The many tactics of climate change deniers
The many tactics of climate change deniers The Daily Star
Can we steer climate change out of overdrive?
After my article “Can we steer climate change out of overdrive?” was published in The Daily Star on July 10, a “retired academic” sent me a condescending email with the following comments. “As a Professor of Physics you should know that humans have a very tiny footprint in the timescale of Nature. Humans cannot change Nature and Earth will dry up like others and possibly will become habitable again in billions of years.” He advised me to “know the science better before you write something. I want you to look at the bigger picture and take a more realistic understanding instead [of] jumping on the political bandwagon.”
My reply was: “Yes, millions and billions of years from now, we expect our planet to recover from the havoc created today by anthropogenic climate change. But should we be concerned about recovery billions of years from now, or should we be concerned about whether our future generations will have a liveable planet before the end of this century? Any right thinking person will be concerned with the latter.” There was no rebuttal from him.
Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)
- No Poverty
- Zero Hunger
- Good Health and Well-being
- Quality Education
- Gender Equality
- Clean Water and Sanitation
- Affordable and Clean Energy
- Decent Work and Economic Growth
- Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure
- Reduced Inequalities
- Sustainable Cities and Communities
- Responsible Consumption and Production
- Climate Action
- Life Below Water
- Life on Land
- Peace, Justice, and Strong Institutions
- Partnerships for the Goals
The Denial of Human-Induced Climate Change
But the retired academic is not alone in denying human-induced climate change. During the first Republican presidential primary debate on Fox News, which frequently promotes climate disinformation to its large cable audience, the moderators asked a question on behalf of young conservatives. “How will you as both president of the United States and leader of the Republican Party calm their fears that the Republican Party doesn’t care about climate change?” Former President Donald Trump may not have been at the debate, but his parrot Vivek Ramaswamy, the entrepreneur turned politician, brashly called climate change a hoax. His answer triggered boos and jeers from an otherwise handpicked friendly audience. He nevertheless followed up by saying that the “anti-carbon agenda is the wet blanket on our economy,” and farcically argued that “the reality is more people are dying of bad climate change policies than they are of actual climate change.” If elected, he will unlock American energy, drilling, fracking, and burning coal. Unsurprisingly, his remarks align with the rhetoric of many Republican lawmakers.
Governor Ron DeSantis of Florida sidestepped the climate change question altogether. He rejects the “politicisation of the weather” and dismisses the view of scientists that the once-in-a-lifetime hurricane Idalia, which recently battered his state, was amplified by climate change. Other Republicans, including former vice president Mike Pence, avoided the question too. Only Nikki Haley, former ambassador to the UN, and former New Jersey governor Chris Christie acknowledged that climate change is real. However, Haley clarified her position by saying, “If you want to go and really change the environment then we need to start telling China and India that they have to lower their emissions, that’s what our problem is.” Clearly, Republicans are interested in advancing their political ambitions at the expense of public interest.
Climate Change Denial Tactics
- Comparing climate activists to Nazis
- Claiming wind and solar power pollute the Earth
- Questioning the accuracy of temperature data
- Alleging that scientists manipulate data to push their agenda
- Denying the impact of greenhouse gas emissions on hurricanes
- Describing sustainable urban planning as a communist-style lockdown
- Spreading misinformation about climate solutions
The Influence of Fossil Fuel Industry
Where is the money behind these false propaganda coming from? Although outright climate deniers are a minority, their tactics and tenor are supported by the fossil fuel industry, which spends billions of dollars to wage a coordinated campaign to influence public opinion against climate science and climate action. Some donors of the deniers are Donors Capital Fund, the Exxon-Mobil Foundation, Vanguard Charitable Endowment Program, American Petroleum Institute and Koch Affiliated Foundations.
Countering Climate Change Denial
So what can be done to counter the cock and bull stories of this breed of climate change deniers? In order to counteract their irrational arguments, social and traditional media could do more to broadcast the views of experts, who are generally trusted by the public. Also effective will be preemptively refuting their falsification of proven scientific facts. These will help the public develop analytical skills to detect misinformation on their own.
Dr Quamrul Haider is professor emeritus at Fordham University in New York, US.
Views expressed in this article are the author’s own.
SDGs, Targets, and Indicators Analysis
1. Which SDGs are addressed or connected to the issues highlighted in the article?
- SDG 13: Climate Action
- SDG 4: Quality Education
- SDG 16: Peace, Justice, and Strong Institutions
The article primarily focuses on climate change denial and the spread of misinformation related to climate change. This connects to SDG 13, which aims to take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts. Additionally, the article mentions the influence of interest groups and the need for media to broadcast the views of experts, which relates to SDG 16’s target of promoting peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development. The mention of climate denial videos being approved for use in public schools also touches on the importance of quality education (SDG 4) in promoting accurate information and critical thinking.
2. What specific targets under those SDGs can be identified based on the article’s content?
- SDG 13.2: Integrate climate change measures into national policies, strategies, and planning.
- SDG 13.3: Improve education, awareness-raising, and human and institutional capacity on climate change mitigation, adaptation, impact reduction, and early warning.
- SDG 16.10: Ensure public access to information and protect fundamental freedoms, in accordance with national legislation and international agreements.
The article highlights the need to integrate climate change measures into national policies and strategies (SDG 13.2) to address climate change denial and promote climate action. It also emphasizes the importance of improving education and awareness-raising on climate change (SDG 13.3) to counter misinformation and promote accurate understanding. Additionally, the article mentions the need to protect fundamental freedoms and ensure public access to information (SDG 16.10) to combat the spread of climate change denial and misinformation.
3. Are there any indicators mentioned or implied in the article that can be used to measure progress towards the identified targets?
- Indicator for SDG 13.2: Number of countries with climate change policies, strategies, and plans.
- Indicator for SDG 13.3: Number of people reached through climate change education and awareness programs.
- Indicator for SDG 16.10: Proportion of population with access to the internet.
The article does not explicitly mention specific indicators, but the identified targets can be measured using indicators such as the number of countries with climate change policies, strategies, and plans (SDG 13.2), the number of people reached through climate change education and awareness programs (SDG 13.3), and the proportion of the population with access to the internet (SDG 16.10). These indicators can help assess progress in integrating climate change measures, improving education and awareness, and ensuring public access to information.
SDGs, Targets, and Indicators Table
|SDG 13: Climate Action||13.2: Integrate climate change measures into national policies, strategies, and planning.||Number of countries with climate change policies, strategies, and plans.|
|SDG 13: Climate Action||13.3: Improve education, awareness-raising, and human and institutional capacity on climate change mitigation, adaptation, impact reduction, and early warning.||Number of people reached through climate change education and awareness programs.|
|SDG 16: Peace, Justice, and Strong Institutions||16.10: Ensure public access to information and protect fundamental freedoms, in accordance with national legislation and international agreements.||Proportion of population with access to the internet.|
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