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Climate Change

Published on August 28th, 2018 | by Michael Barnard


Male Right-Wing Nationalists Are Now All Climate Change Deniers

August 28th, 2018 by  

Over the past few years, it’s become clear that maladjusted conspiracy theorists were very likely to be climate change deniers. Just when those who thought they were normal people but merely skeptical were beginning to think that maybe that was just a blip, strong evidence has emerged from multiple peer-reviewed and published studies that if you scratch a white, male, far-right nationalist, you’ll find a denier of climate science as well.

It must not be very pleasant to hang out with other global warming ‘skeptics’ these days, what with so many of the crowd being so obviously frothing racists and deluded.

That conservative white males in the USA are more likely to deny anthropogenic global warming is well documented, as is the increase in that denial over the past decade.

We find that conservative white males are significantly more likely than are other Americans to endorse denialist views on all five items, and that these differences are even greater for those conservative white males who self-report understanding global warming very well. Cool dudes: The denial of climate change among conservative white males in the United States, Aaron M. McCright, Riley E.Dunlap, Global Environmental ChangeVolume 21, Issue 4, October 2011, Pages 1163-1172

The US study was replicated in Norway and found that in that country there was evidence that climate change denial was merging with right-wing nationalism and become a focal point of agreement in those groups.

Our findings resemble those in the US study. A total of 63 per cent of conservative males in Norway do not believe in anthropogenic climate change, as opposed to 36 per cent among the rest of the population who deny climate change and global warming. Expanding on the US study, we investigate whether conservative males more often hold what we term xenosceptic views, and if that adds to the ‘cool dude-effect’. Multivariate logistic regression models reveal strong effects from a variable measuring ‘xenosceptic cool dudes’. Interpreting xenoscepticism as a rough proxy for right leaning views, climate change denial in Norway seems to merge with broader patterns of right-wing nationalism. Cool dudes in Norway: climate change denial among conservative Norwegian men, Olve Krange, Bjørn P. Kaltenborn & Martin Hultman, Environmental Sociology, 05 Jul 2018

A German study found solid evidence of climate change skepticism being prevalent in far-right communication and that it often overrode values related to preservation of nature.

The investigated actors put forward a rather skeptical climate change narrative, even though differences exist as the significance attached to the Volkand its sovereignty, rooted in far-right ideology, sometimes overrides, and sometimes is in harmony with, their ideological-driven affinity with nature protection. We thus contribute to the growing body of knowledge on climate-change communication and, more specifically, on the link between ideology and climate-change skepticism. Being Skeptical? Exploring Far-Right Climate-Change Communication in Germany, Bernhard Forchtner ORCID Icon, Andreas Kroneder & David Wetzel, Pages 589-604, 08 Jun 2018, Environmental Communication, Volume 12, 2018 – Issue 5

Pew Research has done extensive polling on opinions related to climate change in the USA and documented the clear split between Republicans and Democrats on the issue of global warming.

While the Republicans have not in the past been readily described as a right-wing nationalist party, the most recent administration has certainly pandered to that subset of populace and Trump’s remarks after the Charlottesville white supremacist march of 2017 and the death of Heather Heyer were widely interpreted as supporting the white nationalists.

Similarly, Pew has documented the gender split in climate change skepticism, with men in multiple countries much less likely to accept the science.

It’s also worth looking at the gender split in voting for radical right-wing parties. Research has shown time and again that most right-wing nationalists are men.

One of the most consistent findings in the research on radical right voting has been the gender-specific profile of the radical right electorate. While cross-national (p. 201) differences do exist in the size of the gender gap (Immerzeel, Coffé, and vander Lippe, 2015), women tend to be significantly underrepresented among radical right voters compared with men (Coffé ForthcomingGivens 2004Gidengil et al. 2005Fontana, Sidler, and Hardmeier 2006Harteveld et al. 2015Rippeyoung 2007Spierings and Zaslove 2015). – Gender and the Radical Right, Hilde Coffé, The Oxford Handbook of the Radical Right, Edited by Jens Rydgren, Apr 2018

So we have multiple lines of evidence which support the idea that white, right-wing, nationalist males are likely to not accept the incredibly well-supported science of anthropogenic global warming and climate change. As with conspiracy ideation, white racism’s lack of rational and empirical support is a strong indicator of other failings.

With this data and evidence of climate-change denial policies explicit in nationalist parties, Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden is establishing a research project to assess this.

These parties are increasing in significance. We see it in Denmark and Norway, in Britain with UKIP, and Front National in France. But also, in Sweden, with the Sweden Democrats’ suspicion towards SMHI (Swedish Meteorological and Hydrological Institute), their dismissal of the Paris Agreement and of climate laws, and in their appraisal of climate change denier Václav Klaus as a freedom-fighting hero,” he says. Hultman also mentions the Trump administration in the USA as a prime example.

Through the new research project, a unique international collaborative platform for research into climate change denial,Centre for Studies of Climate Change Denialism (CEFORCED), will be established, which will connect around 40 of the world’s foremost scientific experts in the area and pave the way for international comparisons. The platform builds upon the world’s first conference in the subject,which Hultman and Professor Riley Dunlap of Oklahoma State University organized in 2016.  – Climate change denial strongly linked to right-wing nationalism, Announcement of establishment of research center by Chalmers, Sun 19 Aug 2018

There will be more and more published data on this in the coming years. For lay people, it’s sufficient to know that one of the groups where global warming denial is strongest is male white supremacists. That should give cause to others considering skepticism to be a reasonable position.

That is in some ways a positive, as a limited study found 17% of former climate change deniers had changed to acceptance of the science in part due to the credibility of the people around them. When your fellow ‘skeptics’ are tiki-torch Nazis, it’s probably hard to accept that they are rational about everything else except that. 


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About the Author

is Chief Strategist with TFIE Strategy Inc. He works with startups, existing businesses and investors to identify opportunities for significant bottom line growth and cost takeout in our rapidly transforming world. He is editor of The Future is Electric, a Medium publication. He regularly publishes analyses of low-carbon technology and policy in sites including Newsweek, Slate, Forbes, Huffington Post, Quartz, CleanTechnica and RenewEconomy, and his work is regularly included in textbooks. Third-party articles on his analyses and interviews have been published in dozens of news sites globally and have reached #1 on Reddit Science. Much of his work originates on Quora.com, where Mike has been a Top Writer annually since 2012. He's available for consulting engagements, speaking engagements and Board positions.

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