Climate change deniers are a threat for all of us

Teresa Ambrosio
Sep 20 · 4 min read
Photo credit: The scientific American

Despite the scientific community has provided loads of evidence that climate changes and global warming are influenced by human activities (1), loads of people still claim that the problem doesn’t exist. The climate change deniers support the idea that these changes are due to the natural course of the planet because periods of extreme and unpredictable weather occurred in the past. This is true and, for example, we did have periods of extreme cold weather such as the glacial eras, extreme heatwaves, drought or flooding. However, these climate catastrophes were caused by small variations in the rotation of the Earth around the sun. None of these variations has happened in the past decades (2).

Who are the climate change deniers?

With regard to the demographic of climate change deniers, there is little research. However, the good news is that the vast majority of people see climate changes and global warming as a serious threat. They are happy to support green policies and make their contribution to addressing the problem. In 2014, The Washinghton Post run a national poll to check whether USA citizens were happy to pay $20 more on their electricity bills and contribute to the extra cost of getting their energy from more sustainable resources. (3) Overall, more than 60% of the respondants agreed to pay the extra cost. However, younger people, aged below 50, were keener on paying more than people aged above 50. Additionally, Democrats accounted for the vast majority of people who agreed to pay more with respect to the Republican counterpart.

Another poll run by the Washingthon Post showed how African and Hispanic Americans are more likely than white Americans to accept that climate changes are a serious problem. (4) In fact, 59% of Hispanic Americans and 52% of African Americans understand the reality that human activities are contributing to global warming, as compared to just 41% of white Americans. Social scientists descibe this situation as the white male effect. It seems that white males tend to care less than minorities and women about social problems because they prefer to mantain the status quo. (5,6) A study published on the Global Environmental Change (6) found that that conservative white males are significantly more likely than other Americans to endorse denialist views. Specifically, the study questioned a group of white convervative males and folks belonging to other gender and ethnical backgrounds on their views about the seniousness of climate changes, whether human activities are negatively affecting the problem, whether those participants cared about the scientific consunsus on the problem and if they cared at all. White male not only are less likely to care and listen to the opinion of scientists, but they are also actively contributing to deny and minimise the problems claiming than media exhaggerate its importance. The authors concluded that the unique views of conservative white males contribute significantly to the high level of climate change denial in the United States. (6) On a positive note, it is important to say that climate change denialism is largely a USA trend.

A few facts about climate changes.

Many argue than climate changes aren’t real because climate variation have been occurred in the past too. Differently from the past, the speed at which moderm climate changes are happening rose the main concern among scientists.

The level of carbon dioxide in the air is 30% higher than it used to be 200 years ago. Actually, the current concentration of carbon dioxide in the air is higher than it has ever been in the last 800000 years. The rise of greenhouse gasses over the last decades caused the Earth’s surface temperature to rise of 1 °C and it is expected to raise up to 2 °C more by 2050. (7) Is this due to the natural course of events on Earth? No, because the main sources of carbon dioxide emission in the air are fossil fuels and crude oil. We, human, currently use them to produce energy, drive cars, heat up houses etc. On top of that, pretty much everything we used daily comes from fossil fuels. Hygiene products, like soaps and deodorants, pieces of clothing, makeup, accessories just to name a few.

Methane is another greenhouse gas which none speaks about although it’s far more dangerous than carbon dioxide. Its level in the air is much lower than carbon dioxide, however, its greenhouse effect is 28 times higher than the one of carbon dioxide. Methane levels in the air have been also increasing in the last 200 years. It is estimated that the amount of methane in the air rose of 150% since 1750. (7) Again, is this a natural event or the result of human activities? This is 100% the outcome of the industrial revolution as well as a side effect of intense animal farming. In fact, cows produce about 40% of the methane that is released in the atmosphere every year (8). We eat meat, we destroy forests to harvest soy beans to feed cows and provide land for cattle farming.

CLIMATE CHANGES ARE REAL AND THE ALARMING RATE AT WHICH THEY ARE HAPPENING IS BECAUSE OF OUR APPETITE FOR COMMODITIES. PLEASE DO NOT CLAIM THE OPPOSIVE BECAUSE YOUR VIEWS ARE A THREAT TO ALL OF US!

References:

  1. Naomi Oreske, The Scientific Consensus on Climate Change, DOI:10.1126/science.1103618.
  2. Julia Slingo, Climate Changes, What’s Next?, Edited by Jim Al-Khalili.

3. https://www.washingtonpost.com/gdpr-consent/?destination=%2fnews%2fwonk%2fwp%2f2014%2f11%2f19%2fthe-polls-are-clear-younger-republicans-support-action-on-climate-change%2f%3f

4. https://www.washingtonpost.com/gdpr-consent/?destination=%2fnews%2fwonk%2fwp%2f2014%2f12%2f01%2fwhy-do-black-and-latino-americans-support-climate-action-so-much-more-than-whites%2f%3f

5. http://www.culturalcognition.net/blog/2012/10/7/checking-in-on-the-white-male-effect-for-risk-perception.html

6 https://sciencepolicy.colorado.edu/students/envs_5000/mccright_2011.pdf

3. https://agupubs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/epdf/10.1029/98JD00923

4. http://www.fao.org/news/story/en/item/197623/icode/

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