Lejano, R. (2019). “Ideology and the narrative of climate skepticism,” Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, 100(12):ES415-ES421
It is reasonable to assume that more effective communication of climate science might be the remedy for widespread climate skepticism. However, narrative analysis of climate-skeptical discourse suggests it can be otherwise. Taking the United States as a case in point, we argue how at least some forms of climate skepticism are founded upon an ideological narrative that (for its adherents) is prior to, or more fundamental than, the issue of climate. In other words, skepticism may not always (or even usually) be fundamentally about climate to begin with. This more basic, universal, ideological construct at the root of climate skepticism encompasses social status, race and ethnicity, class, culture, and other social conditions. If climate-skeptical discourse in the United States is commonly built upon a genetic metanarrative that is really about social fracture, it may be resilient to scientific argument. It is quite possible that responding to climate skepticism will require addressing the more basic ideological divide and challenging the underlying genetic narrative. In the rest of the essay, we sketch out possible avenues for positive steps forward.