Why do people not believe in climate change?

Taiwan’s Executive Yuan has decided to spend NT$300 billion (US$9.84 billion) over the next eight years to build infrastructure to generate green energy and preserve water.

Although Taiwan does create it’s fair share of pollution, it seems like the Island is taking steps to limit and be more green from recycling to the new announcement. Why is it that some politicians and people don’t believe in climate change. How can you deny it? I just don’t understand how you can believe humans do not impact the environment. It’s scary that a guy like Trump can hold the highest office in the united states and not believe it?

Short answer is that people in general are a bit 'tarded. Longer answer is that people have real trouble grasping fundamentally huge and complicated problems, especially if they don’t have formal training in grasping huge and complicated problems (say., a science degree). It’s a skill that can be learned, and most people just don’t learn it.

Also, as often noted, people won’t believe something if believing it impacts their salary.

But we are seeing people who are leaders of a country denying it. When I used to teach kids, I used to teach science of a class and they all easily grasp the concept. I just don’t understand how you can not listen to scientist all around the world about something.

Most educated people believe in climate change.
Unfortunately there are a lot of poorly educated people out there that are easily misled, especially when they wrap climate change in political and class colors!
Those poorly educated folks can then elect the politicians in (who either believe or don’t believe in climate change…it’s immaterial…it’s just used as a vote getter and a way to generate money from lobbyists and the corporate sector).

I worked in government where a number of different ministries pushed climate change initiatives. I questioned a lot of them through the economic development lens.

First of all, let us both agree that the world is warming. Let us agree it is likely human made.

So what to do about it? To often, idealists such as yourself think huge increases in government should be made. Too often, they are used for wasteful travel and to hire more government workers. You see this all the time when bureaucrats travel to fancy locales to create goals that they never reach. But the brochures sure are nice!!!Or when they launch schemes such as cap and trade that pick winners and losers and do very little but expand bean-counters and analysts. Carbon tax – slightly more successful in that it is less labour intensive and can be directed toward private sector initiatives.

So in other words – it is not so simple as denier versus believer. Rather, I would like to describe it as fanatic versus healthy doses of skepticism. Not of the science but of the human-made solutions.

Does that make sense or does the fanatic in you want to label me as a denier? :grin:

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CD: you write as if the overwhelming reliance on fossil fuels has nothing to do with government policy and expenditures (examples: spending a fortune on roads and highways; designing cities and communities around automobile usage; failing to invest in viable public transportation; etc). If the real costs of such fossil-fuel focused policies were properly accounted for, we could have a different discussion about “solutions.”


In the past, government expenditures may have caused problems. But I think a carbon tax when done right more than makes up for it with private sector purchases (e.g., procurement policies pushing energy efficient buses, etc ). But do you care to address the many other points I brought up?

My point is that many of us concerned about climate change are not expecting “huge increases in government” (as you put it). We are calling for governments to stop subsidizing and supporting damaging fossil fuel focused industries and lifestyles. This is not a private sector vs public sector issue; it’s a matter of resetting public priorities.


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The main issue is in the terminology, because while it’s undeniable that climate has been changing steadily over the last 200 years, “believing” in climate change doesn’t mean to actually agree to the suggested solutions.

I’ll try to go through some points:

a) Climate is changing -> yes

b) Climate is changing and it’s, in some percentage, influenced by mankind -> yes. It has been proven that earth goes through natural periods of warming and cooling. The post-industrial sudden increase in the average temperature seems to suggest that mankind influenced it. Saying that it’s 100% manmade is wrong, saying that man had no influence is also wrong.

c) What are the effects going to be? -> this is very tricky. Many scientists for decades has been suggesting that the temperature will keep rising until catastrophe happens. Other scientist suggested that earth is a system that self-balances, and feedback systems will greatly reduce anything caused by mankind. In the case of Co2 emissions and the increase in temperature, the natural result will be an increase in water evaporation, leading to a greater amount of clouds that lead to lower temperature (precipitations + screening from the sun). So far, all the models that forecast the temperature to keep rising have been proven wrong for nearly 30 years, so due to lack of any clear evidence I’m leaning toward the side of a self-balancing system, simply because any study that tried to prove otherwise has been wrong since 1988.

c-part 2) “But 97% of scientist say that…” -> I’ve heard that many times. Quote:

In an analysis of 12,000 abstracts, he found “a 97% consensus among papers taking a position on the cause of global warming in the peer-reviewed literature that humans are responsible.” “Among papers taking a position” is a significant qualifier: Only 34 percent of the papers Cook examined expressed any opinion about anthropogenic climate change at all. Since 33 percent appeared to endorse anthropogenic climate change, he divided 33 by 34 and — voilà — 97 percent!

If a “scientist” has to rely on this kind of tricks to boast the results of his research, I tend to immediately be very skeptic about his results.

d) What is the solution -> reducing Co2 emissions, no matter how much (or even if) it will impact climate change in a significant way, is something we should invest on. Even if someone didn’t give a damn about climate change, reducing air pollution is extremely important.

e) How should we reduce Co2 emissions -> another tricky part. If every country in the world invested a ton of money into reducing Co2 emissions and China + India didn’t, basically nothing would change. It becomes then difficult to evaluate how much each single country should invest into alternative sources of energy, especially for those countries with high energy demands (larger and more populated areas), and those with little/no access to alternative sources.

I wish there were more reliable studies regarding climate change, so that there wouldn’t be the need to talk about “believers” and “deniers”. And I also wish funds towards research were split more evenly, because for decades billions of dollars worldwide has been given to scientist working on climate change models and they’ve been wrong nearly all the time. If all the money that resulted in just hearing people saying:“Yep, climate is changing” had been directly invested into solar/wind energy, we would probably be in a much better position.

Let’s put it this way: if tomorrow it was proven to be 100% correct that climate change is influenced by mankind but will selfbalance itself with no catastrophic events within the next few years (this impending doomsday is something most scientist has been saying for 30 years, and have been proven wrong), wouldn’t it be better? I mean, being able to ignore short term effects and focus on long term and better investments on renewable energy seems like a much more achievable plan than:“WE NEED TO DO SOMETHING RIGHT NOW OR IT’S WATERWORLD”. This is why I’d like to see funds to be funnelled equally to both sides of the scientific debate, because so far the side that has received all the money hasn’t produce really convincing data regarding the issues I mentioned.

But the reality is often something completely different.

Climate change initiatives in government pick winning and losing sectors and subsidize. No better than subsidizing fossil fuel industries, which I also disagree with. Both are offside of WTO and other agreements.

I agree with resetting public priorities but believe the solution is through better products led by private sector innovation. When government gets involved, in most instances, it means vast sums of money wasted. Climate change initiatives are a perfect example of this. Free allowances in cap and trade? Subsidy. Monitoring cap and trade polluters? Huge hiring needed…Carbon tax is so much easier although I am not a huge fan of tax increases. You put too much faith in man made solutions to the man made problem. :grin:

I feel like lots of people just don’t care, like it doesn’t affect their lives that much for now.

But also, on a side note, I find lots of the self-proclaimed hipsters are extremely hypocritical, like all the green talks and crap yet they travel by air all the time. Sorta like Leonardo Dicaprio, just on a much smaller scale.

I think it goes the other way. Like Andrew says, it’s so easy to grasp, children can do it. Left-wing liberalism is a lot like that, it requires that you “think” with your heart. It only requires that you show that you care. Conservatism requires thinking, because solutions aren’t what they appear on the surface.

Climate change is like following a court case. You have to be able to follow the arguments by lawyers and then judges, there are differences of opinion, you have to thread out who’s arguing out of political bias, who’s arguments don’t measure up logically.

The science of it has to be analyzed, key point is the methodology. This is where they always pull the wool over your eyes. Most people are not educated enough to even follow the science, let alone the logical ratiocination needed to judge methodology.

Most people are incompetent or lazy at these things. For them, it’s just easiest to say I care and leave it at that. And those who disagree with me, simply don’t care.

It’s not scientists per se. That would be more balanced viewpoint. It’s climate scientists. These people go into the field only because they already have a bias, and this before they even learn everything they’re supposed to learn. The whole field is bias. Very few who don’t believe in anthropogenic warming will choose to be a climate scientist and balance the viewpoint of this category of scientists.

It should also be said that there is vast difference in these scientists view of how much contribution gases have on warming. The UN has it around 90% or higher. Most these scientists are between 30 to 90%, which can give a totally different light on the subject. These gases do have a warming function, that is fact that no one denies. But scientists who hold, more responsibly, that it is only 50%, I would say is well within range of climate denial, yet they will count him as part of these scientists who believe it as though it were 90%.

I think, and many scientists as well, it’s more like 30%. Sun is the most important factor, and gases just piddling. Our primary source of heat is the sun. Why wouldn’t fluctuations of the solar cycle not affect the earth? There’s much more correlation here.

Maybe it can be put down to idiots thinking they know more than the experts.

Because (insert politucal reason or conspiracy theory here).

To me, the best science involves questioning the status quo and has since Galileo. Unfortunately, climate change fanatics see only one side of the coin and use smear tactics that make the Inquisition look like a Debutante`s Ball. I really do see a fanaticism that reminds me of religious fervour.

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[quote=“ChewDawg, post:5, topic:158975, full:true”]
First of all, let us both agree that the world is warming. Let us agree it is likely human made. So what to do about it?[/quote]
As you said, there are three different issues here:

  1. Is the climate changing? The answer to this a really, really obvious yes. We no longer even need satellite instrumentation to see it. The man in the street can see it happening with his own eyes. But I think the OP was implying that people still deny this.

  2. Is it anthropogenic? Well, it fits the observed facts and no plausible alternative mechanisms have been proposed, so the methodology of science compels us to accept that, yes, it’s us. This is where most people come unstuck. They think science is like a court case, where men in wigs spar with competing evidence. It isn’t like that at all. The Popperian method hinges on disproof. The AGW hypothesis has simply not been challenged by any alternatives that stand up to scrutiny.

  3. What do we do about it? I completely agree that politicians are not the best people to decide this (via subsidies, taxes, etc). However, they should make room for innovation which might be part of the solution. The vendetta against Uber (whose business model should reduce car ownership and wasted car miles somewhat) is a classic example of this not happening the way it should.

IbisWtf: unfortunately, humans have never been any good at predicting the future. You could actually show mathematically that predicting the results of AGW is essentially impossible. That’s why outcomes are always stated as probabilities.

What irritates me about the whole debate is that fixing AGW is pathetically easy, at least in terms of low-hanging fruit like transport and farming. Solar energy is now much cheaper than gasoline for most applications. But then we get the likes of Trump who think it’s OK to keep entire countries locked in the dark ages because, well, that’s what we’ve been doing for 100 years and dammit we’re going to keep doing it for another 100!


[quote=“finley, post:16, topic:158975, full:true”]
2) Is it anthropogenic? Well, it fits the observed facts and no plausible alternative mechanisms have been proposed, so the methodology of science compels us to accept that, yes, it’s us. This is where most people come unstuck. They think science is like a court case, where men in wigs spar with competing evidence. It isn’t like that at all. The Popperian method hinges on disproof. The AGW hypothesis has simply not been challenged by any alternatives that stand up to scrutiny.[/quote]
No, I didn’t say science is like a court case, I said the issue of climate change is. Science is evidence all of which must be analyzed, vetted, verified, and then weighed and prioritized. There is good science and bad science, and that’s where methodology is key. Some unscrupulous scientists are like unscrupulous lawyers, they can get you to believe anything and all under the rubric of “science” because you don’t read the small print, which is the methodology.

Second, science isn’t about a consensus of scientists. It is either right or wrong no matter what people believe. Science is 100% correct even if 100% of people disagree with it. Just like economics.

There are very viable alternatives, such as the solar cycle predicting warm and cold spells in the past. Also El Nino-La Nina patterns have been extensively studied as a plausible explanation for climate change, which also is based on solar cycles. Your people ignore it, because they want to believe in what they want to believe in. It doesn’t come down to pure science so much as it does bias. Even scientists opine and are political. They see what they try to see, and don’t see what they aren’t looking for.

[quote]3) What do we do about it? I completely agree that politicians are not the best people to decide this (via subsidies, taxes, etc). [/quote]They are the best people to decide, because they are representatives of the people. Scientists are not above democracy. In mostly English-speaking countries climate change pretty much comes down political lines. Politicians are not above using “science” to promote their own political agendas. The Democrat Party regularly offers grants for research on climate change with the “right” opinion. There are plenty of “scientists” willing to comply with the demand.

But not as predictable, you’ll always want something to back it up. Especially as the sun is getting quieter these days and we seem headed for another cold age, solar power will be even more unpredictable.


[quote=“jotham, post:17, topic:158975, full:true”]
No, I didn’t say science is like a court case, I said the issue of climate change is. [/quote]
What’s the difference? Isn’t climate science supposed to be science?

No. This is precisely how science does not work. The sifting of evidence etc are preliminaries to the development of a hypothesis. Once a hypothesis is solid enough to become a theory (as in “the AGW theory”) then the only thing that can displace it is a competing hypothesis that explains observed facts better. The various alternatives you mention have been examined and discarded, because they simply don’t explain the observed facts very well.

Certainly. But the problem is 90% of the general public - including 90% of politicians - have no scientific education. They know literally nothing about science. And that’s how they end up either being deceived, or deceiving others.

Not really. Science is never “correct” or “incorrect”. Instead, a theory either works or it doesn’t. We don’t really care if the formulae representing the behaviour of electrons are “true” (whatever that even means in this context). All we care about is whether it works: whether the theory accurately reflects what electrons do.

Dunno who ‘my people’ are. I’m not a climate scientist, but I have enough scientific education to read a graph or a research paper and draw my own conclusions.

Oh come on. We all know ‘representatives’ are mostly interested in representing themselves, or their sponsors. My point was, why not simply give The People freedom to create solutions?

You’re confusing predictability with controllability. Solar output is extremely predictable. How do you suppose off-grid solar installers calculate the size of the attached storage?

You only need something to back it up if your load is not matched to the expected output. If, for example, you’re driving air-conditioning, little or no energy storage is necessary, because aircon load is very closely correlated to solar output.

The question is rather: what is more cost effective, to deny the problem and keep on going the same path, or investing a lot in a whole paradigm changer? Which brings more personal benefit? As politicians, the latter is dangerous because any change means loss of power. Hence, opposition to even acknowledge that there is a problem.

Think of the planet as your house. Is the house dirty? Do you feel fine living in a dirty house? If you do not give teh house maintenenca, what happens when it falls apart? If you throw the garbage in your own water supply, will it affect your health? If you put decomposing matter in the fridge, will that make you sick when you eat fresh food?

This has to do with clean energy. It has been on the table since people started questioning if the supply of fossil fuel was infinite and/or harmless.Then, the realization that our bubble of Earth does not clean itself as fast as we humans make it dirty. That is one of the problems.

Just acknowledging that we are responsible for contamination that won’t go away, from plastic to nuclear, is indeed a big step…even though the evidence is right there everywhere we look, taking that step is harder each day.

Then we are asking people to believe that this is not only making us sick, but also making the planet so sick it has a fever. We are destroying our planet piece by piece and we think we are so small we are not really doing anything catastrophic. But we have already destroyed as many species as other natural catastrophes … in less than 100 years. Our technical capacity for destruction surpases any of our creation efforts… simply because most of the stuff we destroy we destroy for good. Once it is gone, it is gone.

Moreover, most people in power are like 70 year olds, from closed priviled environments, who were taught concepts like water and air are renewable resources. If we could guarantee humanity would last 10 thousand years while the land heals, maybe, but some stuff we have broken we keep polluting/destroying. So we are basically probing a wound, keeping it open, and not giving it time to heal… while we go and kill/pollute/destroy other parts of the same body.

All because it was thought that it did not matter, that we were masters of the Universe, hence OK to do as we pleased. The ones in power just close the window and doors and spend more mopney to isolate themselves in a bubble, and do not allow real cleaning action action to take place. Or even discussed. That is a the biggest problem: a small group of old people who will not be there to see the consequences of their actions, taking decisions that will affect generations to come and may even spell doom for many species… including us.

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While most of your points are sound and I agree with, I do want to point out that the solution to AGW is definitely not that easy.

Solar is only cheaper with heavy government subsidies atm. As an example, in Taiwan we have companies that construct solar panel on roof for free if you sign a 20 years contract. This 20 year contract is back to back to a Taiwanese government contract selling electricity to them which is also 20 years (AKA no one else can afford buying solar electricity at current price).

Another thing is that current battery making technology is not very clean (I’m currently working in this industry), and even big names like Tesla has to use materials from other countries because of how much pollution those creates.

Therefor to battle AGW is not build more panels because it will bankrupt the energy department of any country for a long time. Is Trump the voice of reason then? Probably not. But that does not mean the opposite of what he said is true.

Lastly, I think the best way to provide energy in the future is fusion.