In Monbiot’s article he suggests that there are ‘planted deniers’ on the internet – “professional deniers employed by fossil fuel companies”. As we’ve seen from the case of Bob Carter and his 1998 claim, this is true, but I don’t think it accounts for the majority of the attacks on climate science. The bigger problem is the thousands of people who repeat those claims. They’re not being paid, so there must be another motivation.
That motivation, I believe, is fear. We are all hoping that climate change isn’t happening, and that if it is, that we aren’t responsible. Even climatologists hope it isn’t happening. Kevin Anderson of the Tyndale Research Centre confesses as much of his latest gloomy results: “As an academic I wanted to be told that it was a very good piece of work and that the conclusions were sound. But as a human being I desperately wanted someone to point out a mistake, and to tell me we had got it completely wrong.”
We are afraid of climate change, and we are even more afraid of the sacrifices it may require of us. We don’t want to hear that we might have to give up certain behaviours, that life will be different. So we seize upon every shred of hope that climate change isn’t real and desperately repeat it in the hope that it becomes true.
One thing that confirms our fears is conspiracy theories. Anthropomorphic climate change is a con, a fraud. Al Gore wants your money. It’s the radical left, it’s a rich world plot to stop the poor developing, it’s a tax grab. These are not rational reactions. Very few people will actually gain from climate change, except those who are investing now in the growing markets for renewable energy, and those aforementioned northern territories that will be more hospitable.
We must not be afraid. Fear is paralyzing. We need to face those fears, make our peace with a worst case scenario, and then work to prevent it.