A recent post of mine (on the new American Psychological Association report on climate change behavior) got hijacked by climate change deniers -- who are unfortunately an aggressive and nasty-mouthed lot -- so as a psychotherapist and ecotherapist, I'm becoming curious about the psychology behind the virulence.
Why are these folks so desperate and frantic to dispute the current scientific consensus, which includes psychologists as well as climate change scientists? While I agree with them that a scientific consensus doesn't mean that all those scientists are right, surely it would be prudent to listen to what they have to say, based on their most current studies? And if you disagree, why the need to scream and foam at the mouth?
What the deniers don't seem to realize (or are paid not to realize) is that if they're right and they persuade us to do nothing about climate disruption, the consequences of this mistake would be truly horrendous for everyone, including themselves, their children and grandchildren. If they're wrong, however, and -- miracle of miracles -- we actually do something to mitigate climate disruption, we have a chance of becoming alternative energy leaders rather than the Neanderthal left-behinds... solar moguls rather than petroleum beggars.
Another benefit of getting off fossil fuels: we won't have to pay for expensive wars in fossil-fuel rich areas. Right now, the countries that still have fossil fuels, including Russia, are beginning to flex their muscles against the fossil-fuel-importing nations like the US. Doesn't it make sense to get off our "addiction to oil" (George W. Bush's term) even if a few of us aren't fully convinced that that will help mitigate climate disruption?
So psychologically I'm curious: why are the climate change deniers so upset, so shrill, so fearful, loud and angry at those who agree with the international scientific consensus? What's the psychology behind the screaming? What are the deniers afraid of?
Perhaps the fear is really political rather than scientific or even psychological. Some conservatives appear to believe that the concern about climate change is a liberal plot -- because that's what their political leaders have told them. And why are these political leaders putting out disinformation on climate change and health care reform right now? I'm afraid it comes down to politics and the corporations who pay the politicians' bills. The true fear may be that if reforms happen, the insurance and fossil fuel industries will lose money.
If the Republicans and other conservatives can't come up with some constructive issues that are worth fighting for (as opposed to just fighting against every scientific or progressive proposal), the party is well and truly bankrupt.