Lessons From Recovering Climate Deniers

People who deny the overwhelming science on climate change may seem stubborn, obstinate and close minded.  But not all of them.  In fact, there are recovering deniers among us, and they may offer interesting lessons for how to reach others stuck in their former state of mind.

A question on Reddit about what changed climate deniers’ minds yielded some interesting answers.  Yale Climate Connections then analyzed the 66 responses.  The biggest reason was a slow acceptance of clear scientific evidence:

atlas_ryJxQi90x@2xAs the news site Quartz explained:

Seeing graphs of atmospheric carbon dioxde and overwhelming data supporting the conclusion that humans are rapidly, catastrophically warming the planet was convincing for many. “It’s just difficult for me to deny it with the overwhelming amount of scientific evidence that supports it,” wrote one. The desire to safeguard the Earth, evidence of extreme weather, and dubious sources among climate change deniers sealed the deal for most of the rest.

Yet at the same time, past studies have revealed that showing climate deniers more facts and charts just gets them more dug into their position. So what’s the response?

Perhaps the most important approach is to start with one that disarms a climate denier.  Frame climate solutions in less threatening terms, such as starting with solutions like geoengineering and nuclear power that can get deniers thinking productively about the challenge.  Other research suggests that talking about what might be lost with climate change or what the impacts of following the denial logic might be could be persuasive to deniers.

Otherwise, these responses on Reddit indicate that continuous hammering of the overwhelming scientific consensus may actually bear fruit over the long run.