Climate Change Denial

Why are We in Denial About the Ghastly Effects of Climate Change?

Climate change denial refers to the attitude of people who believe that global warming is a natural process and man can do little to control it. People who deny climate change also think that the issue of global warming is over-hyped and it poses little or no threat to mankind.
Although, the threat of global warming is real, backed by scientific evidence, most people are oblivious to this problem and their attitude towards this issue is marked by complete denial of facts. Climate change denial is a commonly held belief that global warming is hoax and the issue is being over-hyped. Anti-green activists also claim that the amount of money that is being pumped into funding research on climate change can be used for other, more important issues. Climate change denial hampers any attempts to raise awareness on this issue besides creating a doubt in minds of people whether global warming is fact or fiction.

Green lobbyists claim that activists who deny that climate change is a reality, are backed by big corporate houses, whose interests would be severely hampered if there is an increased awareness among people on the global warming, but the truth is that most of us, to an extent, are living in denial about the changes we have caused to the environment. The Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has pointed out that human activity is a major cause of global warming, but skeptics doubt the credibility of these reports. Some things that climate change skeptics have to say to justify their claim are -
  • There is no accurate evidence that humans have changed the environment as global warming is a natural process and thus it is inevitable.
  • Had global warming been a serious issue, instead of the environmentalists, the respective governments would have taken immediate steps against it.
  • No report till date has been able to say with adequate proof that global warming is a major threat and humans are responsible for it. The researchers who come out with these reports themselves are not sure and their reports are often characterized by words such as "likely", "probably" etc.
  • Even if we agree that global warming is a serious threat, we can't do anything about it as the natural emissions because of volcanic eruptions are much greater than those caused due to human activities. So, instead of asking countries to cut their emissions, researchers should work together to build a mechanism which helps in controlling the emission of harmful gases in the atmosphere during a natural catastrophe.
  • The reason that glaciers are melting due to human activities isn't too adequate a proof of global warming as glaciers have been melting and growing over the past few thousand years.
Psychologists are of the belief that the reason we show skepticism about these issues is because climate change is something that we as humans don't want to think about as it disturbs our sense of optimism and longevity. They are also of the view that even though most of us know that the patterns of climate on earth have changed drastically over the last few hundred years, we simply comfort ourselves with the fact that we won't be there to see its repercussions. This to a very large extent shapes public opinion on global warming. Psychologists are also of the view that if global warming would have been a more immediate issue, that is, if it had the potential to impact our lives in the next fifteen or twenty years, our response to it would have been totally different.

Researchers who study human pattern behavior point out that we tend to align ourselves more readily with denial groups as they convincingly say what we want to hear. If there is a threat looming over us, there are two ways in which we can react; accept the challenge and put in an effort to fight against it; or remain in denial that it is not lethal enough to cause any immediate damage, and we as a society have adopted the latter one. Fighting global warming would take a lot of compromises and we have grown so comfortable with the luxuries that science has offered us that giving-up on these might seem as a tedious affair.

The only way forward in the fight against global warming is a collective effort from all of us. We can't really retreat into myths and rely solely on environmentalists to fight this issue for us. They can tell us what dangers are lurking in the future, but it is the civil society who has to take corrective measures against this menace. Our actions in the next one or two decades will determine what kind of life our kids and grand-kids will have. As for those who want to live in climate denial, it is time to wake up from their slumber before it gets too late.