What's the strategy to prevent Covid-type denial when the climate change fight gets serious?

The upcoming fight over climate change is going to be far tougher than Covid. With Covid, the results were at least obvious: millions of deaths, including 700,000 in America, and many millions sickened - and yet even then, people could not even be bothered to do the simplest, lightest, easiest things like wear a mask, stand 6 feet apart or get vaccinated. And that was in a situation where the nation had a direct interest and everyone had a personal interest in not getting sick.

With that, how can we expect anything but far worse when the Great Climate Change War finally arrives? Denialism will be off the charts; talk about carbon emissions is far more distant and abstract than a virus that’s sickening family members or oneself. Nationalism will come into play because nations will grouse about being the ones to make sacrifices while other nations get to spew out carbon. In the same way people deny Covid even when millions have died, why wouldn’t they deny climate change even when the world is 2-3 Celsius hotter?

What’s the strategy to prevent a repeat of Covid-type denialism when that happens?

It is already happening and in many ways the same people. I’m been fighting climate change since the 90s. We’ve had false reports paid for by Exxon. Lots of pushback from Republican politicians in rural states. Even some problems with unions early on but that seems to have resolved at least.

I’m in a WhatsApp group of siblings and friends from our teenage years in Pakistan in the 1980s. Now mostly in USA and Canada. They are currently hammering Prius and Tesla owners and complaining about gas prices.

The majority position is that Climate Change is a hoax orchestrated by China to weaken the West and that we environmentalists are a fifth column working unwittingly or otherwise for our Chinese puppet masters. Doesn’t help that two of the three environmentalists in the group are married to Chinese Americans!


What @What_Exit said.

And I linked to this many times before (since 2012); in a nutshell, to prevent a lot of what happened before and will happen in the denial front, is to vote for politicians that do not deny reality and pressure government and private entities to do the right thing.

Transcript and link to the PBS video about how powerful interests and conservative politics got together to weaponize not only the denial of science, but also the demonizing of tools that were accepted and used before by conservatives to deal with environmental problems, like cap-and-trade.

(No need to sign up, one can close the nag window)

Here is what I see. If something is exaggerated to drive a point home it will immediately create two sides. I was watching some climate change videos this morning and I will give an example. In this particular video they were saying that today’s carbon levels are the highest they have been in 3 million years. They went on to say that seal levels were 20 meters higher, and trees were growing in Antarctica. The assumption here is that this is totally due to carbon which may or may not be true, I really don’t know. But I would like to know. Lots of things were different 3 million years ago. How much of that can be traced directly to carbon. Climate change is a huge deal to me, I take it very serious. But I want good information which is very hard to find. Maybe the media needs to be held a little more accountable for delivering information that portrays things in an accurate light.

Problem is that also the powerful interests have turned seemingly plausible anti-science points (like tossing doubts on solid research made before about how carbon in the atmosphere does increase the planet’s temperature) to be also talked about as if they continue to be valid criticisms after a huge volume of research is there already to explain concerns like that one.

What the science says…

Previous climates can be explained by natural causes, while current climate change can only be explained by an excess of CO2 released by human fossil fuel burning. Records of past climates indicate that change happened on time scales of thousands to millions of years. The global rise in temperature that has occurred over the past 150 years is unprecedented and has our fingerprints all over it.|

You just made my point. Everything you said was accurate and true but at the same time starts to create a narrative that is less than helpful. Of course industrialization is causing a temperature increase. It has gone up about 1 degree C. What does that once degree mean? How accurate is that figure? How much Carbon will be in th atmosphere if we burn every drop of available coal and oil?. Will the extra carbon create a larger living bio mass that will somewhat mitigate the burning of fossil fuels. How can we adopt to these changes while we are trying to find alternative fuel sources? I could go on all day with questions. All I am hearing is doomsday. If Carbon levels have been steadily dropping for the past billion or so years why do humans think it is a bad thing to be putting some of the most important life building elements back into the system where they can be reused?

If I may shamelessly OP-police the thread a bit, let’s not have this turn into a generic climate-change thread. Let’s focus on how to prevent denial from happening.

Not really, as your following Gish gallop questions showed, they just go for more arguments that were also dealt with many times before:

Just to deal with your final item:

And besides not looking at what was published before, (and the reason why I don’t want to re-discuss what real life is showing, that the scientists were correct, the issue here is about strategies to prevent covid type denial. As @Velocity points out, deal with that.

Just because you say they have been dealt with does not make that so. Just because the public has access to information does not mean they will get that information. Objectivity often does not serve to make a point that a point maker wishes to make so he has no incentive to be objective. We need objective reporting or we will always have two sides on issues and they will always be politicized.

One important item to prevent denialism, deal with the anti-intellectualism that is endemic in the US and many other places.

The NCSE is a group that helps ensure students across the country get the accurate, effective evolution and climate science education they deserve. Of notice is that they started as a defense group for educators that teach evolution, they added climate science to their defense objective when they noticed that virtually the same opponents of evolution came also against climate science.

It depends on the sources of information one relies on, in a way you can help the efforts to deal with the denial by pointing at how you got to push for such old chestnuts.

Names, please.

Incidentally, realizing that arguments are old, tired and stale is an important part of dealing with denial.

Instead of saying that arguments are tired and stale at least consider that maybe the people fighting change actually just have more questions, or maybe they don’t even know the questions but feel uncomfortable with so little information. Why not take the attitude that the whole story is probably the best story and it involves a lot of things and ramifications. I have tons of questions. I go to the internet for answers but can’t always get good answers.

There is no strategy. I’m of the opinion that civilization is doomed. So we might as well have fun while we can.

After years of discussions, it is clear that they are really uncomfortable with too much information.

Again, just like one goes for good answers about evolution to sites like talkorigins.org, one should go to skepticalscience.com for good answers about climate change and to check on the ugly way that powerful interests poison the internet with bad sources of information.

Well, that is one of my lines, but as noted it depends in big part on the leaders we vote for or for what reasons we should pressure other countries, that are not democratic, to do the selfish thing and protect the environment. Otherwise, for dictators that is, they will have bigger and deadlier “Arab springs” caused by climate change to worry about in the future.

If one goes to the SKS website, be sure to click on About then Team. Some of the contributors aren’t exactly experts on Climate Change. Mechanical Engineers, Software Developers, a scuba diver, a zoo volunteer, and a retiree who is “contributing” because he has time on his hands.

I agree with you on that and it is a huge problem. What makes things like that possible is when things are politicized and the agenda starts to become a point of conflict. Good information as opposed to slanted one sided information will win out in the long run.

One should be aware that killing the messenger is not a logical thing to do, particularly when they cite the science involved.

How is the zoo volunteer, for example, qualified to evaluate the scientific validity of what she is citing?