Climate Change Scepticism

By: Soumi Ghosh

Climate Change Scepticism, also known as Climate Change Denial, is a right-wing political ideology that denies and dismisses the scientific claim of climate change caused due to human activities, and if left unchecked, these changes will adversely affect both human life and the ecosystem. Read more to find out what lies in wait for us if we continue to stand divided on the issue of Climate change.

Image Source: Historical Climatology

The Beginning

In the 1950s, scientists working at Humble Oil (now Exxon Mobil) for the first time claimed that there is a direct link between fossil fuel use and rising CO2 levels. Later in the 1960s, in a report produced for the American Petroleum Institutes, the scientists warned that a significant rise in CO2 levels could affect biodiversity, melt ice caps, increase sea levels, and so on. Following this in 1977, a paper titled “The Greenhouse Effect” was produced that warned about the global- rising temperature resulting from human-caused emissions and that the oil companies should bear the responsibility for managing climate change by reducing their use of fossil fuels.

Global Climate Coalition: A Play of Words

In a turn of events, Exxon, in 1983, had cut fundings for climate research, and further in 1989, Exxon and other fossil fuel companies created the ‘Global Climate Coalition’ (GCC) to oppose the mandatory reductions in carbon emissions.

By 1992 Exxon had become a member of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), which actively undermined action on climate change at the federal and state levels. Exxon CEO Lee Raymond, in his speech in 1996 claimed that the scientific evidence was inconclusive as to whether human activities were having a significant effect on the global climate and that the world climate isn’t changing. He further said that even if climate change theory is true, fossil fuels had no part to play in it. Hence, it was the beginning of the ideology of climate change denial.

Debunking Claims of Climate Change Deniers

Over the years, climate change denial has taken many forms. The deniers make baseless claims such as “CO2 is good for you” and that global warming is beneficial for us.  Another set of deniers do accept that the scientific consensus on human-made global warming is true. But on the other hand, they also opine that taking actions to mitigate climate change will impact the economy adversely. Climate change deniers also have no regard for the disproportionate effects of climate change on women, children, the poor, indigenous communities, etc., all over the world.

Image Source: Campaign Against Climate Change

The ideology of denying climate change is on the rise because major countries fail to acknowledge the scientific consensus and also due to their unwillingness to take appropriate action to mitigate climate change. For example, although the year 2019 was set to become the hottest year on record, the UN Climate Change Conference (COP25) held in Madrid, December 2019 failed because countries like the US, Brazil, Australia and, Saudi Arabia blocked significant actions to be taken to tackle climate change. Even a month before COP25, US President Trump had withdrawn from the Paris Climate Agreement. It is evident that influential world leaders ignore the phenomenon of climate change and, hence, the consequences have to be faced by the people.

Bearing the Costs of our Actions 

As many world leaders continue to disregard climate change, they tend to ignore the impacts that are happening now. Climate change affects each individual in some way or the other and, if prompt actions are not taken, the severity of the consequences will keep increasing. The visible impacts of global warming and climate change are – effects on the ecosystem, loss of biodiversity, extinction of species, impact on human health, depletion of natural resources, submerging of lands, occurrences of severe cyclonic weather patterns, mass displacement of people, refugee issues, and much more.

Altering Mindsets of Skeptics and Taking a United Stand on Climate Change

The sad truth is that the issue of climate has divided the political and ideological stance of our times, which has effectively hampered the actions taken to mitigate climate change. This fight over climate change shows how easily politics can influence scientific claims on such vital issues. Moreover, the recent study published by Grant McDermott an Environmental Economist of the University of Oregon, says that “if a climate change skeptic is unpersuaded by the evidence that is already available to them today, it implies that they will likely remain a skeptic for many years into future”. Therefore, it becomes equally important to look into ways that will untwine the root causes of climate change scepticism; and at the same time, every individual should respond to climate change as rapidly and effectively as possible to save the coming generations from the adversities of climate change.

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