The Politics of Communicating Climate Change

Even though an emerging consensus of scientists agree that climate change is a manmade phenomena and not some natural occurrence caused bysomething beyond anyone’s control like the tilt of the sun.  However, if you are a fossil fuel company, especially one that stands to lose from any new laws enacted to regulate carbon dioxide emissions, for example, it is in that company’s best interest to spreadmiss-information and perhaps to manipulate the public with contraryinformation even if it has no factual basis.  It appears that as theevidence for manmade climate change mounts, the evidence presented byopponents is one characterized by increasing doubts about scienceitself.

In particular, the skepticism on the issue of climate change is not so much inquiringabout how we know, for example, that 50 years from now more droughtswill persist, but rather it is characterized by "a visceral mistrust ofscience, scientific institutions and scientific governance."Therefore, those who doubt how climate change happens or what kinds ofimpacts and their degrees will be, would certainly believe in thephenomena itself, but have questions for who it arises.  If a companyputs out misinformation and says, for example, that climate change isnot happening, that is not being skeptical.  Rather, that is an exampleof simply denying "science, scientific institutions," which form thebasis for the overwhelming evidence for the climate change phenomena.

In essence, therefore, it appears that there is a difference betweendenying climate change and being somewhat skeptical, although sometimesthose terms get confused.  In particular, science as a discipline isbuilt upon inquiry, investigation, and skepticism itself.  After all, in science, the questions are often:  How do we know this phenomena trulyexists?  Can we replicate those results?  Denial, however, simplyinvolves not saying, without any sort of justification, that climatechange is a "hoax" or "lie" whereas skepticism may come in the form ofsaying, "well, how do we know sea level well rise by two feet?"  Afterall, that appears to be a large number and individuals simply areinquiring as to how scientists and others arrive at that number.

Consequently, the politics of communicating climate change often seemsto be that if one doubts the science of it, they may communicatemiss-information in the form of denial.  In other words, "climate change does not exist and is simply a big hoax."  Skeptics which often getlumped in with the deniers may, in fact, believe in the phenomena ofclimate change, but they often engage in inquiry and questioning, thevery basis and essence for science as a discipline.

Original Article on Justmeans



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