Guest essay by Eric Worrall
According to British academics, climate deniers have not gone away, they have just changed tactics.
Climate denial hasn’t gone away – here’s how to spot arguments for delaying climate action
July 30, 2020 7.10pm AEST
Stop me if you’ve heard this one before.
The UK and many other rich countries have set ambitious targets for emissions cuts to tackle climate change, and have already made much headway in recent years. Further progress can be achieved while making sure that fossil fuels are used responsibly, and with promising new technology such as aircraft powered by batteries.
The UK should not do more though, while countries like China and the US continue to emit far more than we do. It’s hard to see why hard-working families should be denied simple pleasures either, like flying on foreign holidays.
In fact, why should we limit emissions at all, since the worst of climate change is already looking inevitable?
If these sorts of claims sound familiar – reasonable even – that’s because they are some of the most common ways of arguing for less ambition on tackling the climate crisis. Outright denial of climate change is becoming rarer, but is simply being replaced by more subtle ways of downplaying the need for urgent and far-reaching action.
In new research, we have identified what we call 12 “discourses of delay”. These are ways of speaking and writing about climate change that are commonly used by politicians, media commentators and industry spokespeople. Though they shy away from denying the reality of climate change, their effect on the collective effort to respond to it is no less corrosive.
What must it be like trying to make a career in British academia these days?
What do Professors of Engineering do when climate activists demand they draw up plans for Britain’s conversion to renewables, on a timeframe and budget provided by the activists?
Any argument for delay or deviation from maximum climate effort, any questioning of methods or timescales could be taken as evidence you are a
witch climate denier. The slightest hint of such heresy and you risk a demand from British academics that ye be silenced, lest your wrongthink spread amongst the common folk.