What Do Climate Change Deniers Have in Common? They Speak English
While in the United States, registered voters are 2.5 times more likely to vote for a candidate who supports action on reducing global warming, there’s no denying that there’s still a significant group of climate change deniers.
The question is, with all the science evidence to show that climate change is happening, and happening rapidly, and even a campaign by Barack Obama to call out the climate change deniers, people continue to believe that climate change is not a result of human activity. The question is: why?
Chris Mooney at Mother Jones took a look at some recent findings from the market research firm Ipsos MORI and found an interesting correlation between the top countries with climate change deniers: they’re English-speaking countries. The top three countries on the list were the United States, Great Britain and Australia. Canada comes in at seventh place.
Does that mean climate change denial is an anglophone problem?
Mooney notes that in these four countries, the political ideology of neoliberalism is present, and that neoliberal regimes have spread the most active climate change denial. For example, according to a study by Yale, in the United States, 88% of Democrats, 59% of Independents and 61% of liberal/moderate Republicans think global warming is happening, compared to only 28% of conservative Republicans.
Within these four countries, there’s another thing that ties them together: a media monopoly in the form of Rupert Murdoch.
“Indeed, the English language media in three of these four countries are linked together by a single individual: Rupert Murdoch. An apparent climate skeptic or lukewarmer, Murdoch is the chairman of News Corp and 21st Century Fox. (You can watch him express his climate views here.) Some of the media outlets subsumed by the two conglomerates that he heads are responsible for quite a lot of English language climate skepticism and denial.”
According to Mooney, just watching Fox News can increase distrust of climate scientists.
This doesn’t mean that speaking English will put you on a straight path to climate denial, but it’s a reminder of how powerful the English language, and its media, really is. “[W]hile there may not be anything inherent to the English language that impels climate denial, the fact that English language media are such a major source of that denial may in effect create a language barrier,” writes Mooney.
There are other factors that could be making for the Anglophone/climate change denial link, like our higher concentration of climate skeptic think tanks. We also experience the effects of climate change much differently than in other parts of the world, where the effects are currently more acute.
Are English speakers destined to be climate change skeptics? No, but there’s obviously something going on that’s keeping us from accepting climate science.
Photo Credit: Nicola Jones