Reconceptualizing climate change denial: Ideological denialism misdiagnoses climate change and limits effective action

Brian Petersen, Diana Stuart, Ryan Gunderson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations

Abstract

Despite increasing scientific evidence supporting the need for immediate and transformative action, effective responses to address climate change remain stymied. Scholars have identified climate change denial as a factor in thwarting policy responses to climate change. We examine new forms of climate change denial that are critical to recognize as the general public and policy-makers consider actions to limit warming. Here we apply a Marxist conception of ideology to broaden our understanding of climate denialism (Marx & Engels, 1977). We introduce the concept of “ideological denialism,” which conceals underlying contradictions and perpetuates the current social order. The ideological denial of climate change involves recognizing climate change as a problem, yet fails to diagnose the root causes and prescribes solutions that maintain the current system. We argue that ideological denialism typically stems from a failure to recognize a growth-dependent economic system as a root driver of climate change. We examine degrowth as a possible means to reorganize social relations with potential to more effectively reduce greenhouse gas emissions and limit global warming.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)117-141
Number of pages25
JournalHuman Ecology Review
Volume25
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - 2019

Keywords

  • Climate change
  • Contradictions
  • Degrowth
  • Denialism
  • Ideology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law

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