Confessions of a former climate change denialist – ‘I took online courses. I listened to podcasts. Every myth in my head popped and floated away.’Posted by Jim at Monday, November 03, 2014
(CSWA) – I, a scientist with a PhD in Microbiology and Immunology, was a climate change denialist. Wait, let me add, I was an effective climate change denialist: I would throw on a cloak of anecdotal evidence and biased one-sided skepticism and declare myself a skeptic. Good scientists are skeptics, right? I sallied forth and denied every piece of evidence that was presented to me, for a relatively long time.
It feels strange when I look back — I inadvertently fell into almost every pitfall of pseudo-science, shutting my eyes and repeating a series of mantras, such as “I don’t believe it!”“Why does it even matter?” and “I don’t care!”.
Thankfully, those days are over, but the memories linger. Although the evolution of my thought, from ignorance, to denial, to skepticism and finally to acceptance was a continuum, in retrospect I can distinguish certain phases that are worth listing and discussing. I hope my experience encourages others to loosen up some strongly held beliefs and listen to the din of evidence. Here are the prominent phases of my climate change denialism:
The “We have bigger problems” phase:
Being a biology and ecology geek in high school, my mind nurtured environmental concerns, especially in my birth country, Iran, where air and environment pollution, uncontrolled hunting, deforestation and desert formation are rampant. When I first heard about climate change through media (nothing had been taught in school), I couldn’t help but see it as a distraction from more immediate issues — poverty, childhood mortality, wars and conflicts, pollution, and so on. It bothered me to think of countries coming together and people marching in the streets over such a hypothetical long-term effect while children die of preventable causes. This phase slowly transformed into…
The “It’s all a conspiracy!”phase:
The conspiracist in me intensified after I read the novel State of Fear by Michael Crichton, a science-fiction author of Jurassic Park and The Lost World, and whom I adored during my teenage years. State of Fear had a very science-y look with references, graphs, arguments and counter-arguments. Its thesis was that the media exploited global warming to keep us in a state-of-fear and guilt over the very act of being human. And then, I moved into…
The “OK, it may be happening, but who knows if it’s our fault” phase: