatever reason, climate change is big and scary or non-existent in your world, do SOMETHING anyway, STAND UP to reduce carbon emission levels, urge your politicians to ACT and give future generations a fighting chance. It matters NOW. Anything less is beyond deplorable.
public domain image by Janet Ward, NOAA HPCC