AGW Observer

Observations of anthropogenic global warming

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.

Denialism: what is it and how should scientists respond? – Diethelm & McKee (2009) “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.” [Full text]

How Climate Science Became a Victim of the Cold War – Oreskes & Conway (2008) The history of AGW denialism. “On first glance, it seems just plain weird that several of the same individuals—all retired physicists—were involved in denying that cancer causes smoking, that pollution causes acid rain, that CFCs destroy ozone, and that greenhouse gas emissions are causing global warming. But when you put these things together—tobacco regulation, the banning of CFCs, the delay of controls on CO2 emissions—then they do add up, summing to a radical free market ideology that opposes any action restricting the pursuit of market capitalism, no matter the justification.” [Full text]

From Chicken Little to Dr. Pangloss: William Nierenberg, Global Warming, and the Social Deconstruction of Scientific Knowledge – Oreskes et al. (2008) “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.”

The organisation of denial: Conservative think tanks and environmental scepticism – Jacques et al. (2008) “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.” [Full text]

Scientific Certainty Argumentation Methods (SCAMs): Science and the Politics of Doubt – Freudenburg et al. (2008) “As noted by Trumbo (1996; see also Gelbspan 1997; Shanahan and Trumbo 1998), a strikingly high fraction of all media reports about “scientific” disputes over global warming, particularly during the 1990s, actually quoted only a small handful of skeptics—many of whom had been funded by affected industries and/or by politically conservative “Think Tanks” that proved to be especially adroit at publicizing the results of their studies (see McCright and Dunlap 2000, 2003; see also Fiore 1997; Krehely, House, and Kernan 2004). A number of the best-known skeptics were not even climate scientists. Even so, the ability to demand Scientific “Certainty” provided so much leverage that the critics received a disproportionate share of mass media attention, especially while the United States was debating the ratification of the Kyoto Accords for slowing global warming (see Fisher 2004).” [Full text]

The Rearguard of Modernity: Environmental Skepticism as a Struggle of Citizenship – Jacques (2006) “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.” [Full text]

Technocracy, Democracy, and U.S. Climate Politics: The Need for Demarcations – Lahsen (2005) “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 undermine attempts at 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.” [Full text]

Defeating Kyoto: The Conservative Movement’s Impact on U.S. Climate Change Policy – McCright & Dunlap (2003) “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.” [Full text]

Challenging Global Warming as a Social Problem: An Analysis of the Conservative Movement’s Counter-Claims – McCright & Dunlap (2000) “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.” [Full text]

3 Responses to “Papers on AGW denialism”

  1. Watching the Deniers said

    Fantastic collection of papers, I’ll be reading each one in depth. I’ll fire any that I come across to you.


  2. […] most recent post includes provides an excellent list of papers on the phenomena of climate change denialism. Research by historian, sociologists and anthropologists studying the reasons for […]

  3. […] lead themselves well to collaborative efforts.   I’d also note AGW Observer has a great list of papers on “denial”, which is a great foundation.   There are many issues that would need to […]

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