The topic of climate change and wide-spread calls for climate action plague our media and newsfeeds. So, is the denial of climate change an alternative perspective or just plain ludicrous? This question operates on the assumption that climate change is a political concept and opinion, not firmly based in scientific fact. But we know climate change to be a fact. It is a fact that the amount of carbon dioxide in the earth’s atmosphere is significantly and notably increasing, ultimately raising the average global temperature and resulting in consequences which threaten life on earth. The stakes are so high in this climate change ‘discussion’, it feels stupid even having it. Yet, numerous politicians and significant figures refuse to accept the severity, and in some cases, even existence of climate change. And so, it’s a discussion we must have.
So why is climate change denial so popular? Simply put, the statistics and facts regarding climate change and man’s negative impact on the environment are so awful, that people don’t want to admit to both the damage made, and how at risk our livelihoods are. Also, eliminating the fossil fuel industry is costly – so money comes into play and impacts people in power. When politicians and people of influence give weight and support to the denial of climate change, the general public begins to follow suit – no one wants to admit that their actions are contributing to extinction of life on earth.
Climate change denier American Senator James Inholfe has compared the Environmental Protection Agency to the Gestapo and has made numerous speeches against climate change and in favour of oil-powered energy. He has further stated that global warming is ‘the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people’ and advocates that the climate is always changing, therefore we have nothing to worry about. Now, the facts are statistic that prove Senator Inholfe wrong all well-rehearsed – however, it’s important to highlight that Senator Inholfe has received almost $2 million USD in political contributions from coal mining & oil industrial corporations since the 1980s. And so, we have an individual pushing a damaging, climate change denying agenda for his own personal benefit, regardless of the overwhelming evidence supporting climate change and its disastrous outcomes.
As an alternative to individualist climate denial, we also have large scale governmental climate denial, regardless of how severely impacted these states are by climate change. Australia’s climate is notoriously unpredictable and radical, plagued by drought, bushfires and floods; it is one of many countries experiencing the effects of climate change right now, first-hand. The highly publicised bushfires of the 2020 Australian summer have burnt over 18 million acres of land and are still burning, killed 28 people, over a billion animals and destroyed thousands of homes. You would imagine that destruction on such a large scale would be a wake-up call to Australia, but it is not. Australia’s export industry is dependent on the coal industry, and neither the government nor private sector seem to have an interest in shifting this to an ecologically friendly alternative. Since this industry plays such a large role in Australia’s economy, this coal-favouring and climate change denial sentiment is pushed by Prime Minister Scott Morrison, and becomes shared amongst a large number of the Australian public, and so we are left with a developed nation, so severely impacted by the effects of climate change with a shared ideology of climate change denial.
Senator Inholfe and Australia as a nation are both examples of how the non-political issue of climate change has become politicised and economised, limiting and endangering our ability as a global community to combat climate change. Climate change denial is ultimately fuelled by money and influential figures and is arguably, pointless. Even if climate change wasn’t real, because in all reality, if climate change does end up being a ‘hoax’ the worst we have done is created and reshaped our economies to favour industries which protect and preserve the global ecosystem in its entirety. That doesn’t sound too bad.