First, we have a famous, articulate and politically astute novelist taking up the issue of climate change. The book is also an explicit call for humanists — writers and authors and novelists and others — to become engaged and think through: How did we get into this situation? And how do we get out of it? And, as we know, American politicians are going about their lives still in many cases in denial about the basic framework of this problem.
There have been all kinds of incidents where we have seen what I call the human face of global warming. As you say, we could call this exhibit F and we have not connected the dots from A to B to C to D to E to F and also, I would say, to ExxonMobil and all of the fossil fuels companies that even today are continuing to explore for still more oil and gas reserves.
That is a kind of craziness. I say that for two reasons. This came out particularly in the past summer. There was a whole twitter feed arguing that this was bad strategy. Roy has done something very important by putting on the table just how bad this could be. He may have slightly exaggerated, but consider how many articles and books and newspaper reports understate the threat.
Again, I wrote a paper a few years ago in which we showed that scientists had in fact been actually underestimating the threat of climate change. People need to take that perspective on board and take it seriously. What light does this shed on the politics of climate change?
Get the weekly Five Books newsletter. All of the books I have chosen are about grappling with the meaning of climate change. And yet if we want people to take climate change seriously, they need to understand what it means. In The Collapse of Western Civilisation we were trying to get at the political meaning, not just in the sense of climate change denial but what massively disruptive climate change could mean in terms of its threat to liberal democracy. So, all these books in different ways are getting at meaning. This is about the origins of ideas that are so dominant in US political culture, notably the sense that freedom and capitalism are inextricably linked.
What particularly distinguishes this book for you? It overlaps with the work that Erik Conway and I did in Merchants of Doubt to identify the ideological underpinnings of climate change denial. One of the things that Erik and I argued in Merchants of Doubt was that many of the people who deny climate change believe — and I think in some cases authentically so — that they are defending freedom. What we showed in our work was that the climate change deniers that we studied were resistant to accepting the scientific evidence of climate change because they feared that it was going to be used as an excuse to expand government and limit personal freedom.
That motivated them to downplay, discount, and ultimately deny the scientific evidence of climate change. But they really did think that they were protecting freedom. And, this, on some level, is the story of 20th century neoliberalism—or at least its founders. This is an extreme loss of freedom. At the end of the movie version of Merchants of Doubt , we argument the following: think about American society or European society, think about any liberal democracy, what are the conditions under which we consider it acceptable for the government to force people to leave their homes, order martial law, and order the national guard to come in?
The answer is in one of two situations: warfare and natural disasters. We take it as routine now that in the case of a natural disaster the government has the right — even the obligation — to order evacuations to protect people for their own good. But now look where we are with Hurricane Harvey in Texas. Governments may forbid people from living in certain places that are simply too costly to protect.
Mann is a well-known climate scientist. Tom Toles, by contrast, is an editorial cartoonist. I chose this book for a couple of reasons. As you said, the politics of climate change is a difficult and dark subject and none of the books I have chosen so far is exactly an upbeat read. So, it is helpful in all this to find a way to keep a sense of humour. And, of course, satire can be one of the most effective means of communication.
Because the politics of denial is so closely linked with the world of post-truth, post-facts, and alternative facts. This is partly why those advertorials were so damaging. The seemed to be making factual claims, but actually they were promoting disinformation. The problem of disinformation and the blurring of boundaries between fact and fiction is a central in our society today. I think this is what Michael Mann is referring to when he talks about it driving him crazy. You work at these activities because you believe that if you get the factual information clear, explain it well, and make it available, then people will respond in a rational way.
And especially because people of our generation — Mike and I are of a pretty similar age — grew up in a time where governments did accept scientific information and did use it to do things and make policy. We now see a reversal where science is deeply disparaged. I was raised to think that you could disagree with somebody but still respect them, and you could have a reasoned conversation about the best approach to, say, ending the Vietnam War or the best approach to ending racial discrimination.
We all agreed that it was real and bad; the question was a strategy and tactic question about how best to address it. What does that do to democracy? People learnt to provide clean water and proper sewage systems. After long struggle, campaigners got lead out of petrol, and they dealt with the ozone hole.
Can you envisage a constructive politics of climate change? Is this largely down to technology? I see the US as an anomaly. I travel all around the world and see a green technology revolution taking place.
10 Books About Global Warming That Will Inspire You To Resist Climate Change Deniers
The right policies send clear signals to the marketplace that then encourage the private sector to commit and really work on these things. When you get the right policies in place, the private sector can step in and make a difference. The policy signals are in the wrong direction, with Donald Trump pulling out of the Paris Agreement and saying he wants to expand coal development and increase offshore drilling for oil and gas. I travel all around the world and see a green technology revolution taking place…. But elsewhere in the world, in many places, the signals are much better.
So, if all the rest of the world gets on board and addresses this issue, the world as a whole could largely solve this problem.
Switching off denial: a guide | New Internationalist
At one point I started planning a book project about solutions — what it would look like to fix this problem — and I imagined the story would take place in Korea because South Korea is a very innovative country. But my husband said to me, Naomi, if the solution takes place in Korea then Americans will not view that as a happy ending.
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- Climate Change Denial Books and Conservative Think Tanks.
- Climate Cover-Up: The Crusade to Deny Global Warming?
We also examine the national origins of the books and the academic backgrounds of their authors or editors, finding that with the help of American CTTs climate change denial has spread to several other nations and that an increasing portion of denial books are produced by individuals with no scientific training. Consequently, corporate America especially fossil fuels corporations worried about restrictions on their products and the U.
Both industry and the conservative movement learned during the Reagan administration that frontal attacks on environmental regulations could create a backlash among the public Dunlap, Historically these efforts focused on specific problems such as secondhand smoke, acid rain, and ozone depletion, but in the case of AGW they have ballooned into a full-scale assault on the multifaceted field of climate science, the IPCC, scientific organizations endorsing AGW, and even individual scientists Powell, ; Weart, Similarly, the Heartland Institute, a small regional think tank in the s, emerged as a leading force in climate change denial in the past decade Pooley, However, it must be noted that besides helping fund these think tanks, many corporations maintain ambivalent positions concerning the necessity of reducing carbon emissions Union of Concerned Scientists, Furthermore, major corporate associations such as the U.
Chamber of Commerce and the American Petroleum Institute continue to strongly oppose policies to reduce carbon emissions Pooley, Still, although corporations can bring their enormous resources to bear in lobbying against legislation, the conservative movement especially its think tanks often takes the lead in manufacturing uncertainty over climate science.
Indeed, CTTs offer the ideal vehicle for undermining the credibility of climate science and attacking climate scientists.
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CTTs have been credited with having a major impact on U. The purpose of this article is to examine in detail one key tool CTTs use to sow skepticism toward AGW throughout the larger society: sponsoring books espousing climate change denial, including those by the small number of contrarian scientists who challenge mainstream climate science. Books confer a sense of legitimacy on their authors and provide them an effective tool for combating the findings of climate scientists that are published primarily in scholarly, peer-reviewed journals—at least within the public and policy as opposed to scientific arenas.
They are interviewed on TV and radio, quoted by newspaper columnists, and cited by sympathetic politicians and corporate figures. Their books are frequently carried by major bookstore chains, where they are seen even if not purchased by a wide segment of the public, many receive enormous publicity on CTT websites and from conservative and skeptical bloggers, and some are carried by the Conservative Book Club. In short, books are a potent means for diffusing skepticism concerning AGW and the need to reduce carbon emissions. Given the critical role of CTTs in challenging climate science and policy making, and their proclivity for using books to promote their causes, we expect to find a strong link between CTTs and books espousing climate change denial.
In part this expectation is based on prior experience. In an earlier study of environmental skepticism writ large Jacques et al. These links to highly influential and generally well-heeled CTTs challenge a common theme of the books—namely, that the authors or editors are little Davids battling the Goliath of environmental science.
The present study extends our earlier work by examining books espousing climate change denial per se published through , including some examined in the prior study since they represent examples of environmental skepticism. Besides focusing on book connections to CTTs, we also examine the educational credentials and national backgrounds of their authors or editors. Given that climate change denial has become widespread within the United States and to some degree internationally, we pay particular attention to the role of CTTs in diffusing a skeptical view of climate change and climate science to a wider audience both within the United States and internationally.
Our data set consists of the population of English-language books assigned an International Standard Book Number ISBN that espouse various forms of climate change denial. These arguments have been labeled trend, attribution, and impact denial Rahmstorf, Books were included only if they take one or more of these positions challenging climate science, all of which are used to reject the necessity of carbon emission reductions.
We located books espousing one or more of these versions of climate change denial published through , employing searches via online book stores, bibliographies in denial books, references in articles written by climate change skeptics, and several skeptic blogs that promote denial literature.
Climate change denial books, especially those that were published by obscure presses or were self-published, can be difficult to locate, and we have possibly missed a few. However, we are confident that the we analyze represent virtually all denial books in English, allowing us to generalize our findings with confidence.
We limit our analysis to first-edition books, ignoring the small number of second-edition volumes that came out in only slightly revised form. In addition to examining book links with CTTs—as done in our prior study—and location of lead author, we coded date of publication, the type of publisher employed, and information on the academic credentials degrees and fields of study of authors or editors. Our overall goal is to provide a good sense of the sources of these volumes—who is writing them and who is publishing them—paying special attention to the role of CTTs in the process.
In the following sections we describe our coding decisions and thereby clarify information presented for each book in the appendix. We begin by charting the publication of these books over time, documenting the recent rapid increase in their numbers, and then highlight a significant new development—the growth of self-published books, often by laypersons denying AGW. We then examine the connections between CTTs and the books, noting how this connection differs for books issued by publishing houses and those that are self-published.
We next examine the national origins of the books, showing how production of climate change denial volumes has spread from the United States to several other nations as denial has diffused internationally, noting the role of CTTs in this process. Then we turn to the academic and scientific credentials of the authors or editors of the books, highlighting trends over time and variation across nations.
Climate change denial
We end by commenting on how the publishing sources used by the denial authors enables most of them to avoid peer review. Highlighting the benefits of carbon dioxide, Idso took issue with early climate science that suggested increasing levels of carbon dioxide could produce deleterious effects. The remaining books began appearing in , the year after AGW became a highly visible issue in the United States and the IPCC was established, with 4 coming out that year.
They were followed by 19 denial books published in the s, 13 of them in the last half of that decade, reflecting a relatively slow but steady growth in their rate of publication. Another 15 appeared during the first half of the next decade, followed by a veritable explosion of 54 in the second half especially to , making a total of 69 from to Another 15 came out in , yielding the total of we are examining. Many factors influence the writing and timing of books, and we can only speculate on the trend we have just described.
There is a slow growth in the number of books appearing before the December meeting on the Kyoto Protocol, 4 then a relatively stable period of modest production from one to five books a year for the following decade, followed by the very rapid increase in the number of denial books per year beginning in The rising salience of global warming in the eyes of the public and the growing pressure for ameliorative policy action stimulated those skeptical of AGW and opposed to carbon emission reduction policies to step up their efforts to deny the reality and seriousness of AGW. One manifestation of this increased sense of urgency is the accelerating appearance of books critiquing climate science, attacking Gore and climate scientists, and arguing against the need for carbon emission reductions.
Such diffusion of climate change denial from the core sectors of the conservative movement, especially think tanks, is reflected in an interesting development concerning the denial books: a rapid growth in self-published volumes. This development has influenced the relationship between denial books and CTTs, as we see next. Our examination of the links between the denial books and CTTs follows the procedure we used in our prior study of environmental skepticism Jacques et al.
Specifically, links were established in one of two ways: The author or editor was affiliated with a CTT or the book was published or copublished by a CTT press often both. Author or editor affiliations with CTTs had to be empirically verifiable typically from the CTT websites, where they were listed as board members, advisors, experts, etc. In choosing to err on the side of caution, we have possibly missed a few affiliations. Table 1 shows the number of denial books linked to CTTs by decade — covers 11 years , as well by whether or not they were issued by a publisher or were self-published.
However, the primary reasons for the lower percentage of climate change denial books being linked to CTTs are suggested by the trends over time as well as a comparison of the links for self-published books versus those issued by publishing houses. Second, the large decline in the percentage of CTT links since is primarily the result of the preponderance of self-published books appearing over the 11 years, as only one third of the 30 self-published books coming out since are linked to a CTT.
This reflects the fact that many of the self-published books are written by laypeople, often without any scientific background whatsoever, who are clearly quite conservative and have presumably adopted climate change denial because it has become a core tenet of conservatism and is promoted by conservative media and elites. Also, 17 of the 75 books issued by a publishing house, including the numerous CTT presses, are published by overtly conservative presses or conservative religious presses as noted in the appendix , additional evidence of the strong link between conservatism and climate change denial.
As noted above, one manifestation is the increasing number of self-published books by conservative individuals not directly linked to a CTT. The fact that these authors typically cite and often rely heavily on prior books with links to CTTs illustrates this successful diffusion. There should be no doubt as to which set of books is most influential. On average, the books affiliated with CTTs receive far more publicity including media appearances for their authors , sell much better, and thus reach larger audiences than do those that are self-published.
In addition, individuals affiliated with CTTs are especially likely to produce multiple denial volumes—most notably Fred Singer with six and Patrick Michaels with five. In fact, of the 15 individuals who have published two or more books, 14 are affiliated with CTTs. It is therefore clear that CTTs have played a central role in the explosion of books promoting climate change denial. Indeed, the CTTs that have played particularly prominent roles in attacking climate science in various ways are especially likely to publish or copublish the denial books, with the Cato Institute publishing five, the Heartland Institute publishing four, and the CEI, the Marshall Institute, the Hoover Institution, and the U.
Institute for Economic Affairs each publishing three. These same CTTs are of course linked to far more of the titles via author or editor affiliations. This diffusion has been stimulated in part by the direct efforts of U. The results of the successful geographical diffusion of climate change denial are apparent in Table 2 and the appendix. The latter shows that 19 of the denial books have been authored or in one case edited by individuals residing in the United Kingdom, followed by 7 from Canada and 6 from Australia.
Other nations from which these English-only books have sprung include Denmark, France, and Sweden, with two each, and the Czech Republic, Germany, New Zealand, and the Netherlands, with one each. That 4 of every 10 denial books since have been produced by authors or editors outside of the United States is evidence of the success of the U.
The role of CTTs in diffusing climate change denial internationally is shown in Table 3. It is not surprising that all eight of the denial books with non-U. Although there is considerable variation in the strength of the conservative movement across the nations being examined, especially in terms of support among the general public, as well as in the popularity and ease of putting out self-published books, it will nonetheless be interesting to see if the production of climate change denial books diffuses beyond CTTs in other nations to the degree that it has in the United States in the past decade.
In their efforts to manufacture uncertainty over climate science, both the fossil fuels industry especially early on and CTTs have enlisted the support of a small number of contrarian scientists to critique and attack both climate science and climate scientists. Patrick Michaels and Fred Singer are particularly notable in this regard Hoggan, ; Powell, A handful of contrarians have degrees in disciplines relevant to climate science, but others have PhDs in less germane natural science fields e.
Our aim is to provide a good sense of the contribution of contrarian scientists who produce a wide range of material, from op-eds to policy briefs to an occasional journal article to the denial volumes, as well as the backgrounds of the nonscientists who are also producing them. We coded each author or editor in terms of his or her highest academic degree and the field in which it was obtained. For present purposes we have separated the authors or editors into three categories: a those with PhDs in natural science regardless of the field, thus including chemistry, geology, soil science, etc.
Of the of individuals who have authored or coauthored or edited or coedited one or more of the denial books, 32 have a natural science PhD, 24 have a PhD in other fields, and 50 do not have doctorates. We next assigned a code to each volume based on the highest or most relevant degree of any coauthor or coeditor. When it comes to putting out books, the denial community clearly relies on a wide range of contributors well beyond the small number of contrarian natural scientists in its ranks.
Thus, the campaign to deny the significance of AGW relied heavily on contrarian scientists early on, to give it scientific credibility, but over time climate change denial has spread sufficiently throughout the conservative community that individuals without any scientific expertise now produce denial volumes. Finally, just as we earlier noted variation in the degree to which denial books are linked to CTTs across nations, we also find national variation in the reliance on contrarian scientists. These patterns partially reflect temporal trends, since the natural scientists are most heavily involved in the denial books published before , and the preponderance of non-U.
What these patterns suggest is that early on a small number of contrarian scientists, primarily located in the United States, played a critical role in planting and legitimating climate change denial within conservative circles. As denial evolved over time and spread throughout a larger segment of American society particularly among conservatives as well as to other nations, the seeds sown by the contrarians have germinated and a wide range of individuals without backgrounds in natural science and thus relevant credentials for evaluating climate science feel free to write books denying AGW—and often publish them on their own!
The strong connection between contrarian scientists and CTTs is reflected in one additional finding. Unlike mainstream climate scientists, who publish primarily in peer-reviewed journals, these critics typically employ a range of non-peer-reviewed outlets, ranging from blogs to the books we are examining. A large majority—97 of the books—are self-published 33 , published by a CTT press 35 , published by a conservative or conservative religious press 17 , or published by a popular press 12 , and are thus unlikely to have undergone peer review—particularly by individuals with expertise in climate science.
Notably, not a single denial book is published by a university press. The general lack of peer review allows authors or editors of denial books to make inaccurate assertions that misrepresent the current state of climate science. Like the vast range of other non-peer-reviewed material produced by the denial community, book authors can make whatever claims they wish, no matter how scientifically unfounded. Weart , p. Non-peer-reviewed books espousing climate change denial offer an ideal means of presenting these claims, accounting for the growing popularity of such books.
Strikingly, many of these books not only provide fallacious critiques of climate science but also present an alternate reality in which global warming is a hoax created by a conspiracy of supposedly greedy scientists, liberal politicians, and environmentalists McKewon, The general lack of peer review for the denial books is a common feature of the vast body of literature produced by the climate change denial community, ranging from blogs to newspaper op-eds to policy briefs from CTTs.
Not being subject to peer review allows authors or editors of denial books to make scientifically inaccurate and discredited claims that are often amplified in conservative media and the blogosphere, potentially reaching significant segments of the general public. Although mainstream scientists occasionally take the time to debunk some of the more visible denial volumes, the proliferation of such books makes it impossible for busy scientists to critically review most of them.
Thus, denial books are likely to continue to multiply, and many will receive considerable attention from sympathetic and scientifically unsophisticated audiences McKewon, Riley E. Peter J. Jacques is associate professor of political science at the University of Central Florida and the managing executive editor of the Journal of Environmental Science and Studies. ISBNs represent a useful operationalization of what constitutes a book, although a few of the volumes could be considered booklets or pamphlets.
We do this because we do not want to overrepresent authors in the various analyses reported below. The two books by William Hunt published in and were sufficiently different that we decided to include both of them. Books referred to in text that are listed in the appendix are not listed in the references.
McCright and Dunlap found a surge in a wide range of material criticizing climate science, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and the Kyoto Protocol posted on the websites of conservative think tanks leading up to the Kyoto Conference. This includes authors paying vanity presses to print their books and those creating their own presses. Limiting our analysis to books published in English leads us to ignore a small number of denial books in other languages. We acknowledge that individuals without doctorates can develop considerable expertise with relevant work experience, and some would see, for example, Brian Sussman and Anthony Watts as having relevant expertise based on their experience as meteorologists and weather forecasters.
However, meteorologists specialize in short-term weather and not long-term climate and lack training in climate science and often hold views of AGW at odds with those of mainstream climate scientists e. See Weart , on the operation of these processes in the evolution of climate science. National Center for Biotechnology Information , U. The American Behavioral Scientist. Am Behav Sci. Dunlap 1 and Peter J. Jacques 2.