Climate change denial

Climate change denial, or global warming denial is denial, dismissal, or unwarranted doubt that contradicts the scientific consensus on climate change, including the extent to which it is caused by humans, its effects on nature and human society, or the potential of adaptation to global warming by human actions.[2][3][4] Many who deny, dismiss, or hold unwarranted doubt about the scientific consensus on anthropogenic global warming self-label as "climate change skeptics",[5][3] which several scientists have noted is an inaccurate description.[6][7][8] Climate change denial can also be implicit, when individuals or social groups accept the science but fail to come to terms with it or to translate their acceptance into action.[9] Several social science studies have analyzed these positions as forms of denialism,[10][11] pseudoscience,[12] or propaganda.[13]

The campaign to undermine public trust in climate science has been described as a "denial machine" organized by industrial, political and ideological interests, and supported by conservative media and skeptical bloggers to manufacture uncertainty about global warming.[14][15][16]

The politics of global warming have been affected by climate change denial and the political global warming controversy, undermining the efforts to act on climate change or adapting to the warming climate.[17][13][18] Those promoting denial commonly use rhetorical tactics to give the appearance of a scientific controversy where there is none.[19][20]

Organised campaigning to undermine public trust in climate science is associated with conservative economic policies and backed by industrial interests opposed to the regulation of CO
emissions.[21] Climate change denial has been associated with the fossil fuels lobby, the Koch brothers, industry advocates and conservative think tanks, often in the United States.[13][22][23][24] More than 90% of papers sceptical on climate change originate from right-wing think tanks.[25]

Since the late 1970s, oil companies have published research broadly in line with the standard views on global warming. Despite this, oil companies organized a climate change denial campaign to disseminate public disinformation for several decades, a strategy that has been compared to the organized denial of the hazards of tobacco smoking by the tobacco industry.[26][27][28]


"Climate change skepticism" and "climate change denial" refer to denial, dismissal or unwarranted doubt of the scientific consensus on the rate and extent of global warming, its significance, or its connection to human behavior, in whole or in part.[29][30] Though there is a distinction between skepticism which indicates doubting the truth of an assertion and outright denial of the truth of an assertion, in the public debate phrases such as "climate scepticism" have frequently been used with the same meaning as climate denialism or contrarianism.[31][32]

The terminology emerged in the 1990s. Even though all scientists adhere to scientific skepticism as an inherent part of the process, by mid November 1995 the word "skeptic" was being used specifically for the minority who publicized views contrary to the scientific consensus. This small group of scientists presented their views in public statements and the media, rather than to the scientific community.[33][34] This usage continued.[35] In his December 1995 article "The Heat is On: The warming of the world's climate sparks a blaze of denial", Ross Gelbspan said industry had engaged "a small band of skeptics" to confuse public opinion in a "persistent and well-funded campaign of denial".[36] His 1997 book The Heat is On may have been the first to concentrate specifically on the topic.[37] In it, Gelbspan discussed a "pervasive denial of global warming" in a "persistent campaign of denial and suppression" involving "undisclosed funding of these 'greenhouse skeptics' " with "the climate skeptics" confusing the public and influencing decision makers.[38]

A November 2006 CBC Television documentary on the campaign was titled The Denial Machine.[39][40] In 2007 journalist Sharon Begley reported on the "denial machine",[41] a phrase subsequently used by academics.[15][40]

In addition to explicit denial, social groups have shown implicit denial by accepting the scientific consensus, but failing to come to terms with its implications or take action to reduce the problem.[9] This was exemplified in Kari Norgaard's study of a village in Norway affected by climate change, where residents diverted their attention to other issues.[42]

The terminology is debated: most of those actively rejecting the scientific consensus use the terms skeptic and climate change skepticism, and only a few have expressed preference for being described as deniers,[30][7] but the word "skepticism" is incorrectly used, as scientific skepticism is an intrinsic part of scientific methodology.[8][43][44] The term contrarian is more specific, but used less frequently. In academic literature and journalism, the terms "climate change denial" and "climate change deniers" have well established usage as descriptive terms without any pejorative intent. Both the National Center for Science Education and historian Spencer R. Weart recognise that either option is problematic, but have decided to use "climate change denial" rather than "skepticism".[45][46]

Terms related to "denialism" have been criticised for introducing a moralistic tone, and potentially implying a link with Holocaust denial.[8][47] There have been claims that this link is intentional, which academics have strongly disputed.[48] The usage of "denial" long predates the Holocaust, and is commonly applied in other areas such as HIV/AIDS denialism: the claim is described by John Timmer of Ars Technica as itself being a form of denial.[49]

In December 2014, an open letter from the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry called on the media to stop using the term "skepticism" when referring to climate change denial. They contrasted scientific skepticism—which is "foundational to the scientific method"—with denial—"the a priori rejection of ideas without objective consideration"—and the behavior of those involved in political attempts to undermine climate science. They said "Not all individuals who call themselves climate change skeptics are deniers. But virtually all deniers have falsely branded themselves as skeptics. By perpetrating this misnomer, journalists have granted undeserved credibility to those who reject science and scientific inquiry."[48][50] In June 2015 Media Matters for America were told by The New York Times public editor that the newspaper was increasingly tending to use "denier" when "someone is challenging established science", but assessing this on an individual basis with no fixed policy, and would not use the term when someone was "kind of wishy-washy on the subject or in the middle." The executive director of the Society of Environmental Journalists said that while there was reasonable skepticism about specific issues, she felt that denier was "the most accurate term when someone claims there is no such thing as global warming, or agrees that it exists but denies that it has any cause we could understand or any impact that could be measured."[51]

The Committee for Skeptical Inquiry letter inspired a petition by[52] in which signers were asked to 'Tell the Associated Press: Establish a rule in the AP StyleBook ruling out the use of "skeptic" to describe those who deny scientific facts.' On 22 September 2015, the Associated Press announced "an addition to AP Stylebook entry on global warming" which advised, "to describe those who don’t accept climate science or dispute the world is warming from man-made forces, use climate change doubters or those who reject mainstream climate science. Avoid use of skeptics or deniers."[53][54] On 17 May 2019, The Guardian also rejected use of the term "climate skeptic" in favor of "climate science denier".[55]


Research on the effect of CO
on the climate began in 1824, when Joseph Fourier inferred the existence of the atmospheric "greenhouse effect". In 1860, John Tyndall quantified the effects of greenhouse gases on absorption of infrared radiation. Svante Arrhenius in 1896 showed that coal burning could cause global warming, and in 1938 Guy Stewart Callendar found it already happening to some extent.[56][57] Research advanced rapidly after 1940; from 1957, Roger Revelle alerted the public to risks that fossil fuel burning was "a grandiose scientific experiment" on climate.[58][59] NASA and NOAA took on research, the 1979 Charney Report concluded that substantial warming was already on the way, and "A wait-and-see policy may mean waiting until it is too late."[60][61]

In 1959 a scientist working for Shell suggested in a New Scientist article, that carbon cycles are too vast to upset Nature's balance.[62] By 1966 however, a coal industry research organization, Bituminous Coal Research Inc., published its finding that if then prevailing trends of coal consumption continue, "the temperature of the earth’s atmosphere will increase and that vast changes in the climates of the earth will result.” “Such changes in temperature will cause melting of the polar icecaps, which, in turn, would result in the inundation of many coastal cities, including New York and London."[63] In a discussion following this paper in the same publication, a combustion engineer for Peabody Coal, now Peabody Energy, the world's largest coal supplier, added that the coal industry was merely “buying time” before additional government air pollution regulations would be promulgated to clean the air. Nevertheless, the coal industry for decades thereafter publicly advocated the position that increased carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is beneficial for the planet.[64]

In response to increasing public awareness of the greenhouse effect in the 1970s, conservative reaction built up, denying environmental concerns which could lead to government regulation. With the 1981 Presidency of Ronald Reagan, global warming became a political issue, with immediate plans to cut spending on environmental research, particularly climate-related, and stop funding for CO
monitoring. Reagan appointed as Secretary of Energy James B. Edwards, who said that there was no real global warming problem. Congressman Al Gore had studied under Revelle and was aware of the developing science: he joined others in arranging congressional hearings from 1981 onwards, with testimony by scientists including Revelle, Stephen Schneider and Wallace Smith Broecker. The hearings gained enough public attention to reduce the cuts in atmospheric research.[65] A polarized party-political debate developed. In 1982 Sherwood B. Idso published his book Carbon Dioxide: Friend or Foe? which said increases in CO
would not warm the planet, but would fertilize crops and were "something to be encouraged and not suppressed", while complaining that his theories had been rejected by the "scientific establishment". An Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) report in 1983 said global warming was "not a theoretical problem but a threat whose effects will be felt within a few years", with potentially "catastrophic" consequences.[66] The Reagan administration reacted by calling the report "alarmist", and the dispute got wide news coverage. Public attention turned to other issues, then the 1985 finding of a polar ozone hole brought a swift international response. To the public, this was related to climate change and the possibility of effective action, but news interest faded.[67]

Public attention was renewed amidst summer droughts and heat waves when James Hansen testified to a Congressional hearing on 23 June 1988,[68] stating with high confidence that long term warming was underway with severe warming likely within the next 50 years, and warning of likely storms and floods. There was increasing media attention: the scientific community had reached a broad consensus that the climate was warming, human activity was very likely the primary cause, and there would be significant consequences if the warming trend was not curbed.[69] These facts encouraged discussion about new laws concerning environmental regulation, which was opposed by the fossil fuel industry.[70]

From 1989 onwards industry-funded organisations including the Global Climate Coalition and the George C. Marshall Institute sought to spread doubt among the public, in a strategy already developed by the tobacco industry.[71][72][73] A small group of scientists opposed to the consensus on global warming became politically involved, and with support from conservative political interests, began publishing in books and the press rather than in scientific journals.[74] This small group of scientists included some of the same people that were part of the strategy already tried by the tobacco industry.[75] Spencer Weart identifies this period as the point where legitimate skepticism about basic aspects of climate science was no longer justified, and those spreading mistrust about these issues became deniers.[76] As their arguments were increasingly refuted by the scientific community and new data, deniers turned to political arguments, making personal attacks on the reputation of scientists, and promoting ideas of a global warming conspiracy.[77]

With the 1989 fall of communism and the environmental movement's international reach at the 1992 Rio Earth Summit, the attention of U.S. conservative think tanks, which had been organised in the 1970s as an intellectual counter-movement to socialism, turned from the "red scare" to the "green scare" which they saw as a threat to their aims of private property, free trade market economies and global capitalism. As a counter-movement, they used environmental skepticism to promote denial of the reality of problems such as loss of biodiversity and climate change.[78]

In 1992, an EPA report linked second-hand smoke with lung cancer. The tobacco industry engaged the APCO Worldwide public relations company, which set out a strategy of astroturfing campaigns to cast doubt on the science by linking smoking anxieties with other issues, including global warming, in order to turn public opinion against calls for government intervention. The campaign depicted public concerns as "unfounded fears" supposedly based only on "junk science" in contrast to their "sound science", and operated through front groups, primarily the Advancement of Sound Science Center (TASSC) and its Junk Science website, run by Steven Milloy. A tobacco company memo commented "Doubt is our product since it is the best means of competing with the 'body of fact' that exists in the mind of the general public. It is also the means of establishing a controversy." During the 1990s, the tobacco campaign died away, and TASSC began taking funding from oil companies including Exxon. Its website became central in distributing "almost every kind of climate-change denial that has found its way into the popular press."[79]

In the 1990s, the Marshall Institute began campaigning against increased regulations on environmental issues such as acid rain, ozone depletion, second-hand smoke, and the dangers of DDT.[72][79][75] In each case their argument was that the science was too uncertain to justify any government intervention, a strategy it borrowed from earlier efforts to downplay the health effects of tobacco in the 1980s.[71][73] This campaign would continue for the next two decades.[80]

These efforts succeeded in influencing public perception of climate science.[81] Between 1988 and the 1990s, public discourse shifted from the science and data of climate change to discussion of politics and surrounding controversy.[82]

The campaign to spread doubt continued into the 1990s, including an advertising campaign funded by coal industry advocates intended to "reposition global warming as theory rather than fact,"[83][84] and a 1998 proposal written by the American Petroleum Institute intending to recruit scientists to convince politicians, the media and the public that climate science was too uncertain to warrant environmental regulation.[85] The proposal included a US$ 5,000,000 multi-point strategy to "maximize the impact of scientific views consistent with ours on Congress, the media and other key audiences", with a goal of "raising questions about and undercutting the 'prevailing scientific wisdom'".[86]

In 1998, Gelbspan noted that his fellow journalists accepted that global warming was occurring, but said they were in "'stage-two' denial of the climate crisis", unable to accept the feasibility of answers to the problem.[87] A subsequent book by Milburn and Conrad on The Politics of Denial described "economic and psychological forces" producing denial of the consensus on global warming issues.[88]

These efforts by climate change denial groups were recognized as an organized campaign beginning in the 2000s.[89] The sociologists Riley Dunlap and Aaron McCright played a significant role in this shift when they published an article in 2000 exploring the connection between conservative think tanks and climate change denial.[90] Later work would continue the argument specific groups were marshaling skepticism against climate change - A study in 2008 from the University of Central Florida analyzed the sources of "environmentally skeptical" literature published in the United States. The analysis demonstrated that 92% of the literature was partly or wholly affiliated with a self-proclaimed conservative think tanks.[91] A later piece of research from 2015 identified 4,556 individuals with overlapping network ties to 164 organizations which are responsible for the most efforts to downplay the threat of climate change in the U.S.[92][93]

Gelbspan's Boiling Point, published in 2004, detailed the fossil-fuel industry's campaign to deny climate change and undermine public confidence in climate science.[94] In Newsweek's August 2007 cover story "The Truth About Denial", Sharon Begley reported that "the denial machine is running at full throttle", and said that this "well-coordinated, well-funded campaign" by contrarian scientists, free-market think tanks, and industry had "created a paralyzing fog of doubt around climate change."[41]

Referencing work of sociologists Robert Antonio and Robert Brulle, Wayne A. White has written that climate change denial has become the top priority in a broader agenda against environmental regulation being pursued by neoliberals.[95] Today, climate change skepticism is most prominently seen in the United States, where the media disproportionately features views of the climate change denial community.[96] In addition to the media, the contrarian movement has also been sustained by the growth of the internet, having gained some of its support from internet bloggers, talk radio hosts and newspaper columnists.[97]

The New York Times and others reported in 2015 that oil companies knew that burning oil and gas could cause climate change and global warming since the 1970s but nonetheless funded deniers for years.[26][27] Dana Nuccitelli wrote in The Guardian that a small fringe group of climate deniers were no longer taken seriously at the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference, in an agreement that "we need to stop delaying and start getting serious about preventing a climate crisis."[98] However, The New York Times says any implementation is voluntary and will depend on any future world leaders—and every Republican U.S. presidential candidate in 2016 questioned or denied the science of climate change.[99]

Ernesto Araújo, the new Minister of Foreign Affairs appointed by the newly elected president Brazil's president Jair Bolsonaro has called global warming a plot by "cultural Marxists"[100] and has eliminated the Climate Change Division of the ministry.[101]

Denial networks

The climate change denial industry is most powerful in the United States.[102][103] In the 2016 United States election cycle, every Republican presidential candidate questioned or denied climate change, and opposed U.S. government steps to address climate change as has the Republican leader in the U.S. Senate.[104]

A Pentagon report has pointed out how climate change denial threatens national security.[105] A study from 2015 identified 4,556 individuals with overlapping network ties to 164 organizations which are responsible for the most efforts to downplay the threat of climate change in the U.S.[106][107]

In 2013 the Center for Media and Democracy reported that the State Policy Network (SPN), an umbrella group of 64 U.S. think tanks, had been lobbying on behalf of major corporations and conservative donors to oppose climate change regulation.[108]


The Clexit Coalition claims to be: "A new international organisation (which) aims to prevent ratification of the costly and dangerous Paris global warming treaty".[109] It has members in 26 countries.[110] According to The Guardian newspaper: "Clexit leaders are heavily involved in tobacco and fossil fuel-funded organizations".[111]

Arguments and positions on global warming

Some climate change denial groups say that because CO
is only a trace gas in the atmosphere (roughly 400ppm, or 0.04%, 4 parts per 10,000) it can only have a minor effect on the climate. Scientists have known for over a century that even this small proportion has a significant warming effect, and doubling the proportion leads to a large temperature increase.[113] The scientific consensus, as summarized by the IPCC fourth assessment report, the U.S. Geological Survey, and other reports, is that human activity is the leading cause of climate change. The burning of fossil fuels accounts for around 30 billion tons of CO
each year, which is 130 times the amount produced by volcanoes.[114] Some groups allege that water vapor is a more significant greenhouse gas, and is left out of many climate models.[113] While water vapor is a greenhouse gas, the very short atmospheric lifetime of water vapor (about 10 days) compared that of CO
(hundreds of years) means that CO
is the primary driver of increasing temperatures; water vapour acts as a feedback, not a forcing.[115] Water vapor has been incorporated into climate models since their inception in the late 1800s.[116]

Climate denial groups may also argue that global warming stopped recently, a global warming hiatus, or that global temperatures are actually decreasing, leading to global cooling. These arguments are based on short term fluctuations, and ignore the long term pattern of warming.[117]

These groups often point to natural variability, such as sunspots and cosmic rays, to explain the warming trend.[118] According to these groups, there is natural variability that will abate over time, and human influences have little to do with it. These factors are already taken into account when developing climate models, and the scientific consensus is that they cannot explain the observed warming trend.[119]

At a May 2018 meeting of the United States House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, Alabama's Representative Mo Brooks claimed that sea level rise is caused not by melting glaciers but rather by coastal erosion and silt that flows from rivers into the ocean.[120]

Climate change denial literature often features the suggestion that we should wait for better technologies before addressing climate change, when they will be more affordable and effective.[121]

Conspiracy theories

Global warming conspiracy theories have been posited which allege that the scientific consensus is illusory, or that climatologists are acting on their own financial interests by causing undue alarm about a changing climate.[122][123][124] Despite leaked emails during the Climatic Research Unit email controversy, as well as multinational, independent research on the topic, no evidence of such a conspiracy has been presented, and strong consensus exists among scientists from a multitude of political, social, organizational and national backgrounds about the extent and cause of climate change.[125][126] Several researchers have concluded that around 97% of climate scientists agree with this consensus.[127] As well, much of the data used in climate science is publicly available to be viewed and interpreted by competing researchers as well as the public.[128]

In 2012, research by Stephan Lewandowsky (then of the University of Western Australia) concluded that belief in other conspiracy theories, such as that the FBI was responsible for the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., was associated with being more likely to endorse climate change denial.[129]

In February 2015 climate change denier Jim Inhofe, who had previously called climate change "the greatest hoax ever perpetrated against the American people," claimed to have debunked the alleged hoax when he brought a snowball with him in the U.S. Senate chamber and tossed it across the floor.[130] He was succeeded in 2017 by John Barrasso, who similarly said: "The climate is constantly changing. The role human activity plays is not known."[131]

Taxonomy of climate change denial

In 2004 Stefan Rahmstorf described how the media give the misleading impression that climate change was still disputed within the scientific community, attributing this impression to PR efforts of climate change skeptics. He identified different positions argued by climate skeptics, which he used as a taxonomy of climate change skepticism:[132] Later the model was also applied on denial.[6]

  1. Trend sceptics or deniers (who deny there is global warming), [and] argue that no significant climate warming is taking place at all, claiming that the warming trend measured by weather stations is an artefact due to urbanisation around those stations ("urban heat island effect").
  2. Attribution sceptics or deniers (who accept the global warming trend but see natural causes for this), [and] doubt that human activities are responsible for the observed trends. A few of them even deny that the rise in the atmospheric CO
    content is anthropogenic [while others argue that] additional CO
    does not lead to discernible warming [and] that there must be other—natural—causes for warming.
  3. Impact sceptics or deniers (who think global warming is harmless or even beneficial).

This taxonomy has been used in social science for analysis of publications, and to categorize climate change skepticism and climate change denial.[133][134] Sometimes, a fourth category called "consensus denial" is added, which describes people who question the scientific consensus on anthropogenic global warming.[6]

The National Center for Science Education describes climate change denial as disputing differing points in the scientific consensus, a sequential range of arguments from denying the occurrence of climate change, accepting that but denying any significant human contribution, accepting these but denying scientific findings on how this would affect nature and human society, to accepting all these but denying that humans can mitigate or reduce the problems.[2] James L. Powell provides a more extended list,[4] as does climatologist Michael E. Mann in "six stages of denial", a ladder model whereby deniers have over time conceded acceptance of points, while retreating to a position which still rejects the mainstream consensus:[135]

  1. CO
    is not actually increasing.
  2. Even if it is, the increase has no impact on the climate since there is no convincing evidence of warming.
  3. Even if there is warming, it is due to natural causes.
  4. Even if the warming cannot be explained by natural causes, the human impact is small, and the impact of continued greenhouse gas emissions will be minor.
  5. Even if the current and future projected human effects on Earth's climate are not negligible, the changes are generally going to be good for us.
  6. Whether or not the changes are going to be good for us, humans are very adept at adapting to changes; besides, it's too late to do anything about it, and/or a technological fix is bound to come along when we really need it.[135]

Journalists and newspaper columnists including George Monbiot[136][137][138] and Ellen Goodman,[137] among others,[139][140] have described climate change denial as a form of denialism.[141]

Denialism in this context has been defined by Chris and Mark Hoofnagle as the use of rhetorical devices "to give the appearance of legitimate debate where there is none, an approach that has the ultimate goal of rejecting a proposition on which a scientific consensus exists." This process characteristically uses one or more of the following tactics:[20][142][143]

  1. Allegations that scientific consensus involves conspiring to fake data or suppress the truth: a global warming conspiracy theory.
  2. Fake experts, or individuals with views at odds with established knowledge, at the same time marginalising or denigrating published topic experts. Like the manufactured doubt over smoking and health, a few contrarian scientists oppose the climate consensus, some of them the same individuals.
  3. Selectivity, such as cherry picking atypical or even obsolete papers, in the same way that the MMR vaccine controversy was based on one paper: examples include discredited ideas of the medieval warm period.[143]
  4. Unworkable demands of research, claiming that any uncertainty invalidates the field or exaggerating uncertainty while rejecting probabilities and mathematical models.
  5. Logical fallacies.

In 2015, environmentalist Bill McKibben accused President Obama (widely regarded as strongly in favour of action on climate change[144]) of "Catastrophic Climate-Change Denial", for his approval of oil-drilling permits in offshore Alaska. According to McKibben, the President has also "opened huge swaths of the Powder River basin to new coal mining." McKibben calls this "climate denial of the status quo sort", where the President denies "the meaning of the science, which is that we must keep carbon in the ground." [145]

A study assessed the public perception and actions to climate change, on grounds of belief systems, and identified seven psychological barriers affecting the behavior that otherwise would facilitate mitigation, adaptation, and environmental stewardship. The author found the following barriers: cognition, ideological world views, comparisons to key people, costs and momentum, discredence toward experts and authorities, perceived risks of change, and inadequate behavioral changes.[146]


Various groups, including the National Center for Science Education, have described climate change denial as a form of pseudoscience.[147][148][149] Climate change skepticism, while in some cases professing to do research on climate change, has focused instead on influencing the opinion of the public, legislators and the media, in contrast to legitimate science.[150]

In a review of the book The Pseudoscience Wars: Immanuel Velikovsky and the Birth of the Modern Fringe by Michael D. Gordin, David Morrison wrote:

In his final chapter, Gordin turns to the new phase of pseudoscience, practiced by a few rogue scientists themselves. Climate change denialism is the prime example, where a handful of scientists, allied with an effective PR machine, are publicly challenging the scientific consensus that global warming is real and is due primarily to human consumption of fossil fuels. Scientists have watched in disbelief that as the evidence for global warming has become ever more solid, the deniers have been increasingly successful in the public and political arena. … Today pseudoscience is still with us, and is as dangerous a challenge to science as it ever was in the past.[151]


The total annual income of these climate change counter-movement-organizations is roughly $900 million.[152] Between 2002 and 2010, nearly $120 million (£77 million) was anonymously donated via the Donors Trust and Donors Capital Fund to more than 100 organisations seeking to undermine the public perception of the science on climate change.[153][154]

Public opinion

Public opinion on climate change is significantly affected by media coverage of climate change, and the effects of climate change denial campaigns. Campaigns to undermine public confidence in climate science have decreased public belief in climate change, which in turn have affected legislative efforts to curb CO
emissions.[155]. Another reason why the public is skeptical about climate change is their lack of knowledge.[156]

United States

A poll conducted by The New York Times Magazine in 2006 found that only 56% of Americans believe that average global temperatures have risen even though scientists think that they have. A majority of Americans also believe that scientists are still divided on the issue.[157]

A study found that public climate change policy support and behavior are significantly influenced by public beliefs, attitudes and risk perceptions.[158] As of March 2018 the rate of acceptance among U.S. TV forecasters that the climate is changing has increased to ninety-five percent. The number of local television stories about global warming has also increased, by fifteen-fold. Climate Central has received some of the credit for this because they provide classes for meteorologists and graphics for television stations.[159]

The popular media in the U.S. gives greater attention to climate change skeptics than the scientific community as a whole, and the level of agreement within the scientific community has not been accurately communicated.[160][161][162] In some cases, news outlets have allowed climate change skeptics to explain the science of climate change instead of experts in climatology.[163] US and UK media coverage differ from that presented in other countries, where reporting is more consistent with the scientific literature.[164][165] Some journalists attribute the difference to climate change denial being propagated, mainly in the US, by business-centered organizations employing tactics worked out previously by the US tobacco lobby.[71][166][167] In France, the US and the UK, the opinions of climate change skeptics appear much more frequently in conservative news outlets than other news, and in many cases those opinions are left uncontested.[168]

The efforts of Al Gore and other environmental campaigns have focused on the effects of global warming and have managed to increase awareness and concern, but despite these efforts, the number of Americans believing humans are the cause of global warming was holding steady at 61% in 2007, and those believing the popular media was understating the issue remained about 35%.[169] A recent poll from 2015 suggests that while Americans are growing more aware of the dangers and implications of climate change for future generations, the majority are not worried about it.[170] From a survey conducted in 2004, it was found that more than 30% of news presented in the previous decade showed equal attention to both human and non human contributions to global warming.[171]


It has been suggested that climate change can conflict with a nationalistic view because it is "unsolvable" at the national level and requires collective action between nations or between local communities, and that therefore populist nationalism tends to reject the science of climate change.[172]

In a TED talk Yuval Noah Harari notes:[173]

...nationalism has no solution to climate change. If you want to be a nationalist in the 21st century, you have to deny the problem. If you accept the reality of the problem, then you must accept that, yes, there is still room in the world for patriotism, there is still room in the world for having special loyalties and obligations towards your own people, towards your own country. I don't think anybody is really thinking of abolishing that. But in order to confront climate change, we need additional loyalties and commitments to a level beyond the nation.

On the other hand, it has been argued that effective climate action is polycentric rather than international, and national interest in multilateral groups can be furthered by overcoming climate change denial.[174] Climate change contrarians may believe in a "caricature" of internationalist state intervention that is perceived as threatening national sovereignty, and may re-attribute risks such as flooding to international institutions.[175] UK Independence Party policy on climate change has been influenced by noted contrarian Christopher Monckton and then by its energy spokesman Roger Helmer MEP who stated in a speech "It is not clear that the rise in atmospheric CO2 is anthropogenic".[176]


Efforts to lobby against environmental regulation have included campaigns to manufacture doubt about the science behind climate change, and to obscure the scientific consensus and data.[177] These efforts have undermined public confidence in climate science, and impacted climate change lobbying.[13][155]

The political advocacy organizations FreedomWorks and Americans for Prosperity, funded by brothers David and Charles Koch of Koch Industries, were important in supporting the Tea Party movement and in encouraging the movement to focus on climate change.[178] Other conservative organizations such as the Heritage Foundation, Marshall Institute, Cato Institute and the American Enterprise Institute were significant participants in these lobbying attempts, seeking to halt or eliminate environmental regulations.[179][180]

This approach to downplay the significance of climate change was copied from tobacco lobbyists; in the face of scientific evidence linking tobacco to lung cancer, to prevent or delay the introduction of regulation. Lobbyists attempted to discredit the scientific research by creating doubt and manipulating debate. They worked to discredit the scientists involved, to dispute their findings, and to create and maintain an apparent controversy by promoting claims that contradicted scientific research. ""Doubt is our product," boasted a now infamous 1969 industry memo. Doubt would shield the tobacco industry from litigation and regulation for decades to come."[181] In 2006, George Monbiot wrote in The Guardian about similarities between the methods of groups funded by Exxon, and those of the tobacco giant Philip Morris, including direct attacks on peer-reviewed science, and attempts to create public controversy and doubt.[136]

Former National Academy of Sciences president Frederick Seitz, who, according to an article by Mark Hertsgaard in Vanity Fair, earned about US$585,000 in the 1970s and 1980s as a consultant to R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company,[182] went on to chair groups such as the Science and Environmental Policy Project and the George C. Marshall Institute alleged to have made efforts to "downplay" global warming. Seitz stated in the 1980s that "Global warming is far more a matter of politics than of climate." Seitz authored the Oregon Petition, a document published jointly by the Marshall Institute and Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine in opposition to the Kyoto protocol. The petition and accompanying "Research Review of Global Warming Evidence" claimed:

The proposed limits on greenhouse gases would harm the environment, hinder the advance of science and technology, and damage the health and welfare of mankind. There is no convincing scientific evidence that human release of carbon dioxide, methane, or other greenhouse gases is causing or will, in the foreseeable future, cause catastrophic heating of the Earth's atmosphere and disruption of the Earth's climate. … We are living in an increasingly lush environment of plants and animals as a result of the carbon dioxide increase. Our children will enjoy an Earth with far more plant and animal life than that with which we now are blessed. This is a wonderful and unexpected gift from the Industrial Revolution.[136]

George Monbiot wrote in The Guardian that this petition, which he criticizes as misleading and tied to industry funding, "has been cited by almost every journalist who claims that climate change is a myth." Efforts by climate change denial groups played a significant role in the eventual rejection of the Kyoto protocol in the US.[183]

Monbiot has written about another group founded by the tobacco lobby, The Advancement of Sound Science Coalition (TASSC), that now campaigns against measures to combat global warming. In again trying to manufacture the appearance of a grass-roots movement against "unfounded fear" and "over-regulation," Monbiot states that TASSC "has done more damage to the campaign to halt [climate change] than any other body."[136]

Drexel University environmental sociologist Robert Brulle analysed the funding of 91 organizations opposed to restrictions on carbon emissions, which he termed the "climate change counter-movement." Between 2003 and 2013, the donor-advised funds Donors Trust and Donors Capital Fund, combined, were the largest funders, accounting for about one quarter of the total funds, and the American Enterprise Institute was the largest recipient, 16% of the total funds. The study also found that the amount of money donated to these organizations by means of foundations whose funding sources cannot be traced had risen.[184][185][186][187][188]

Private sector

Several large corporations within the fossil fuel industry provide significant funding for attempts to mislead the public about the trustworthiness of climate science.[189] ExxonMobil and the Koch family foundations have been identified as especially influential funders of climate change contrarianism.[190] The bankruptcy of the coal company Cloud Peak Energy revealed it funded the Institute for Energy Research, a climate denial think tank, as well as several other policy influencers.[191][192]

After the IPCC released its February 2007 report, the American Enterprise Institute offered British, American and other scientists $10,000 plus travel expenses to publish articles critical of the assessment. The institute had received more than US$1.6 million from Exxon, and its vice-chairman of trustees was former head of Exxon Lee Raymond. Raymond sent letters that alleged the IPCC report was not "supported by the analytical work." More than 20 AEI employees worked as consultants to the George W. Bush administration.[193] Despite her initial conviction that climate change denial would abate with time, Senator Barbara Boxer said that when she learned of the AEI's offer, she "realized there was a movement behind this that just wasn't giving up."[194]

The Royal Society conducted a survey that found ExxonMobil had given US$2.9 million to American groups that "misinformed the public about climate change," 39 of which "misrepresented the science of climate change by outright denial of the evidence".[195][196] In 2006, the Royal Society issued a demand that ExxonMobil withdraw funding for climate change denial. The letter drew criticism, notably from Timothy Ball who argued the society attempted to "politicize the private funding of science and to censor scientific debate."[197]

ExxonMobil denied that it has been trying to mislead the public about global warming. A spokesman, Gantt Walton, said that ExxonMobil's funding of research does not mean that it acts to influence the research, and that ExxonMobil supports taking action to curb the output of greenhouse gasses.[198] Research conducted at an Exxon archival collection at the University of Texas and interviews with former employees by journalists indicate the scientific opinion within the company and their public posture towards climate change was contradictory.[199]

Between 1989 and 2002 the Global Climate Coalition, a group of mainly United States businesses, used aggressive lobbying and public relations tactics to oppose action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and fight the Kyoto Protocol. The coalition was financed by large corporations and trade groups from the oil, coal and auto industries. The New York Times reported that "even as the coalition worked to sway opinion [towards skepticism], its own scientific and technical experts were advising that the science backing the role of greenhouse gases in global warming could not be refuted."[200] In 2000, Ford Motor Company was the first company to leave the coalition as a result of pressure from environmentalists,[201] followed by Daimler-Chrysler, Texaco, the Southern Company and General Motors subsequently left to GCC.[202] The organization closed in 2002.

From January 2009 through June 2010, the oil, coal and utility industries spent $500 million in lobby expenditures in opposition to legislation to address climate change.[203][204]

In early 2015, several media reports emerged saying that Willie Soon, a popular scientist among climate change deniers, had failed to disclose conflicts of interest in at least 11 scientific papers published since 2008.[205] They reported that he received a total of $1.25m from ExxonMobil, Southern Company, the American Petroleum Institute and a foundation run by the Koch brothers.[206] Charles R. Alcock, director of the Harvard–Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, where Soon was based, said that allowing funders of Soon's work to prohibit disclosure of funding sources was a mistake, which will not be permitted in future grant agreements.[207]

Public sector

The Republican Party in the United States is unique in denying anthropogenic climate change among conservative political parties across the Western world.[208][209] In 1994, according to a leaked memo, the Republican strategist Frank Luntz advised members of the Republican Party, with regard to climate change, that "you need to continue to make the lack of scientific certainty a primary issue" and "challenge the science" by "recruiting experts who are sympathetic to your view."[194] (In 2006, Luntz said he still believes "back [in] '97, '98, the science was uncertain", but he now agrees with the scientific consensus.)[210] From 2008 to 2017, the Republican Party went from "debating how to combat human-caused climate change to arguing that it does not exist," according to The New York Times.[211] In 2011 "more than half of the Republicans in the House and three-quarters of Republican senators" said "that the threat of global warming, as a man-made and highly threatening phenomenon, is at best an exaggeration and at worst an utter "hoax"" according to Judith Warner writing in The New York Times Magazine.[212] In 2014, more than 55% of congressional Republicans were climate change deniers, according to NBC News.[213][214] According to PolitiFact in May 2014, Jerry Brown's statement that 'virtually no Republican' in Washington accepts climate change science, was "mostly true"; PolitiFact counted "eight out of 278, or about 3 percent" of Republican members of Congress who "accept the prevailing scientific conclusion that global warming is both real and man-made."[215][216]

In 2005, The New York Times reported that Philip Cooney, former fossil fuel lobbyist and "climate team leader" at the American Petroleum Institute and President George W. Bush's chief of staff of the Council on Environmental Quality, had "repeatedly edited government climate reports in ways that play down links between such emissions and global warming, according to internal documents."[217] Sharon Begley reported in Newsweek that Cooney "edited a 2002 report on climate science by sprinkling it with phrases such as 'lack of understanding' and 'considerable uncertainty.'" Cooney reportedly removed an entire section on climate in one report, whereupon another lobbyist sent him a fax saying "You are doing a great job."[194] Cooney announced his resignation two days after the story of his tampering with scientific reports broke,[218] but a few days later it was announced that Cooney would take up a position with ExxonMobil.[219]

United States Secretary of Energy Rick Perry, in a 19 June 2017 interview with CNBC, acknowledged the existence of climate change and impact from humans, but said that he did not agree with the idea that carbon dioxide was the primary driver of global warming pointing instead to "the ocean waters and this environment that we live in".[220] The American Meteorological Society responded in a letter to Perry saying that it is "critically important that you understand that emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases are the primary cause", pointing to conclusions of scientists worldwide.[221]

Republican Jim Bridenstine, the first elected politician to serve as NASA administrator, had previously stated that global temperatures were not rising. A month after the Senate confirmed his NASA position in April 2018, he acknowledged that human emissions of greenhouse gases are raising global temperatures.[222]


According to documents leaked in February 2012, The Heartland Institute is developing a curriculum for use in schools which frames climate change as a scientific controversy.[223][224][225] In 2017, Glenn Branch, Deputy Director of the National Center for Science Education (NCSE), wrote that "the Heartland Institute is continuing to inflict its climate change denial literature on science teachers across the country". He also described how some science teachers were reacting to Heartland's mailings: "Fortunately, the Heartland mailing continues to be greeted with skepticism and dismissed with scorn."[226] The NCSE has prepared Classroom Resources in response to Heartland and other anti-science threats.[227]

Branch also referred to an article by[226] which reviewed an unsolicited Heartland booklet, entitled "Why Scientists Disagree about Global Warming", which was sent to science teachers in the United States. Their intention was to send it to "more than 200,000 K-12 teachers". Each significant claim was rated for accuracy by scientists who were experts on that topic. Overall, they scored the accuracy of the booklet with an "F": "it could hardly score lower", and "the "Key Findings" section are incorrect, misleading, based on flawed logic, or simply factually inaccurate."[228]


Manufactured uncertainty over climate change, the fundamental strategy of climate change denial, has been very effective, particularly in the US. It has contributed to low levels of public concern and to government inaction worldwide.[18][229] An Angus Reid poll released in 2010 indicates that global warming skepticism in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom has been rising.[230][231] There may be multiple causes of this trend, including a focus on economic rather than environmental issues, and a negative perception of the United Nations and its role in discussing climate change.[232]

Another cause may be weariness from overexposure to the topic: secondary polls suggest that the public may have been discouraged by extremism when discussing the topic,[230] while other polls show 54% of U.S. voters believe that "the news media make global warming appear worse than it really is."[233] A poll in 2009 regarding the issue of whether "some scientists have falsified research data to support their own theories and beliefs about global warming" showed that 59% of Americans believed it "at least somewhat likely", with 35% believing it was "very likely".[232]

According to Tim Wirth, "They patterned what they did after the tobacco industry. […] Both figured, sow enough doubt, call the science uncertain and in dispute. That's had a huge impact on both the public and Congress."[71] This approach has been propagated by the US media, presenting a false balance between climate science and climate skeptics.[234] Newsweek reports that the majority of Europe and Japan accept the consensus on scientific climate change, but only one third of Americans considered human activity to play a major role in climate change in 2006; 64% believed that scientists disagreed about it "a lot."[235] A 2007 Newsweek poll found these numbers were declining, although majorities of Americans still believed that scientists were uncertain about climate change and its causes.[236] Rush Holt wrote a piece for Science, which appeared in Newsweek:

… for more than two decades scientists have been issuing warnings that the release of greenhouse gases, principally carbon dioxide (CO
), is probably altering Earth's climate in ways that will be expensive and even deadly. The American public yawned and bought bigger cars. Statements by the American Association for the Advancement of Science, American Geophysical Union, American Meteorological Society, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and others underscored the warnings and called for new government policies to deal with climate change. Politicians, presented with noisy statistics, shrugged, said there is too much doubt among scientists, and did nothing.[237]

Deliberate attempts by the Western Fuels Association "to confuse the public" have succeeded in their objectives. This has been "exacerbated by media treatment of the climate issue". According to a Pew poll in 2012, 57% of the US public are unaware of, or outright reject, the scientific consensus on climate change.[238] Some organizations promoting climate change denial have asserted that scientists are increasingly rejecting climate change, but this notion is contradicted by research showing that 97% of published papers endorse the scientific consensus, and that percentage is increasing with time.[238]

Social psychologist Craig Foster compares climate change denialists to flat-earth believers and the reaction to the latter by the scientific community. Foster states, "the potential and kinetic energy devoted to counter the flat-earth movement is wasteful and misguided... I don't understand why anybody would worry about the flat-earth gnat while facing the climate change mammoth... Climate change denial does not require belief. It only requires neglect."[239]

In 2016, Aaron McCright argued that anti-environmentalism—and climate change denial specifically—has expanded to a point in the US where it has now become "a central tenet of the current conservative and Republican identity."[240]

On the other hand, global oil companies have begun to acknowledge the existence of climate change and its risks.[241] Still top oil firms are spending millions lobbying to delay, weaken or block policies to tackle climate change.[242]

Manufactured climate change denial is also influencing how scientific knowledge is communicated to the public. According to climate scientist Michael E. Mann, "...universities and scientific societies and organizations, publishers, etc.—are too often risk averse when it comes to defending and communicating science that is perceived as threatening by powerful interests..."[243][244]

See also


  1. Brown, Alex (27 August 2013). "Tom Coburn Labels Himself a "Global Warming Denier"". The Atlantic. Retrieved 23 October 2017. citing TulsaWorld [archived article]
  2. National Center for Science Education 2010: "The first pillar of climate change denial—that climate change is bad science—attacks various aspects of the scientific consensus about climate change … there are climate change deniers:
    • who deny that significant climate change is occurring
    • who … deny that human activity is significantly responsible
    • who … deny the scientific evidence about its significant effects on the world and our society …
    • who … deny that humans can take significant actions to reduce or mitigate its impact.
    Of these varieties of climate change denial, the most visible are the first and the second."
  3. "Why Is It Called Denial?". National Center for Science Education. 15 January 2016. Retrieved 21 January 2016.
  4. Powell 2012, pp. 170–173: "Anatomy of Denial—Global warming deniers…. throw up a succession of claims, and fall back from one line of defense to the next as scientists refute each one in turn. Then they start over:
    'The earth is not warming.'
    'All right, it is warming but the Sun is the cause.'
    'Well then, humans are the cause, but it doesn't matter, because it warming will do no harm. More carbon dioxide will actually be beneficial. More crops will grow.'
    'Admittedly, global warming could turn out to be harmful, but we can do nothing about it.'
    'Sure, we could do something about global warming, but the cost would be too great. We have more pressing problems here and now, like AIDS and poverty.'
    'We might be able to afford to do something to address global warming some-day, but we need to wait for sound science, new technologies, and geoengineering.'
    'The earth is not warming. Global warming ended in 1998; it was never a crisis.'
  5. Matthews, Paul (3 April 2015). "Why Are People Skeptical about Climate Change? Some Insights from Blog Comments". Environmental Communication. 9 (2): 153–168. doi:10.1080/17524032.2014.999694. ISSN 1752-4032.
  6. Björnberg, Karin Edvardsson; et al. (2017). "Climate and environmental science denial: A review of the scientific literature published in 1990-2015". Journal of Cleaner Production. 167: 229–241. doi:10.1016/j.jclepro.2017.08.066.
  7. Washington 2013, p. 2: "Many climate change deniers call themselves climate 'skeptics'…However, refusing to accept the overwhelming 'preponderance of evidence' is not skepticism, it is denial and should be called by its true name… The use of the term 'climate skeptic' is a distortion of reality…Skepticism is healthy in both science and society; denial is not."
  8. O'Neill, Saffron J.;; Boykoff, Max (28 September 2010). "Climate denier, skeptic, or contrarian?". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 107 (39): E151. Bibcode:2010PNAS..107E.151O. doi:10.1073/pnas.1010507107. ISSN 0027-8424. PMC 2947866. PMID 20807754. Using the language of denialism brings a moralistic tone into the climate change debate that we would do well to avoid. Further, labeling views as denialist has the potential to inappropriately link such views with Holocaust denial… However, skepticism forms an integral part of the scientific method and thus the term is frequently misapplied in such phrases as "climate change skeptic".
  9. National Center for Science Education 2012: "Climate change denial is most conspicuous when it is explicit, as it is in controversies over climate education. The idea of implicit (or "implicatory") denial, however, is increasingly discussed among those who study the controversies over climate change. Implicit denial occurs when people who accept the scientific community's consensus on the answers to the central questions of climate change on the intellectual level fail to come to terms with it or to translate their acceptance into action. Such people are in denial, so to speak, about climate change."
  10. Dunlap 2013, pp. 691–698: "There is debate over which term is most appropriate… Those involved in challenging climate science label themselves "skeptics"… Yet skepticism is…a common characteristic of scientists, making it inappropriate to allow those who deny AGW to don the mantle of skeptics…It seems best to think of skepticism-denial as a continuum, with some individuals (and interest groups) holding a skeptical view of AGW…and others in complete denial"
  11. Timmer 2014
  12. Sven Ove Hansson: Science denial as a form of pseudoscience. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science 63, (2017), 39-47, doi:10.1016/j.shpsa.2017.05.002
  13. Jacques, Dunlap & Freeman 2008, p. 351: "Conservative think tanks…and their backers launched a full-scale counter-movement… We suggest that this counter-movement has been central to the reversal of US support for environmental protection, both domestically and internationally. Its major tactic has been disputing the seriousness of environmental problems and undermining environmental science by promoting what we term 'environmental scepticism.'"
  14. Vaidyanathan 2014.
  15. Dunlap 2013, pp. 691–698: "From the outset, there has been an organized "disinformation" campaign… to "manufacture uncertainty" over AGW … especially by attacking climate science and scientists … waged by a loose coalition of industrial (especially fossil fuels) interests and conservative foundations and think tanks … often assisted by a small number of 'contrarian scientists. … greatly aided by conservative media and politicians … and more recently by a bevy of skeptical bloggers. This 'denial machine' has played a crucial role in generating skepticism toward AGW among laypeople and policy makers "
  16. Begley 2007: "ICE and the Global Climate Coalition lobbied hard against a global treaty to curb greenhouse gases, and were joined by a central cog in the denial machine: the George C. Marshall Institute, a conservative think tank. .... the denial machine—think tanks linking up with like-minded, contrarian researchers"
  17. Dunlap 2013: "Even though climate science has now firmly established that global warming is occurring, that human activities contribute to this warming… a significant portion of the American public remains ambivalent or unconcerned, and many policymakers (especially in the United States) deny the necessity of taking steps to reduce carbon emissions…From the outset, there has been an organized "disinformation" campaign… to generate skepticism and denial concerning AGW."
  18. Painter & Ashe 2012: "Despite a high degree of consensus amongst publishing climate researchers that global warming is occurring, and that it is anthropogenic, this discourse, promoted largely by non-scientists, has had a significant impact on public perceptions of the issue, fostering the impression that elite opinion is divided as to the nature and extent of the threat."
  19. Hoofnagle, Mark (30 April 2007). "Hello Science blogs (Welcome to Denialism blog)"."Denialism is the employment of rhetorical tactics to give the appearance of argument or legitimate debate, when in actuality there is none. These false arguments are used when one has few or no facts to support one's viewpoint against a scientific consensus or against overwhelming evidence to the contrary. They are effective in distracting from actual useful debate using emotionally appealing, but ultimately empty and illogical assertions. Examples of common topics in which denialists employ their tactics include: Creationism/Intelligent Design, Global Warming denialism …" and "5 general tactics are used by denialists to sow confusion. They are conspiracy, selectivity (cherry-picking), fake experts, impossible expectations (also known as moving goalposts), and general fallacies of logic."
  20. Diethelm & McKee 2009
  21. Klein, Naomi (9 November 2011). "Capitalism vs. the Climate". The Nation. Retrieved 2 January 2012.
  22. Dunlap 2013: "The campaign has been waged by a loose coalition of industrial (especially fossil fuels) interests and conservative foundations and think tanks… These actors are greatly aided by conservative media and politicians, and more recently by a bevy of skeptical bloggers."
  23. David Michaels (2008) Doubt is Their Product: How Industry's Assault on Science Threatens Your Health.
  24. Hoggan, James; Littlemore, Richard (2009). Climate Cover-Up: The Crusade to Deny Global Warming. Vancouver: Greystone Books. ISBN 978-1-55365-485-8. Retrieved 19 March 2010. See, e.g., p31 ff, describing industry-based advocacy strategies in the context of climate change denial, and p73 ff, describing involvement of free-market think tanks in climate-change denial.
  25. Xifra, Jordi (2016). "Climate Change Deniers and Advocacy: A Situational Theory of Publics Approach". American Behavioral Scientist. 60 (3): 276–287. doi:10.1177/0002764215613403. hdl:10230/32970.
  26. Egan, Timothy (5 November 2015). "Exxon Mobil and the G.O.P.: Fossil Fools". The New York Times. Retrieved 9 November 2015.
  27. Goldenberg, Suzanne (8 July 2015). "Exxon knew of climate change in 1981, email says – but it funded deniers for 27 more years". The Guardian. Retrieved 9 November 2015.
  28. 'Shell knew': oil giant's 1991 film warned of climate change danger, The Guardian
  29. Painter & Ashe 2012: "'Climate scepticism' and 'climate denial' are readily used concepts, referring to a discourse that has become important in public debate since climate change was first put firmly on the policy agenda in 1988. This discourse challenges the views of mainstream climate scientists and environmental policy advocates, contending that parts, or all, of the scientific treatment and political interpretation of climate change are unreliable."
  30. National Center for Science Education 2012: "There is debate…about how to refer to the positions that reject, and to the people who doubt or deny, the scientific community's consensus on…climate change. Many such people prefer to call themselves skeptics and describe their position as climate change skepticism. Their opponents, however, often prefer to call such people climate change deniers and to describe their position as climate change denial… "Denial" is the term preferred even by many deniers."
  31. Nerlich 2010, pp. 419, 437: "Climate scepticism in the sense of climate denialism or contrarianism is not a new phenomenon, but it has recently been very much in the media spotlight. …. Such disagreements are not new but the emails provided climate sceptics, in the sense of deniers or contrarians, with a golden opportunity to mount a sustained effort aimed at demonstrating the legitimacy of their views. This allowed them to question climate science and climate policies based on it and to promote political inaction and inertia. …. footnote 1. I shall use "climate sceptics" here in the sense of "climate deniers", although there are obvious differences between scepticism and denial (see Shermer, 2010; Kemp, et al., 2010). However, "climate sceptic" and "climate scepticism" were commonly used during the "climategate" debate as meaning "climate denier"."
  32. Rennie 2009: "Within the community of scientists and others concerned about anthropogenic climate change, those whom Inhofe calls skeptics are more commonly termed contrarians, naysayers and denialists."
  33. Brown 1996, pp. 9, 11 "Indeed, the 'skeptic' scientists14 were perceived to be all the more credible precisely because their views were contrary to the consensus of peer-reviewed science.
    14. All scientists are skeptics because the scientific process demands continuing questioning. In this report, however, the scientists we refer to as 'skeptics' are those who have taken a highly visible public role in criticizing the scientific consensus on ozone depletion and climate change through publications and statements addressed more to the media and the public than to the scientific community."
  34. Gelbspan 1998, pp. 69–70, 246 At 16 November 1995 United States House Science Subcommittee on Energy hearing, Pat Michaels testified of "a small minority" opposing the IPCC assessment, and said "that the so-called skeptics were right".
  35. Antilla 2005, p. footnote 5
  36. Gelbspan 1995
  37. Painter & Ashe 2012: "The term 'climate scepticism' emerged in around 1995, the year journalist Ross Gelbspan authored perhaps the first book focusing directly on what would retrospectively be understood as climate scepticism."
  38. Gelbspan 1998 p. 3 "But some individuals do not want the public to know about the immediacy and extent of the climate threat. They have been waging a persistent campaign of denial and suppression that has been lamentably effective."
    pp. 33–34 "The campaign to keep the climate change off the public agenda involves more than the undisclosed funding of these 'greenhouse skeptics.' In their efforts to challenge the consensus scientific view….."
    p. 35 "If the climate skeptics have succeeded in confusing the general public, their influence on decision makers has been, if anything, even more effective"
    p. 173 "pervasive denial of global warming"
  39. CBC News: the fifth estate 2007: "The Denial Machine investigates the roots of the campaign to negate the science and the threat of global warming. It tracks the activities of a group of scientists, some of whom previously consulted for Big Tobacco, and who are now receiving donations from major coal and oil companies. … The documentary shows how fossil fuel corporations have kept the global warming debate alive long after most scientists believed that global warming was real and had potentially catastrophic consequences. … The Denial Machine also explores how the arguments supported by oil companies were adopted by policy makers in both Canada and the U.S. and helped form government policy."
  40. Orlóci 2008, pp. 86, 97: "The ideological justification for this came from the sceptics (e.g., Lomborg 2001a,b) and from the industrial 'denial machine'. … CBC Television Fifth Estate, 15 November 2006, The Climate Denial Machine, Canada.
  41. Begley 2007: "If you think those who have long challenged the mainstream scientific findings about global warming recognize that the game is over, think again. … outside Hollywood, Manhattan and other habitats of the chattering classes, the denial machine is running at full throttle—and continuing to shape both government policy and public opinion. Since the late 1980s, this well-coordinated, well-funded campaign by contrarian scientists, free-market think tanks and industry has created a paralyzing fog of doubt around climate change. Through advertisements, op-eds, lobbying and media attention, greenhouse doubters (they hate being called deniers) argued first that the world is not warming; measurements indicating otherwise are flawed, they said. Then they claimed that any warming is natural, not caused by human activities. Now they contend that the looming warming will be minuscule and harmless. 'They patterned what they did after the tobacco industry,' says former senator Tim Wirth"
  42. Norgaard, Kari (2011). Living in Denial: Climate Change, Emotions, and Everyday Life. Cambridge, Mass: MIT Press. pp. 1–4. ISBN 978-0-262-01544-8.
  43. Mann, Michael E. (2013). The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars: Dispatches from the Front Lines. Columbia University Press. ISBN 978-0-231-52638-8. Skepticism plays an essential role in the progress of science… Yet…in the context of the climate change denial movement… the term skeptic has often been co-opted to describe those who simply deny, rather than appraise critically.
  44. Jenkins 2015, p. 229: "many who deny the consensus on climate change are not really skeptics but rather contrarians who practice "a kind of one-sided skepticism that entails simply rejecting evidence that challenges one's preconceptions" (Mann 2012:26)"
  45. National Center for Science Education 2012: "Recognizing that no terminological choice is entirely unproblematic, NCSE — in common with a number of scholarly and journalistic observers of the social controversies surrounding climate change — opts to use the terms "climate changer deniers" and "climate change denial""
  46. Weart 2015 footnote 136a: "I do not mean to use the term 'denier' pejoratively—it has been accepted by some of the group as a self-description — but simply to designate those who deny any likelihood of future danger from anthropogenic global warming."
  47. Anderegg, William R. L.;; Prall, James W.; Harold, Jacob (19 July 2010). "Reply to O'Neill and Boykoff: Objective classification of climate experts". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 107 (39): E152. Bibcode:2010PNAS..107E.152A. doi:10.1073/pnas.1010824107. ISSN 0027-8424. PMC 2947900.
  48. Gillis, Justin (12 February 2015). "Verbal Warming: Labels in the Climate Debate". The New York Times. Retrieved 30 June 2015.
  49. Timmer 2014: "some of the people who deserve that label are offended by it, thinking it somehow lumps them in with Holocaust deniers. But that in its own way is a form of denial; the word came into use before the Holocaust, and… denialism has been used as a label for people who refuse to accept the evidence for all sorts of things: HIV causing AIDS, vaccines being safe, etc."
  50. Boslough 2014
  51. "NY Times Public Editor: We're "Moving In A Good Direction" On Properly Describing Climate Deniers". Media Matters for America. 22 June 2015. Retrieved 2 July 2015.
  52. "AP: Deniers Are Not Skeptics!". Oil Change U.S. Washington, D.C. Retrieved 22 May 2019.
  53. Colford, Paul (22 September 2015). "An addition to AP Stylebook entry on global warming". Associated Press. Retrieved 7 October 2019.
  54. Schlanger, Zoë (24 September 2015). "The real skeptics behind the AP decision to put an end to the term 'climate skeptics'". Newsweek. Retrieved 22 May 2019.
  55. Carrington, Damian (17 May 2019). "Why the Guardian is changing the language it uses about the environment". The Guardian. Retrieved 22 May 2019.
  56. Conway & Oreskes 2010, p. 170: "The doubts and confusion of the American people are particularly peculiar when put into historical perspective"
  57. Powell 2012, pp. 36–39
  58. Weart 2015a: "From the late 1940s into the 1960s, many of the papers cited in these essays carried a thought-provoking footnote: "This work was supported by the 'Office of Naval Research.' "
  59. Weart 2007
  60. Weart 2015a: quote p. viii in the Foreword by Climate Research Board chair Verner E. Suomi
  61. Charney, Jule Gregory (23 July 1979). Carbon Dioxide and Climate: A Scientific Assessment, Report of an Ad Hoc Study Group on Carbon Dioxide and Climate. Woods Hole, Massachusetts: National Research Council. doi:10.17226/12181. ISBN 978-0-309-11910-8. Retrieved 22 September 2017.
  62. "US firms knew about global warming in 1968 – what about Australia?". The Conversation. 2016.
  63. Huffington Post, 22 Nov. 2019, "Coal Knew, Too, A Newly Unearthed Journal from 1966 Shows the Coal Industry, Like the Oil Industry, Was Long Aware of the Threat of Climate Change"
  64. Huffington Post, 22 Nov. 2019, "Coal Knew, Too, A Newly Unearthed Journal from 1966 Shows the Coal Industry, Like the Oil Industry, Was Long Aware of the Threat of Climate Change"
  65. Weart 2015a: Global Warming Becomes a Political Issue (1980–1983); "In 1981, Ronald Reagan took the presidency with an administration that openly scorned their concerns. He brought with him a backlash that had been building against the environmental movement. Many conservatives denied nearly every environmental worry, global warming included. They lumped all such concerns together as the rants of business-hating liberals, a Trojan Horse for government regulation." For details, see Money for Keeling: Monitoring CO2
  66. Weart, Spencer R. (30 June 2009). The Discovery of Global Warming. Harvard University Press. ISBN 978-0-674-04497-5.
  67. Weart 2015: Breaking into Politics (1980–1988), "Sherwood Idso, who published arguments that greenhouse gas emissions would not warm the Earth or bring any other harm to the climate. Better still, by fertilizing crops, the increase of CO2 would bring tremendous benefits."
  68. Hansen, James (1988). "Statement of Dr. James Hansen, director, NASA Goddard Institute for space studies" (PDF). Climate Change Retrieved 30 November 2015.
  69. Weart 2015 The Summer of 1988: "A new breed of interdisciplinary studies was showing that even a few degrees of warming might have harsh consequences, both for fragile natural ecosystems and for certain agricultural systems and other human endeavours …. The timing was right, and the media leaped on the story. Hansen's statements, especially that severe warming was likely within the next 50 years, got on the front pages of newspapers and were featured in television news and radio talk shows…. The story grew as the summer of 1988 wore on. Reporters descended unexpectedly upon an international conference of scientists held in Toronto at the end of June. Their stories prominently reported how the world's leading climate scientists declared that atmospheric changes were already causing harm, and might cause much more; the scientists called for vigorous government action to restrict greenhouse gases."
  70. Weart 2015: "Environmentalist organizations continued… lobbying and advertising efforts to argue for restrictions on emissions. The environmentalists were opposed and greatly outspent, by industries that produced or relied on fossil fuels. Industry groups not only mounted a sustained and professional public relations effort but also channeled considerable sums of money to individual scientists and small conservative organizations and publications that denied any need to act against global warming."
  71. Begley 2007: "Through advertisements, op-eds, lobbying and media attention, greenhouse doubters (they hate being called deniers) argued first that the world is not warming… Then they claimed that any warming is natural… Now they contend that the looming warming will be minuscule and harmless. 'They patterned what they did after the tobacco industry,' says former senator Tim Wirth… 'Both figured, sow enough doubt, call the science uncertain and in dispute. That's had a huge impact on both the public and Congress.'"
  72. Weart 2015: "The technical criticism most widely noted in the press came in several brief "reports"—not scientific papers in the usual sense—published between 1989 and 1992 by the conservative George C. Marshall Institute. The anonymously authored pamphlets … [claimed] that proposed government regulation would be "extraordinarily costly to the U.S. economy," they insisted it would be unwise to act on the basis of the existing global warming theories … In 1989 some of the biggest corporations in the petroleum, automotive, and other industries created a Global Climate Coalition, whose mission was to disparage every call for action against global warming."
  73. Conway & Oreskes 2010: "Millions of pages of documents released during tobacco litigation … show the crucial role that scientists played in sowing doubt about the links between smoking and health risks. These documents … also show that the same strategy was applied not only to global warming, but to a laundry list of environmental and health concerns, including asbestos, secondhand smoke, acid rain, and the ozone hole."
  74. Weart 2015: "Scientists noticed something that the public largely overlooked: the most outspoken scientific critiques of global warming predictions did not appear in the standard peer-reviewed scientific publications. The critiques tended to appear in venues funded by industrial groups, or in conservative media like the Wall Street Journal."
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  76. Weart 2011, p. 46: "Scientists continually test their beliefs, seeking out all possible contrary arguments and evidence, and finally publish their findings in peer-reviewed journals, where further attempts at refutation are encouraged. But the small group of scientists who opposed the consensus on warming proceeded in the manner of lawyers, considering nothing that would not bolster their case, and publishing mostly in pamphlets, books, and newspapers supported by conservative interests. At some point they were no longer skeptics—people who would try to see every side of a case—but deniers, that is, people whose only interest was in casting doubt upon what other scientists agreed was true."
  77. Weart 2011, pp. 47: "As the deniers found ever less scientific ground to stand on, they turned to political arguments. Some of these policy arguments were straightforward, raising serious questions about the efficacy and expense of proposed carbon taxes and emission-regulation schemes. But leading deniers also resorted toad hominem tactics… On each side, some people were coming to believe that they faced a dishonest conspiracy, driven by ideological bias and naked self-interest"
  78. Jacques, Dunlap & Freeman 2008, pp. 349–385: "Environmental skepticism encompasses several themes, but denial of the authenticity of environmental problems, particularly problems such as biodiversity loss or climate change that threaten ecological sustainability, is its defining feature"
  79. (Hamilton 2011, pp. 104–106): "the tactics, personnel, and organisations mobilised to serve the interests of the tobacco lobby in the 1980s were seamlessly transferred to serve the interests of the fossil-fuel lobby in the 1990s. Frederick Seitz … the task of the climate sceptics in the think tanks and PR companies hired by fossil fuel companies was to engage in 'consciousness lowering activities', to 'de-problematise' global warming by describing it as a form of politically driven panicmongering." For the tobacco company memo, see "Original "Doubt is our product…" memo". University of California, San Francisco. 21 August 1969. Retrieved 19 March 2010.
  80. Conway & Oreskes 2010, p. 105: "As recently as 2007, the George Marshall Institute continued to insist that the damages associated with acid rain were always "largely hypothetical," and that "further scientific investigation revealed that most of them were not in fact occurring." The Institute cited no studies to support this extraordinary claim."
  81. Weart 2015: "Public support for environmental concerns, in general, seems to have waned after 1988."
  82. Weart 2015: "A study of American media found that in 1987 most items that mentioned the greenhouse effect had been feature stories about the science, whereas in 1988 the majority of the stories addressed the politics of the controversy. It was not that the number of science stories declined, but rather that as media coverage doubled and redoubled, the additional stories moved into social and political areas … Before 1988, the journalists had drawn chiefly on scientists for their information, but afterward, they relied chiefly on sources who were identified with political positions or special interest groups."
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  90. Painter & Ashe 2012: "McCright and Dunlap played an important role in deepening the concept of climate skepticism. Examining what they termed a 'conservative countermovement' to undermine climate change policy…McCright and Dunlap went beyond the study of media representations of climate change knowledge to give a coherent picture of the movement behind climate skepticism in the US."
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  117. Rennie 2009: "Claim 3: Global warming stopped a decade ago; Earth has been cooling since then."
  118. Rennie 2009: "Claim 4: The sun or cosmic rays are much more likely to be the real causes of global warming. After all, Mars is warming up, too."
  119. Rennie 2009: "But in defiance of the naysayers who want to chalk the recent warming up to natural cycles, there is insufficient evidence that enough extra solar energy is reaching our planet to account for the observed rise in global temperatures."
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  121. Rennie 2009: "Claim 7: Technological fixes, such as inventing energy sources that don't produce CO2 or geoengineering the climate, would be more affordable, prudent ways to address climate change than reducing our carbon footprint."
  122. Rennie 2009: "Claim 5: Climatologists conspire to hide the truth about global warming by locking away their data. Their so-called "consensus" on global warming is scientifically irrelevant because science isn't settled by popularity.... Claim 6: Climatologists have a vested interest in raising the alarm because it brings them money and prestige."
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  206. Goldenberg, Suzanne (21 February 2015). "Work of prominent climate change denier was funded by energy industry". The Guardian. Retrieved 7 March 2015. Over the last 14 years Willie Soon, a researcher at the Harvard-Smithsonian Centre for Astrophysics, received a total of $1.25m from Exxon Mobil, Southern Company, the American Petroleum Institute (API) and a foundation run by the ultra-conservative Koch brothers… the biggest single funder was Southern Company, one of the country's biggest electricity providers that relies heavily on coal.
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  231. White, Rob (2012). Climate Change from a Criminological Perspective. Springer Science & Business Media. ISBN 978-1-4614-3640-9. belief that climate change is "real" and confidence in climate science has surprisingly decreased… Angus Reid polls conducted in December 2009 found declining support for climate change…in Britain, Canada, and the United States.
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  234. Antilla 2005: "the popular press uses a number of methods to frame climate science as uncertain, including 'through the practice of interjecting and emphasizing controversy or disagreement among scientists'… In order to provide balance while reporting on climate change, some journalists include rebuttals by experts who, often through think-tanks, are affiliated with the fossil fuel industry. Regrettably, this creates the impression that scientific opinion is evenly divided or completely unsettled"
  235. Begley 2007: "polls found that 64 percent of Americans thought there was 'a lot' of scientific disagreement on climate change; only one third thought planetary warming was "mainly caused by things people do." In contrast, majorities in Europe and Japan recognize a broad consensus among climate experts"
  236. Begley 2007: "A new NEWSWEEK Poll finds that the influence of the denial machine remains strong. Although the figure is less than in earlier polls, 39 percent of those asked say there is "a lot of disagreement among climate scientists" on the basic question of whether the planet is warming; 42 percent say there is a lot of disagreement that human activities are a major cause of global warming. Only 46 percent say the greenhouse effect is being felt today."
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