Guest essay by Eric Worrall
According to New Zealand Academic David Hall, climate deniers actually accept the climate crisis on some level, but can’t face reality.
Climate explained: why some people still think climate change isn’t real
David HallSenior Researcher in Politics, Auckland University of Technology
October 9, 2019 5.56am AEDT
Why do people still think climate change isn’t real?
At its heart, climate change denial is a conflict between facts and values. People deny the climate crisis because, to them, it just feels wrong.
Sigmund Freud and his daughter Anna were the great chroniclers of denial. Sigmund described this negation of reality as an active mental process, as “a way of taking cognisance of what is repressed”. This fleeting comprehension is what distinguishes denial from ignorance, misunderstanding or sheer disbelief. Climate change denial involves glimpsing the horrible reality, but defending oneself against it.
Contemporary social psychologists tend to talk about this in terms of “motivated reasoning”. Because the facts of climate science are in conflict with people’s existing beliefs and values, they reason around the facts.
When this happens – as social psychologist Jonathan Haidt memorably put it – they aren’t reasoning in the careful manner of a judge who impartially weighs up all the evidence. Instead, they’re reasoning in the manner of a defence lawyer who clutches for post hoc rationalisations to defend an initial gut instinct. This is why brow-beating deniers with further climate science is unlikely to succeed: their faculty of reason is motivated to defend itself from revising its beliefs.
In sum, denial is repressed knowledge. For climate change, this repression occurs at both the psychological level and social level, with the latter providing fodder for the former. This is a dismal scenario, but it shines some light on the way forward.
…Read more: https://theconversation.com/climate-explained-why-some-people-still-think-climate-change-isnt-real-124763
What is this awful reality we are supposed to be trying to escape?
If CO2 was a genuine issue, all we would need to do to dramatically cut CO2 emissions is copy the 1970s French nuclear programme. France generates over 70% of their electricity from nuclear. Sweden generates 35-40%. Sweden and France are living proof that going nuclear is affordable, safe and effective; the rest of the world could easily do the same.
Why is the prospect of going nuclear supposed to be so traumatic? I’m a fan of nuclear power. If I thought there was the slightest chance CO2 was a problem, I would be campaigning hard for more nuclear power.
Suggestions that climate skeptics can’t cope with the societal adjustments which would be required to substantially reduce CO2 emissions are lazy intellectual absurdities.