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

8 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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