Understanding Climate Change Denial

Fr. Lazar Arasu SDB

February 4, 2021

The conversation surrounding climate change first began in the 50’s. Scientists have been warning about the warming temperatures since the 70’s. The 80’s saw important breakthroughs with regard to global environmental challenges. The intergovernmental panel on climate change was set up in 1988. Since then the climate change research has expanded and in 2020, there is proof beyond doubt that climate change is a real, looming problem. And yet, in the face of overwhelming scientific evidence, climate change denial is present and burgeoning.

Climate change denial is an ever present problem. 2020 has been one of the worst years of the planet from an environmental perspective. The seas are rising all around us, and we are close to reaching the point of no return. And yet, instead of charging forward with aggressive environmental action, we are still trying to convince people of the need for climate action.

Climate change denial is in danger of becoming the big lie. A big lie is a “gross distortion or misrepresentation of the facts, especially when used as a propaganda device by a politician or official body”. The facts around climate change have started to become distorted to this extent. While the most egregious of deniers will claim that it is not real, there is a wave of groups who claim that climate change is not a problem as it will lead to the temperate regions becoming more farmable, while there is a swath of people that agree that while climate change is real, there is no economic value in fixing it.

Big oil companies have been feeding into this disinformation, frequently funding studies that mislead the general public regarding the impact of climate change, in an effort to continue profiting from the fossil fuel industry. These actions have been well documented, and are partly the reason why we are now at this precipice, where climate change is a problem that needs immediate attention, and yet we are still trying to determine the legitimacy of the problem.

The breakdown from climate change will be sudden, atypical and climactic. We need to combat this wave of misinformation, and fight climate change aggressively, because we are running out of time.