Who Are the Climate Deniers?

I came across an interesting article yesterday in the Telegraph titled, “Climate change deniers ‘are either extreme free marketeers or conspiracy theorists.” Well, I read that headline with a fair degree of skepticism because it was exactly what I wanted to hear: that climate change deniers, like conspiracy theorists, aren’t quite in touch with reality.

The article was about a scientific paper titled, “NASA faked the moon landing — Therefore (Climate) Science is a Hoax: An Anatomy of the Motivated Rejection of Science,” which is due to be published in a psychology journal. Apparently Australian scientists conducted a study of 1000 climate blog visitors and their free market and conspiracy theory views to see what might predict climate skepticism. I haven’t had a chance to read through the full study, but a brief survey of their methodology (and the fact that their work is peer-reviewed) suggests that this is something to be taken seriously.

However — surveys, especially internet surveys, can produce skewed results. The scientists approached thirteen blogs in total, only eight of which posted the link. All five “skeptic” blogs declined. Would the respondents have been less inclined to agree with conspiracy theories had more of them been visitors to skeptic blogs? As much as I want to believe that climate change deniers refuse facts in other areas of their lives, I find it hard to believe that it’s as extreme as this article suggests, even though the results of the study suggest that belief in free markets is more important that “conspiratorial thinking” in predicting who will deny the validity of climate science. But it does make sense:

As lead researcher Professor Stephan Lewandowsky put it,

[Conspiracy theorists]…start out with a theory and stick to it no matter what the evidence. So it is not that surprising that conspiracy theorists would not accept scientific propositions … If the scientific evidence is overwhelming and you don’t like the conclusion, you have to find a way to reject those findings.

In other climate news, arctic ice melt is occurring more quickly than some of the most extreme models predicted.

Protestors in Texas are blockading Keystone XL construction. The Tar Sands Blockade protesters explain their decision here.

The consequences of global warming include cows being fed candy, and some are calling the difference between scientific and social consensus on climate issues a “culture war.