Climate Change

Guide to climate change, including research resources and discipline-specific tools

Climate change denial and skepticism

                            Those who question the scientific consensus that climate change is happening as a result of human actions include a range of voices and perspectives:

  • Respected scientists (often estimated at approximately 3%) who have expressed skepticism that current data is sufficient for making conclusive decisions.  
  • Some fossil fuel industry representatives, and researchers whose studies are designed and funded by these groups
  • Some conservative, small government advocates who are opposed in principle to the large scale governmental actions that climate activists call for to respond to the threat.  
  • Individuals who receive their information from misleading/uninformed news and social media sources 
  • Individuals who respond to frightening or unpleasant news with defense strategies such as denial
  • Conspiracy theorists who maintain that "global warming hysteria" is a hoax designed to forward the goals of a "deep state" clandestine network.   

Survey data from Yale Program on Climate Communication indicates that as of Dec. 2020, 12% of the American public is "doubtful" about climate change and 8% is "dismissive."

To find web sites representing the more extreme views of climate change denial or skepticism, search for the terminology used by these groups:

  • global warming (or climate change) hysteria
  • global warming (or climate change) alarmist
  • global warming (or climate change) myth
  • global warming (or climate change) hoax
  • global warming (or climate change) junk science

See below: the politics of climate denial; the psychology of climate denial; academic studies on climate denial; and resources for debunking climate denial myths.

Photo source: https://www.newsweek.com/should-climate-change-deniers-be-prosecuted-378652

Politics of climate denial

Example of climate change denial:

"Climate ‘Emergency’? Not So Fast" published in the conservative magazine National Review, April 2021, by Dr. Richard Lindzen and Dr. William Happer. Both are respected scientists labeled as contrarian for the very high bar they set to accept that a scientific consensus has been reached.  For example, Dr. Lindzen also claims among other things that lung cancer is weakly linked to smoking, and Dr. Happer denied that the ozone hole causes risks.

Psychology of climate change denial

Academic studies of climate denial

This graphic provides a comprehensive taxonomy of climate contrarian claims. Source: Coan, Travis, et al. “Computer-assisted Detection and Classification of Misinformation About Climate Change.” SocArXiv, 9 Mar. 2021.

Debunking climate denial myths