Papers on AGW denialism
Posted by Ari Jokimäki on May 11, 2010
This is a list of papers on the AGW denialism. The list is not complete, and will most likely be updated in the future in order to make it more thorough and more representative.
Update (November 10, 2016): McCright & Dunlap (2011), McCright & Dunlap (2011), Antonio & Brulle (2011), Lewandowsky et al. (2013), Dunlap & Jacques (2013), Brulle (2014), Jylhä & Akrami (2015), Medimorec & Pennycook (2015), Lewandowsky et al. (2015), Lewandowsky et al. (2015), Jylhä et al. (2016), Bonds (2016), Jacques & Knox (2016) added.
Hurricanes and hegemony: A qualitative analysis of micro-level climate change denial discourses – Jacques & Knox (2016)
Abstract: The climate change countermovement and its program of climate change denial have been well documented and studied. However, individual rationales for rejecting climate science remain under-studied. Twitter data related to Hurricane Sandy in 2012 are used to understand why individuals reject the orthodox climate consensus, using a summative content analysis of climate change denial discourses. Three major discourses are discovered: rejecting climate science because climate science is a conspiracy favoring growth of government; opposing renewable energy and energy taxation; and expressing fear of governmental abuse of power. Importantly, each discourse expressed certainty that climate science itself was a wholesale fraud; the denial discourses themselves focused far more on climate politics than on science.
Citation: Peter J. Jacques, Claire Connolly Knox (2016) Environmental Politics, Volume 25, Issue 5, http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/09644016.2016.1189233.
Beyond Denialism: Think Tank Approaches to Climate Change – Bonds (2016)
Abstract: Sociologists have done important research documenting the key role that think tanks play in the climate change denialism movement in the United States, which has sought to mislead the American public about the realities of global warming. Sociologists have not, however, assessed the full range of ways that think tanks are responding to – or planning for – global environmental change. This article proposes a typology of elite responses to global warming, which goes beyond denialism to include (i) limited climate mitigation, (ii) climate adaptation/privileged accommodation, and (iii) climate opportunism. Ultimately, this article provides insights on ways to build upon previous research in both environmental and political sociology to study the interface between elite-driven policy, climate change, and capitalism.
Citation: Bonds, E. (2016) Beyond Denialism: Think Tank Approaches to Climate Change. Sociology Compass, 10: 306–317. doi: 10.1111/soc4.12361.
Denial of anthropogenic climate change: Social dominance orientation helps explain the conservative male effect in Brazil and Sweden – Jylhä et al. (2016) [Full text]
Abstract: Political conservatives and males are more likely to deny human influence on climate change. In this paper we examine the role of social dominance orientation (SDO) in explaining this “conservative male” effect by testing whether SDO mediates the influence of both political conservatism and gender on anthropogenic climate change denial. We use cross-sectional online-based data from Brazil (N = 367) and Sweden (N = 221) to test our mediation hypothesis. Results from path analysis showed that SDO partially or fully mediated the influence of political orientation and gender on anthropogenic climate change denial. The results provide insights about the role of SDO in the “conservative male” effect, and suggest that SDO could be considered more comprehensively in studies focusing on climate change denial and environmental attitudes/behaviors.
Citation: Kirsti M. Jylhä, Clara Cantal, Nazar Akrami, Taciano L. Milfont, Personality and Individual Differences, Volume 98, August 2016, Pages 184–187, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.paid.2016.04.020.
Seepage: Climate change denial and its effect on the scientific community – Lewandowsky et al. (2015) [Full text]
Abstract: Vested interests and political agents have long opposed political or regulatory action in response to climate change by appealing to scientific uncertainty. Here we examine the effect of such contrarian talking points on the scientific community itself. We show that although scientists are trained in dealing with uncertainty, there are several psychological reasons why scientists may nevertheless be susceptible to uncertainty-based argumentation, even when scientists recognize those arguments as false and are actively rebutting them. Specifically, we show that prolonged stereotype threat, pluralistic ignorance, and a form of projection (the third-person effect) may cause scientists to take positions that they would be less likely to take in the absence of outspoken public opposition. We illustrate the consequences of seepage from public debate into the scientific process with a case study involving the interpretation of temperature trends from the last 15 years. We offer ways in which the scientific community can detect and avoid such inadvertent seepage.
Citation: Stephan Lewandowsky, Naomi Oreskes, James S. Risbey, Ben R. Newell, Michael Smithson, Global Environmental Change, Volume 33, July 2015, Pages 1–13, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.gloenvcha.2015.02.013.
Recurrent Fury: Conspiratorial Discourse in the Blogosphere Triggered by Research on the Role of Conspiracist Ideation in Climate Denial – Lewandowsky et al. (2015) [Full text]
Abstract: A growing body of evidence has implicated conspiracist ideation in the rejection of scientific propositions. Internet blogs in particular have become the staging ground for conspiracy theories that challenge the link between HIV and AIDS, the benefits of vaccinations, or the reality of climate change. A recent study involving visitors to climate blogs found that conspiracist ideation was associated with the rejection of climate science and other scientific propositions such as the link between lung cancer and smoking, and between HIV and AIDS. That article stimulated considerable discursive activity in the climate blogosphere—i.e., the numerous blogs dedicated to climate “skepticism”—that was critical of the study. The blogosphere discourse was ideally suited for analysis because its focus was clearly circumscribed, it had a well-defined onset, and it largely discontinued after several months. We identify and classify the hypotheses that questioned the validity of the paper’s conclusions using well-established criteria for conspiracist ideation. In two behavioral studies involving naive participants we show that those criteria and classifications were reconstructed in a blind test. Our findings extend a growing body of literature that has examined the important, but not always constructive, role of the blogosphere in public and scientific discourse.
Citation: Stephan Lewandowsky, John Cook, Klaus Oberauer, Scott Brophy, Elisabeth A. Lloyd, Michael Marriott (2015), Journal of Social and Political Psychology, 3, 1.
The language of denial: text analysis reveals differences in language use between climate change proponents and skeptics – Medimorec & Pennycook (2015) [Full text]
Abstract: We used text analyzers to compare the language used in two recently published reports on the physical science of climate change: one authored by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and the other by the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC; a group of prominent skeptics, typically with prior scientific training, organized by the Heartland Institute). Although both reports represent summaries of empirical research within the same scientific discipline, our language analyses revealed consistent and substantial differences between them. Most notably, the IPCC authors used more cautious (as opposed to certain) language than the NIPCC authors. This finding (among others) indicates that, contrary to that which is commonly claimed by skeptics, IPCC authors were actually more conservative in terms of language style than their NIPCC counterparts. The political controversy over climate change may cause proponents’ language to be conservative (for fear of being attacked) and opponents’ language to be aggressive (to more effectively attack). This has clear implications for the science communication of climate research.
Citation: Medimorec, S. & Pennycook, G. Climatic Change (2015) 133: 597. doi:10.1007/s10584-015-1475-2.
Social dominance orientation and climate change denial: The role of dominance and system justification – Jylhä & Akrami (2015) [Full text]
Abstract: Extending previous research, we examined whether the relation between social dominance orientation (SDO) and climate change denial reflects group-based dominance (SDO and nature dominance) or general system justification. Moreover, we examined whether the relation between personality (domineering and empathy) and denial is mediated by group-based dominance variables. The results showed that the group-based dominance variables reduce the effect of system justification on denial to nonsignificant. Also, social dominance and nature dominance explain unique parts of the variance in denial. Moreover, path analyses showed that the relations between empathy and system justification with denial are mediated by both of the group-based dominance variables, while the relation between domineering and denial is mediated only by SDO. Together, these results suggest that denial is driven partly by dominant personality and low empathy, and partly by motivation to justify and promote existing social and human-nature hierarchies. We conclude by suggesting that climate change mitigation efforts could be more successful if framed as being clearly beneficial for everybody and nonthreatening to existing social order.
Citation: Kirsti M. Jylhä, Nazar Akrami, Personality and Individual Differences, Volume 86, November 2015, Pages 108–111, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.paid.2015.05.041.
Institutionalizing delay: foundation funding and the creation of U.S. climate change counter-movement organizations – Brulle (2014) [Full text]
Abstract: This paper conducts an analysis of the financial resource mobilization of the organizations that make up the climate change counter-movement (CCCM) in the United States. Utilizing IRS data, total annual income is compiled for a sample of CCCM organizations (including advocacy organizations, think tanks, and trade associations). These data are coupled with IRS data on philanthropic foundation funding of these CCCM organizations contained in the Foundation Center’s data base. This results in a data sample that contains financial information for the time period 2003 to 2010 on the annual income of 91 CCCM organizations funded by 140 different foundations. An examination of these data shows that these 91 CCCM organizations have an annual income of just over $900 million, with an annual average of $64 million in identifiable foundation support. The overwhelming majority of the philanthropic support comes from conservative foundations. Additionally, there is evidence of a trend toward concealing the sources of CCCM funding through the use of donor directed philanthropies.
Citation: Brulle, R.J. Climatic Change (2014) 122: 681. doi:10.1007/s10584-013-1018-7.
NASA Faked the Moon Landing—Therefore, (Climate) Science Is a Hoax: An Anatomy of the Motivated Rejection of Science – Lewandowsky et al. (2013) [Full text]
Abstract: Although nearly all domain experts agree that carbon dioxide emissions are altering the world’s climate, segments of the public remain unconvinced by the scientific evidence. Internet blogs have become a platform for denial of climate change, and bloggers have taken a prominent role in questioning climate science. We report a survey of climate-blog visitors to identify the variables underlying acceptance and rejection of climate science. Our findings parallel those of previous work and show that endorsement of free-market economics predicted rejection of climate science. Endorsement of free markets also predicted the rejection of other established scientific findings, such as the facts that HIV causes AIDS and that smoking causes lung cancer. We additionally show that, above and beyond endorsement of free markets, endorsement of a cluster of conspiracy theories (e.g., that the Federal Bureau of Investigation killed Martin Luther King, Jr.) predicted rejection of climate science as well as other scientific findings. Our results provide empirical support for previous suggestions that conspiratorial thinking contributes to the rejection of science. Acceptance of science, by contrast, was strongly associated with the perception of a consensus among scientists.
Citation: Stephan Lewandowsky, Klaus Oberauer, Gilles E. Gignac (2013), Psychological Science, 24, 5, 622-633, doi:10.1177/0956797612457686.
Climate Change Denial Books and Conservative Think Tanks : Exploring the Connection – Dunlap & Jacques (2013)
Abstract: The conservative movement and especially its think tanks play a critical role in denying the reality and significance of anthropogenic global warming (AGW), especially by manufacturing uncertainty over climate science. Books denying AGW are a crucial means of attacking climate science and scientists, and we examine the links between conservative think tanks (CTTs) and 108 climate change denial books published through 2010. We find a strong link, albeit noticeably weaker for the growing number of self-published denial books. We also examine the national origins of the books and the academic backgrounds of their authors or editors, finding that with the help of American CTTs climate change denial has spread to several other nations and that an increasing portion of denial books are produced by individuals with no scientific training. It appears that at least 90% of denial books do not undergo peer review, allowing authors or editors to recycle scientifically unfounded claims that are then amplified by the conservative movement, media, and political elites.
Citation: Riley E. Dunlap, Peter J. Jacques, American Behavioral Scientist 0002764213477096, first published on February 22, 2013 doi:10.1177/0002764213477096.
Cool dudes: The denial of climate change among conservative white males in the United States – McCright & Dunlap (2011) [Full text]
Abstract: HIV does not cause AIDS. The world was created in 4004 BCE. Smoking does not cause cancer. And if climate change is happening, it is nothing to do with man-made CO2 emissions. Few, if any, of the readers of this journal will believe any of these statements. Yet each can be found easily in the mass media. … Denialism is a process that employs some or all of five characteristic elements in a concerted way. The first is the identification of conspiracies. … The second is the use of fake experts. … The third characteristic is selectivity, drawing on isolated papers that challenge the dominant consensus or highlighting the flaws in the weakest papers among those that support it as a means of discrediting the entire field. … The fourth is the creation of impossible expectations of what research can deliver. … The fifth is the use of misrepresentation and logical fallacies.
Citation: Aaron M. McCright, Riley E. Dunlap (2011), Global Environmental Change, Volume 21, Issue 4, October 2011, Pages 1163–1172, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.gloenvcha.2011.06.003.
The politicization of climate change and polarization in the American public’s views of global warming, 2001–2010 – McCright & Dunlap (2011) [Full text]
Abstract: We examine political polarization over climate change within the American public by analyzing data from 10 nationally representative Gallup Polls between 2001 and 2010. We find that liberals and Democrats are more likely to report beliefs consistent with the scientific consensus and express personal concern about global warming than are conservatives and Republicans. Further, the effects of educational attainment and self-reported understanding on global warming beliefs and concern are positive for liberals and Democrats, but are weaker or negative for conservatives and Republicans. Last, significant ideological and partisan polarization has occurred on the issue of climate change over the past decade.
Citation: McCright, A. M. and Dunlap, R. E. (2011), THE POLITICIZATION OF CLIMATE CHANGE AND POLARIZATION IN THE AMERICAN PUBLIC’S VIEWS OF GLOBAL WARMING, 2001–2010. Sociological Quarterly, 52: 155–194. doi:10.1111/j.1533-8525.2011.01198.x.
The unbearable lightness of politics: climate change denial and political polarization – Antonio & Brulle (2011) [Full text]
Abstract: No abstract, first page preview available.
Citation: Antonio, R. J. and Brulle, R. J. (2011), THE UNBEARABLE LIGHTNESS OF POLITICS: Climate Change Denial and Political Polarization. Sociological Quarterly, 52: 195–202. doi:10.1111/j.1533-8525.2011.01199.x.
Denialism: what is it and how should scientists respond? – Diethelm & McKee (2009) [Full text]
Abstract: No abstract. Some selected quotes: “HIV does not cause AIDS. The world was created in 4004 BCE. Smoking does not cause cancer. And if climate change is happening, it is nothing to do with man-made CO2 emissions. Few, if any, of the readers of this journal will believe any of these statements. Yet each can be found easily in the mass media. … Denialism is a process that employs some or all of five characteristic elements in a concerted way. The first is the identification of conspiracies. … The second is the use of fake experts. … The third characteristic is selectivity, drawing on isolated papers that challenge the dominant consensus or highlighting the flaws in the weakest papers among those that support it as a means of discrediting the entire field. … The fourth is the creation of impossible expectations of what research can deliver. … The fifth is the use of misrepresentation and logical fallacies.”
Citation: Pascal Diethelm, Martin McKee (2009) The European Journal of Public Health, 19, 1, 2-4, http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/eurpub/ckn139.
From Chicken Little to Dr. Pangloss: William Nierenberg, Global Warming, and the Social Deconstruction of Scientific Knowledge – Oreskes et al. (2008) [Full text]
Abstract: In recent decades, historians and sociologists of science have been largely concerned with the social construction of scientific knowledge. This paper examines an important historical episode in the social deconstruction of scientific knowledge. In the early 1980s, a consensus emerged among climate scientists that increased atmospheric carbon dioxide from burning fossil fuels would lead to mean global warming of 2––3°°C, probably by the mid-twenty-first century, and would have serious deleterious effects, including sea level rise of at least seventy centimeters. This consensus was challenged, however, by a committee of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, chaired by physicist William A. (Bill) Nierenberg, whose 1983 report arguably launched the climate change “debate.” Drawing on perspectives provided by two economists on his committee, Nierenberg reframed the question not as a matter of climate change per se, but as a matter of the human capacity to adapt to change when it came, a capacity, his report asserted, that was very great. Thus, while accepting the scientific conclusion that warming would occur, Nierenberg rejected the interpretation that it would be a problem. In later years, he would play a major role in political challenges to the scientific conclusions themselves. Reframing was Nierenberg’s first step on the road to the deconstruction of scientific knowledge of climate change.
Citation: Naomi Oreskes, Erik M. Conway, Matthew Shindell, HIST STUD NAT SCI, Vol. 38 No. 1, pp. 109-152, DOI: 10.1525/hsns.2008.38.1.109.
The organisation of denial: Conservative think tanks and environmental scepticism – Jacques et al. (2008) [Full text]
Abstract: Environmental scepticism denies the seriousness of environmental problems, and self-professed ‘sceptics’ claim to be unbiased analysts combating ‘junk science’. This study quantitatively analyses 141 English-language environmentally sceptical books published between 1972 and 2005. We find that over 92 per cent of these books, most published in the US since 1992, are linked to conservative think tanks (CTTs). Further, we analyse CTTs involved with environmental issues and find that 90 per cent of them espouse environmental scepticism. We conclude that scepticism is a tactic of an elite-driven counter-movement designed to combat environmentalism, and that the successful use of this tactic has contributed to the weakening of US commitment to environmental protection.
Citation: Peter J. Jacques, Riley E. Dunlap, Mark Freeman (2008) Environmental Politics, Volume 17, Issue 3, http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/09644010802055576.
Scientific Certainty Argumentation Methods (SCAMs): Science and the Politics of Doubt – Freudenburg et al. (2008) [Full text]
Abstract: At least since the time of Popper, scientists have understood that science provides falsification, but not “proof.” In the world of environmental and technological controversies, however, many observers continue to call precisely for “proof,” often under the guise of “scientific certainty.” Closer examination of real-world disputes suggests that such calls may reflect not just a fundamental misunderstanding of the nature of science, but a clever and surprisingly effective political-economic tactic—“Scientific Certainty” Argumentation Methods, or SCAMs. Given that most scientific findings are inherently probabilistic and ambiguous, if agencies can be prevented from imposing any regulations until they are unambiguously “justified,” most regulations can be defeated or postponed, often for decades, allowing profitable but potentially risky activities to continue unabated. An exploratory examination of previously documented controversies suggests that SCAMs are more widespread than has been recognized in the past, and that they deserve greater attention in the future.
Citation: Freudenburg, W. R., Gramling, R. and Davidson, D. J. (2008), Scientific Certainty Argumentation Methods (SCAMs): Science and the Politics of Doubt. Sociological Inquiry, 78: 2–38. doi:10.1111/j.1475-682X.2008.00219.x.
The Rearguard of Modernity: Environmental Skepticism as a Struggle of Citizenship – Jacques (2006) [Full text]
Abstract: Environmental skepticism denies the reality and importance of mainstream global environmental problems. However, its most important challenges are in its civic claims which receive much less attention. These civic claims defend the basis of ethical authority of the dominant social paradigm. The article explains how political values determine what skeptics count as a problem. One such value described is “deep anthropocentrism,” or the attempt to split human society from non-human nature and reject ecology as a legitimate field of ethical concern. This bias frames what skeptics consider legitimate knowledge. The paper then argues that the contemporary conservative countermovement has marshaled environmental skepticism to function as a rearguard for a maladaptive set of core values that resist public efforts to address global environmental sustainability. As such, the paper normatively argues that environmental skepticism is a significant threat to efforts to achieve sustainability faced by human societies in a globalizing world.
Citation: Peter Jacques, Global Environmental Politics, Vol. 6, No. 1, Pages 76-101, doi:10.1162/glep.2006.6.1.76.
Technocracy, Democracy, and U.S. Climate Politics: The Need for Demarcations – Lahsen (2005) [Full text]
Abstract: Ulrich Beck and other theorists of reflexive modernization are allies in the general project to reduce technocracy and elitism by rendering decision making more democratic and robust. However, this study of U.S. climate politics reveals complexities and obstacles to the sort of democratized decision making envisioned by such theorists. Since the early 1990s, the U.S. public has been subjected to numerous media-driven campaigns to shape understandings of this widely perceived threat. Political interests have instigated an important part of these campaigns, frequently resorting to ethically problematic tactics to undermineattemptsat policy action designed to avert or reduce the threat. The disproportionate in fluence of such interests suggests the need for a more level political playing field characterized by more equalized access to power and influence.
Citation: Myanna Lahsen, Science, Technology & Human Values Winter 2005 30: 137-169, doi:10.1177/0162243904270710.
Defeating Kyoto: The Conservative Movement’s Impact on U.S. Climate Change Policy – McCright & Dunlap (2003) [Full text]
Abstract: In this article, we argue that a major reason the United States failed to ratify the Kyoto Protocol to ameliorate global warming is the opposition of the American conservative movement, a key segment of the anti-environmental counter-movement. We examine how the conservative movement mobilized between 1990 and 1997 to construct the “non-problematicity” of global warming. After we describe how conservative think tanks mobilized to challenge the global warming claims of mainstream climate science, we examine how these countermovement organizations aligned themselves with prominent American climate change skeptics known for their staunch criticism of mainstream climate research and their affiliations with the fossil fuels industry. We then examine how the efforts of these conservative think tanks were enhanced by the shift in the political opportunity structure created by the 1994 Republican takeover of Congress. This study demonstrates how a powerful countermovement effectively challenged the environmental community’s definition of global warming as a social problem and blocked the passage of any significant climate change policy.
Citation: Aaron M. McCright, Riley E. Dunlap, Social Problems, 50, 3, 348-373, http://dx.doi.org/10.1525/sp.2003.50.3.348.
Challenging Global Warming as a Social Problem: An Analysis of the Conservative Movement’s Counter-Claims – McCright & Dunlap (2000) [Full text]
Abstract: Utilizing recent work on framing processes in the social movements literature and claims-making from the social problems literature, this paper analyzes the counter-claims promoted by the conservative movement between 1990 and 1997 as it mobilized to challenge the legitimacy of global warming as a social problem. A thematic content analysis of publications circulated on the web sites of prominent conservative think tanks reveals three major counter-claims. First, the movement criticized the evidentiary basis of global warming as weak, if not entirely wrong. Second, the movement argued that global warming will have substantial benefits if it occurs. Third, the movement warned that proposed action to ameliorate global warming would do more harm than good. In short, the conservative movement asserted that, while the science of global warming appears to be growing more and more uncertain, the harmful effects of global warming policy are becoming increasingly certain. In order to better understand the controversy over global warming, future research should pay attention to the influence of the conservative movement by identifying the crucial roles of conservative foundations, conservative think tanks, and sympathetic “skeptic” scientists in undermining the growing scientific consensus over the reality of global warming.
Citation: Aaron M. Mccright, Riley E. Dunlap, Social Problems, 47, 4, 499-522, http://dx.doi.org/10.2307/3097132.