7 Scary Traits of Climate Change Deniers

by James Wallace Harris, Monday, January 30, 2017

We’ve been hearing about climate change for decades. We’re bombarded with scary documentaries, long range forecasts, books, essays, news reports, science fiction on what global warming will do to Earth.

What I find even scarier are the psychological traits of climate change deniers.


The power of denial might be eviler than actual climate change. Those traits reveal the limitation of the human mind. Our species, even with the best brains on the planet, might not be smart enough to save ourselves from self-destruction. Here are some psychological traits that could be more dangerous than increase CO2.


Climate change deniers reveal their massive egos by their righteousness. The world has spent trillions of dollars on supercomputers, satellites, monitoring stations, laboratories while hiring vast armies of scientists with Ph.D.s to use that equipment.  97% of scientists analyzing the results show climate change is real. As long as we have a significant percentage of human population thinking they are smarter than all the scientists, computers, and science, we’re in big trouble.


Science is our only tool for consistently understanding reality. Science is based the statistical consensus of evidence. Its methodology is designed to be immune to nationality, race, ethnicity, gender, class, sexual orientation, religion, philosophy or other biases. To reject science is to reject any hope of objectively understanding reality. People who trust science by flying on an airplane or having brain surgery but deny other scientific results indicate that humans might not be rational enough to survive as a species.


Greed is the main reason people believe they’re right and climate scientists are wrong. Solving climate change requires global cooperation, powerful governments, and taxes, three concepts hated by fundamental conservatives because it undermines their essential gospel of no taxes. In other words, they’d rather get rich than save the world.


The percentage of people who can brainwash themselves into denying climate change is terrifying. Their egos can embrace poorly educated talk show hosts over legions of highly trained scientists reveals a limited grasp of reality. Part of this comes from our ability to believe. The same trait allows humans to accept Jesus and positively know they’ve gained immortality. We can rationalize anything, and that’s dangerous.


Religion isn’t inherently anti-science. In fact, some churches are embracing global warming as a moral issue. However, hatred of science is a trait of many religious believers. They see science in opposition to religion, and since climate change is on the side of science, they have to choose the other side. To them, the choice is everlasting life and science.


Many people deny climate change because they hate fate. Climate change feels too much like fate, even though it isn’t. We can avoid global warming if we choose. Ironically, by denying a possible future they are creating it. They feel climate change represents an inevitable future, and they reject that.


Another trait of deniers is they deny responsibility to their descendants even when they’re family oriented. Instead of wanting to protect future generations, they shove their heads into the sand. They are denying an obligation to their children, grandchildren, and future generations. Climate change deniers deny the sins of the fathers.


17 thoughts on “7 Scary Traits of Climate Change Deniers”

  1. I was thinking about climate change the other day as I was walking to the bank and I noticed all the litter on the ground as I was walking. In fact in the California (ironically known as the tree-hugger state) Bay Area, there’s always litter – everywhere! I’ve even seen people throw garbage out their car windows as they’re driving! I think to myself: “why are people so obsessed with climate control when they can’t even get the average Earthling to stop throwing their garbage on the ground, in the grass and in the bushes? If we can’t be considerate about the little issues, how can we be considerate about the big issues?

    1. That’s true. I’m surprised you see so much litter. When I was a kid it was very common to see people throw stuff out of the car. Then we had the Beautify America campaign and people stopped. I wonder if the latest generation doesn’t know. We need a new Lady Bird Johnson.

      This is also why I think our own traits are scarier than climate change.

      1. When my mother went to Mississippi to visit my sick uncle, she was amazed to see no litter on the ground at all. And that state’s in the Bible Belt!

  2. Ahh. There is something about human beings ( I was tempted to say “beans”) that I have seen for many years that may at least partially explain this. It seems to me that we each have a really a complex mix of mindsets/experience/socialization and relationships, along with a built-in or learned method of dealing with them. Orwell did a good job (as did others) of pointing out that as singular, insular beings we are weak unless we are bolstered by an understanding or belief that strengthens us and brings us into contact with others like us. It could be family, church, education, society, life experience or many other inputs in our lives that lets us see beyond our own ego/persona/animal instinct. Yeah that’s a mix of psycho jargon but the point is we are driven by many things besides our internal and intimate conversations with ourselves. I’m not really sure that anybody BUT me has those internal bullshit sessions – but I hope so.

    Short term interests and actions are hard-wired into us; let’s face it we weren’t at the top of the predator scale up until a few thousand years ago – and never as individual animals. It takes a lot of effort to overcome those basic instincts. Civilization caused us to learn new behaviors, but that didn’t change our basic makeup. Modern civilization counted on national memes and education to bring the general population into a (more or less) coherent group that supported the status quo, i.e a democratic Republic in our case.

    Some people live their entire lives through their minds – not that they aren’t subject to all the other visceral inputs but they defer them until they have thought about it. That would get you killed quickly back in the day. Others live their lives as predatory omnivores, and never become concerned with the world around them – except as opportunities to satisfy their internal desires, wants and needs.

    I believe that most of humanity lies somewhere between those two ends of the spectrum. The problem I see is that predation will always overwhelm consideration unless other forces intervene. Human societies have evolved to minimize or at least alleviate that damage by establishing controls that limit the amount of predation that can occur. In some cases, societies actually became predatory themselves with predictable outcomes. Waving protest signs as the tanks approach requires a sincere belief that the worst won’t happen – or that sacrifice is necessary. Fancy that.

    But for that societal protective process to occur, there needs to be a general agreement/belief/trust among the populace of that group so that the pressure and controls can be brought to bear on the “miscreants”, aka predators. When an entire class of the society has become suffused with predators, when that class becomes the defacto leadership of the society, and when the power/wealth/government of that society has been usurped by the predatory class then I fear that it’s Katie bar the Door time.

    And that’s now. Just ask Pogo. Or as Orwell DID put it, “Ignorance is Strength”.

    1. I don’t often hear references to Walt Kelly anymore. I just checked and Pogo is for sale, but they’re very expensive.

      Well, Trump and crowd are a kind of predator, and they are quickly moving to control their power. It will be interesting to see how many people buy into their reality distortion field. I feel people like Paul Ryan have made Faustian bargains they will regret.

  3. I agree that religion isn’t inherently anti-scientific.

    In fact, I would go further: religion is quintessentially scientific. It is the result of questions about the very nature of being, as contemplated by early man. The trouble is that the answers that were arrived at acquired a generational inertia, were never really fundamentally updated, and eventually fell many centuries behind.

    I also agree that psychological factors are the key to understanding why people cling to obvious untruths. I’ll bet a dollar that if you show me 100 climate change deniers, I’ll show you about 90 adherents to at least one of the other popular conspiracy theories. That’s no coincidence.

    1. I’m late to this post, but Ive all observed the climate deniers are often conspiracy theory folks, Fox News watchers, religious in more of the fundamentalist strain, anti science to a fair degree, usually Republicans and generally suspicious of others not like them.

  4. It’s just Greed. I doubt any of these nuts really believe their own rhetoric. It’s simple greed. Their comments / statements are bought and paid for.
    Like the congressman who claims windmills / wind power will damage the Earth by diminishing winds thus creating more global warming.
    A 4-year-old would hesitate before making such a claim.
    Or the officials of a town (And the two local secondary science teachers) in somewhere-ville Middle America who came out against potovoltaic energy saying it will damage the sun.
    These guys are just paid for stooges. Nothing more.

    1. I think greed is the prime factor, but it’s fascinating how people psychologically convince themselves it’s not. All forms of denialism are essentially self-brainwashing to ignore aspects of reality.

  5. The question is, how to fix or slow it all down. The US can and should do its’ part as should all other nations. But what about nations that fail to help or do not go fast enough? Should we boycott or limit trade with those countries to economically punish them? If so consider this, according to the union of concerned scientists China’s share of the total carbon dioxide emissions is 27% and the US is 17%. A significant portion of that in the US is auto emission and coal burning. With China much is a result of industry. While China has been making efforts it is considered too slow in implementing required change. If we were to punish them or they got even more serious in fixing it, are we ready for the economic impact that would undoubtedly impact our personal lives? We all love cheap technology such as computers, TV’s, every Apple product developed. Would people accept paying much higher prices for their “necessary” gadgets and conveniences?
    Or what about here at home. If automakers and energy producers were pushed even harder to greatly greatly reduce emissions of their products and services which resulted in much higher electricity costs and automobile costs are we ready for that? I am well enough off at this stage in my life I could weather any of this situations. I am not sure about the low-mid income crowd.
    Of course there are other good options as well but energy creation and automobiles/machines (in US) are big enough issues that they need to be dealt with even more severely.

  6. Well written. I think religion is partly responsible in that it puts people into a mindset from an early age that allows them to believe ideas which have no evidence whatsoever.

    1. I think believing in concepts that lack evidence goes beyond religion, but religion might be the foundation. Much of philosophy has no evidence to back it up. A lot of our entertainment is based on plots where we’re asked to suspend our beliefs. Humans are geniuses at rationalization what they want.

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