Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Climate Change Denial Watch - Heartland Institute

UWE, Bristol is currently host to an interesting event about the psychology of climate change - as in why given the pressing nature of the issue, do we have such trouble adapting our behaviour? I'm no expert, but I suspect the issue has a lot to do with the nature of how our minds work and process threat; I include links to two (1,2) YouTube videos that explain the evolutionary psychology view - that the threat of global warming is very slow and very global whereas our threat response system have evolved to deal with fast, immediate and personal threats. It's an interesting subject and I'm keen to see what the research in this area has to say.

Meanwhile on the other side of the planet, the right-wing thinktank, the Heartland Institute, which looks to push free-market solutions to solve societies problems, and must bolstered by the huge success of the free-market ethos in deregulating banking, is having it's own conference on global warming denial. The event is a veritable whos-whos of the denial industry - and most interestingly can only claim a total of three scientists who's work is related to climatology - and given this is the global event of denialism, that's like having an International Beer & Brewing Expo and only having a couple wine brewers in attendance. Not much of a piss-up. The cadre of online denailists have been keen to push the idea that consensus on climate changing is falling apart and more and more people are seeing 'the truth' but if the attendance at the event is anything to go by, it is the total opposite; when announced the event was billed at brining together 1000 scientists, economists and politicians. Then it dropped to 800 and now it seems there is only 600 attending (including that amazing 3-ish proper scientists but lots of amateurs!) - and this given the event is free and held in the land of the free, the spiritual home of denailism - it seems a poor turnout.

In science, public opinion and in politics, global warming denailism is in retreat - In February 2009 Michael Shermer, editor of Sceptic Magazine told a packed audience of hundreds in Bristol that the methodological approach of global warming denailism mirrored that of holocaust denial and creationism. In 2006 US Republican strategist Frank Luntz who had written the playbook on global warming denial for George Bush conceded that the science was correct, it is happening and human activity is causing it. In 2008 oil giant Exxon followed suit in admitting the reality and stopped funding junk-sceince campaigns to discredit the consensus.

However in right-wing politics, where the issue is charged with emotion, hate-speech radio host Rush Limbaugh still pushes the same old discredited denial slogans and there has been a huge upsurge in lobbying by polluting industries fearful of loosing their 'right to pollute' as Obama appoints credible scientists to positions of power.


Anonymous said...

"Meanwhile on the other side of the planet" - nice. reality providing its own metaphors.

Anonymous said...

Ignorant garbage. Who wrote this article?

anarchist said...

I did. Thanks for the kind words.

Anonymous said...

Interesting to note that the same ultra-conservative characters who garbled truths during the recent election are at work on the climate change (global warming) issue. See today's "Washington Post" ad. Are they ever to be ashamed of themselves?

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Helenolderbutwiser said...

Check out Dan Kahan's paper "Fixing the communications failure" on why cultural values influence what and whom we believe.