In spite of a scientific consensus, many continue to resist or ignore the message of climate communicators – but why? What are the social and emotional explanations for this reaction?
Remember when the good comrades of the Soviet Union used to deal with their inconvenient political opponents or troublesome intellectuals by denouncing them as insane and locking them up safely out of the way in deepest Siberia?
The BBC has reinvented that technique in an attempt to discredit and silence climate change sceptics and force them out into the ‘cold‘…one of the first out of the blocks with this Kafkaesque solution was of course the now defunct Richard Black making an allusion that sceptics were abused in their childhood:
‘Why are virtually all climate “sceptics” men?…all proud possessors of a Y-chromosome….….climate scepticism has psychological roots; that it stems from a deep-seated inability or unwillingness to accept the overwhelming evidence that humanity has built with coal and lubricated with oil its own handcart whose destination board reads “climate hell”.
As one ex-scientist and now climate action advocate put it to me rather caustically a while back: “I’ve been debating the science with them for years, but recently I realised we shouldn’t be talking about the science but about something unpleasant that happened in their childhood”.‘
…And the BBC continues with repeated claims from its journalists that sceptics are ignorant, unqualified and driven by a political or industrial agenda…..and note the recent use of ‘Blogger’ as a description of all sceptics.
The latest smear is yet another attempt to label sceptics as ‘in denial’, in need of psychoanalysis and treatment to remedy this ‘perverse state of mind’
In Thinking Aloud (16 mins in) (Via Bishop Hill) the BBC bring in Sally Weintrobe, a psychoanalyst, and Paul Hoggett, to add the weight of academic qualifications to their smear. Weintrobe tells us that psychological techniques are used by people to deny or rebel against Society’s impress…ie climate change is real but scepticism is merely a childish response pushing against authority.
It does look likely that Weintrobe is not merely looking at climate change from a psychoanalyst’s view but is in fact a ‘campaigner’.
The programme began by the presenter telling us that sceptics indulge in ‘The security of ignorance’……so no doubt the angle he is coming from then.
Weintrobe tells us that it is increasingly clear that understanding people’s responses to climate change is more important than understanding climate change.
Where have we heard that before?
Now if you have been having a roam around the blogosphere reading the various articles by climate change advocates you will have noticed the change in emphasis….forget the science, that’s settled….it is now all about communicating the ‘reality’ to the ignorant masses…we must persuade them to believe.
I just wonder who has been talking to Weintrobe…both her and her fellow psychoanalyst on the programme, Paul Hoggett, seem remarkably up to date with the latest ‘narrative’ in climate change politics.
Has Harrabin or Dr Joe Smith been in touch to guide their thinking…or have they been soliciting her advice on how to deal with those who don’t have the Faith yet?
[Interesting link from a comment on 'Bishop Hill' which highlights a comment from the very same Joe Smith on a YouTube video featuring...'Speeches given at the book launch of 'Engaging With Climate Change: Psychoanalytic and Interdisciplinary Perspectives', edited by Sally Weintrobe. October 2012'... Smith says....'The discussion and the book are really welcome: this is a long-neglected corner of the conversation about how we cope with the emergence of new understandings of global environmental change. Joe']
The question Weintrobe says is most important is ‘Why is knowledge of climate change reality so resisted?’
Possibly because the ‘reality’…that man made CO2 is the main driver of global warming is as yet unproven.
The major fault with the programme, and which makes the programme kind of redundant, is that it avoids the inconvenient fact that most climate sceptics acknowledge that the planet has warmed…..they just disagree on the cause….therefore they are not ‘in denial’ about a fact….they just question the conclusions drawn by scientists, politicians, green pressure groups and others with deep vested interests that CO2 is the main driver.
The programme begins by saying ‘We take it as a given that climate change is happening’ (the unspoken part being…caused by man)…..‘our lack of concern can only be explained by unconscious factors.‘
Apparently people are too scared and anxious about the consequences of climate change to admit it is happening…they cannot cope with reality…don’t worry….psychoanalysis has a lot to offer we are told.
Our grief at the death of the planet is too great so we deflect our grief as the landscape cries tears….the guilt, anxiety and worry will just build up…..you need to engage with climate change before it is too late.
The Truth is what helps you!
Your fantasies, feelings and sense of identity can conflict with the reality…they can be treated.
There are three types of denial….industrial and politically driven denial, personal negation (which is merely the first step on the road to acceptance of the truth) and the very worst kind…as indulged in by climate sceptics…..DISAVOWAL, where we know the truth but turn a blind eye to it.
It is unfortunate that we are in a culture of denial…..a ‘perverse state of mind’.
We are increasingly aware of ‘weird weather’ (heard that before?) and so must minimise reality and disavow it to protect ourselves from dealing with it.
Have no fear though…we can move beyond this….by understanding our own depression and getting treatment.
So that’s clear….anyone who expresses doubt about climate change is in denial, disavowal in fact, is depressed and in a perverse state of mind.
Well, all good fun….but it was a serious point I opened this post with…this is nothing less than an attempt by the BBC to label anyone who has doubts about climate change as psychologically disturbed and in need of treatment.
It is surely the BBC that has lost hold of its senses in propagating this nonsense which is no more than politically inspired mud flinging aimed at silencing and discrediting climate sceptics…and as made clear…this is not an isolated incidence…it is part of a concerted campaign by BBC journalists to undermine and stigmatise sceptics.
Keep paying the license fee.