Tag Archives: New Zealand Climate Science Coalition

The climate change denial machine

Here’s an interesting diagram I found at Climate Progress (see Organized Climate Change Denial “Played a Crucial Role in Blocking Domestic Legislation,” Top Scholars Conclude). It’s taken from the book  chapter,Organized Climate Change Denial,” by Riley E. Dunlap and Aaron M. McCright in The Oxford Handbook of Climate Change and Society.

This describes the situation in the USA where Joe Romm points out:

“the fact is that what the deniers have accomplished in this country is unique in the world, going far beyond the spread of disinformation.  They have allowed fossil fuel interests to “capture” almost an entire political party — at least these in national office (see National Journal:  “The GOP is stampeding toward an absolutist rejection of climate science that appears unmatched among major political parties around the globe, even conservative ones”).”

The New Zealand denial machine

OK. things are nowhere as bad in New Zealand. But I still think a similar diagram applies here – providing we include international connections.

We have some local corporations and financial interests supporting climate change denial, but they themselves have international inks. And many of the fossil fuel interests in the US have connections down under.

At the next level we even have our own conservative think tank – The NZ Centre for Political Research. This has important links with local big business, overseas business and conservative think tanks, local politicians and news media. Links with the NZ ACT Party are clear – and one can’t help thinking that this was the organisation pulling the strings behind the recent leadership coup in that party. Especially as the plotters were not even members of the party!

Links with astroturf climate denier and contrarian organisations like the New Zealand Climate Science Coalition and the NZ Climate Conversation Group are also clear. The Centre for Political research also has a forum which displays plenty of evidence of links with some way-out conspiracy theory organisations and individuals.

These links with media, politicians, astroturf organisations., blogs and internet forums form the local denier echo chamber. Individuals involved in the echo chamber also spread their influence more widely, for example, to conservative Christian and political blogs, by their cut and past activity.  Follow one of these blogs and you get the impression of a few very active individuals passing on links to denier sources, and disparaging comments about science and scientists. They rely very much on the “authority by hyperlink” process.

The authors of the chapter from which this diagram is taken say in their conclusion:

“We have argued that because of the perceived threat posed by climate change to their interests, actors in the denial machine have strived to undermine scientific evidence documenting its reality and seriousness.  Over the past two decades they have engaged in an escalating assault on climate science and scientists, and in recent years on core scientific practices, institutions and knowledge.  Their success in these efforts not only threatens our capacity to understand and monitor human-induced ecological disruptions from the local to global levels (Hanson 2010), but it also weakens an essential component of societal reflexivity when the need for the latter is greater than ever.”

Again, this denial machine has far less influence in New Zealand than in the USA. But I think, if we remember the activity of the local components (as for example their attacks on our NIWA scientists), this conclusion does describe the local denial machine as well.

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Deniers in denial over climate information

I have been a little surprised at how some local bloggers have been getting all emotional about the “climategate” scandal in the UK, and particularly New Zealand climate change information coming from our National Institute of Water and Air, NIWA.

Well, not really too surprised. The ideological orientation of these bloggers suggest they would take up the line they do. They are usually quite unsympathetic with science and scientists. No, mainly my surprise is about the way they restrict their information to only a few sources (confirmation bias) and are prepared to attack the integrity of our scientists without searching for and reading what they have to say. Continue reading