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Convincing Climate Deniers

Posted on November 26, 2017 by Matt Tomasino There have been 0 comments

It may seem appalling that some big actors in the American political sector still deny global warming. These people in game changer positions, some even in charge of the safety of your environment, often stink of vested interests in fast monetary gain rather than global safety. In defense of some, their lack of intellect may have caused them to believe the very few scientists (often tied to similar vested interests) who question climate change as opposed to the many hundreds who do not.

Convincing climate deniers is not easy but can be dealt with using some tactics from their own belief system rather than ramming them with a liberal agenda.

Moral Foundation

Many climate deniers are conservative thinkers citing millions of years of natural earth cycles and how similarities are being seen in today’s weather patterns. They believe that these weather patterns will ebb and flow just as they have done for centuries with man only being a small factor in affecting it. However, citing scientific facts that have repeatedly debunked this belief often makes a conservative thinker become even more skeptical. The best approach is to appeal to the conservative belief system or “moral foundation”.

According to Asheley Landrum, assistant professor of science communication at Texas Tech University,

“There's an idea called moral foundations theory that hypothesizes that liberals and conservatives prioritize different values,...Research has found that liberals tend to place a higher value on compassion and fairness, while conservatives favor purity, obeying authority, and loyalty, so you can't keep targeting conservatives with liberal tropes—talking about caring or compassion with them will likely be ineffective”

POL Points

Stay on point. Having a template to remind yourself of who you’re talking to is the first step in attempting to convince climate change deniers that the environment needs fixing.

As mentioned by Professor Landrum, what conservatives favor speaks volumes to them rather than what is important to liberals.

The three main points most crucial to a majority of conservatives are:

  • Purity
  • Obeying authority
  • Loyalty

You can remember these using the acronym POL. These POL points will allow a non-conservative to stay on track when trying to get across a more liberal point. Sticking to these just may cause a conservative to let down their guard and open their mind. Once this occurs you will know as anger diminishes and that “aha” moment arises.

At this point you can begin incorporating ideas for practices such as composting, solar and energy efficiency, as well as utilizing things like reusable bags and totes. Don’t forget to add in Eco-friendly USA made products to appeal to the strong patriotic loyalty conservatives feel so close to.

As reported by Tonic,

“A study published in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology reported that when conservative participants were presented with messages about how a pro-environmental agenda maintains the purity of America or how taking responsibility for yourself and the land you call home is patriotic, they were more likely to support that agenda. Another study found that framing a recycling effort as an obligation to adhere to authority and be part of a group—by showing a state's increase in recycling participation over the year—actually increased recycling efforts in conservative households.”

It's All In the Trust

Throwing statistics at a conservative is often counterproductive. The mindset of a climate denier is often “do battle first”. Therefore, telling them at the start that they are uneducated, misinformed or must get on board all falls on deaf ears. You must first gain their trust and, just like in some martial arts practices, pull them toward you rather than deflect them at the onset.

This can be done with genuine questions of their views such as:

  • What influences your current ideas about climate science?
  • What makes you uncertain that climate change is happening?
  • Are you aware of local changes that are rapidly occurring?

This last question is probably the most important as it is described by Edward Maibach, director of the Center for Climate Change Communication at George Mason University as, “experiential learning.”

Most people, even many liberals, do not respond to statistics that cite future devastation in 15-20 years or current catastrophes in faraway international places. Instead, referring to local changes happening in someone’s community could create a more immediate sense of needed action. If anything, it can certainly plant a seed of thought regarding the “purity” of their surroundings being threatened.

Some local changes you may be able to reference for experiential learning could include:

  • An earlier frost
  • Coastal flooding
  • Excessive local heat waves
  • Longer summers
  • Wildlife threats
  • Water contamination
  • How so much has changed in the environment since they were a child

Neutral Sources

CNN might be considered the polar opposite of Fox News (although Fox has often been outed for its gross misinformation). Therefore, sending your climate denier friends or relatives links to climate change science reported by “liberal” news outlets such as CNN may certainly result in negative blowback.

Instead, stick to neutral news sources which Maibach recommends as the:

  • National Climate Change Assessment
  • National Academy of Sciences
  • American Association for the Advancement of Sciences

No Social Media

By all means, do not post or argue on social media like Facebook. First off, it has already been proven that Facebook is a trolling ground for misinformation, particularly bot driven, fake news stories with many coming from Russian interests. Second, this type of communication is more often counterproductive because it gives a sort of “anonymous” platform where individuals on both sides feel “protected” behind their digital shield. This in turn creates brazen, emotional responses that only add fuel to the fire.

If you want to change a climate denier’s mind talk to them face to face, on video chat or, if you must, over the phone.

Like Minded

There is nothing a conservative, liberal and pretty much anybody in-between connects to more than a like-minded view. Therefore, to bring home your liberal Eco-agenda to a climate denier it may require finding influential conservatives that believe in climate change. Yup, there are many and citing these people could really get a climate denier on board.

Some well known conservative climate change believers include:

  • Jerry Taylor - President of the Niskanen Center, a Washington, D.C. based think tank
  • Bob Inglis - U.S. Representative for South Carolina from 1993 to 1999 and again from 2005 to 2011. He is a member of the Republican Party.
  • Lynn Scarlett - US environmental policy executive and analyst
  • Hank Paulson - American banker who subsequently served as the 74th Secretary of the Treasury. Prior to his role in the Department of the Treasury, Paulson was the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Goldman Sachs


Convincing climate deniers requires tactics such as these rather than anger, forcefulness, insults or ridicule. It turns out that America has two mindsets, however both can agree that they want the best for their family and atmosphere. Knowing how to communicate with one another is the key to change and hopefully these tips will help get more conservatives on board for a brighter future.

This post was posted in Blog and Green Library, Politically Green and was tagged with climate denier, COMPOSTABLE, ENERGY EFFICIENT, reusable bags, solar energy, USA MADE, water conservation


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