Although evidence for anthropogenic climate change hasn’t deterred ideologues from disputing its existence, there is one thing that climate science deniers rarely use to back up their argument: scientific evidence. That’s probably because there is very little scientific evidence to support their claims, and extensive evidence to refute them.
Conservative politicians and talking heads like Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK), Rush Limbaugh, and Donald Trump have persistently called climate change a hoax and used extreme storms such as the recent polar vortex to claim that cold weather negates climate change. Phil Plait of Slate’s Bad Astronomy blog writes,
One of the most fascinating aspects of climate change denial is how deniers essentially never publish in legitimate journals, but instead rely on talk shows, grossly error-laden op-eds, and hugely out-of-date claims (that were never right to start with).
There is no scientific controversy over this. Climate change denial is purely, 100 percent made-up political and corporate-sponsored crap. When the loudest voices are fossil-fuel funded think tanks, when they don’t publish in journals but instead write error-laden op-eds in partisan venues, when they have to manipulate the data to support their point, then what they’re doing isn’t science.
In 2012, National Science Board member James Lawrence Powell released the results of a research project in which he examined how many peer-reviewed scientific papers have been published in professional journals regarding global warming, and how many of those dispute that global warming is occurring. Of 13,950 articles on the subject, 24 rejected global warming, meaning there is a 97 percent consensus among scientific studies that man-made global warming exists.
Now, Powell has completed another project examining peer-reviewed articles published in scientific journals during the period of November 12, 2012 to December 31, 2013. Of those 2,258 articles on the subject, Powell found that only a single article by a single author rejected man-made global warming.
The consensus is such that those who still call climate change a hoax are comparable to the fringe groups who believe HIV does not cause aids or that smoking is unrelated to lung cancer.
A large number of GOP politicians are helping to perpetuate the denial machine, along with ideologue billionaires who fund conservative think tanks and institutes that spread misinformation and incite tensions. A 2013 Center for American Progress survey found that 90 percent of Republicans in both the House and Senate are climate change deniers.
Unfortunately, several of those are also members of the Senate Environment and Public Works committee. The survey found that 100 percent of Republicans on the Senate Environment and Public Works committee have said that climate change is not real or that humans are not the cause of climate change.
So why don’t climate change deniers use scientific evidence to back their claims? Maybe because one article in 2,258 is too hard for them to locate? And, in reality, their appeal to fellow ideologues and their complete abandonment of scientific evidence still seems to be working for them, despite years of continually growing evidence against them. Fox News and Rush Limbaugh use cold weather to poke fun at Al Gore, Donald Trump and conservative politicians call the whole thing a hoax, and somehow people still take their word for it.
But, climate change affects us all. It’s not a political ruse, but scientific consensus. The only hoax taking place is the one by perpetuated by deniers who typically oppose the consensus purely for political or financial gain.