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Climate Change Denial: Heads in the Sand

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Climate Change Denial: Heads in the Sand
Climate Change Denial: Heads in the Sand
Climate Change Denial: Heads in the Sand
AuthorHaydn Washington and John Cook; foreword by Naomi Oreskes
Cover artistRogue Four Design
CountryUnited Kingdom
LanguageEnglish
SubjectClimate change denial
GenreScience
PublisherEarthscan from Routledge
Publication date
22 April 2011
Media typeHardcover
Pages192
AwardsAustralian Museum Eureka Prize for Advancement of Climate Change Knowledge[1]
ISBN978-1-84971-336-8
OCLC682903020
363.738/74
LC ClassLCCN 2010-46147
WebsiteAuthor website

Climate Change Denial: Heads in the Sand is a non-fiction book about climate change denial, coauthored by Haydn Washington and John Cook, with a foreword by Naomi Oreskes. Washington had a background in environmental science prior to authoring the work, and Cook was educated in physics and founded the website Skeptical Science which compiles peer-reviewed evidence of global warming. The book was first published in hardcover and paperback formats in 2011 by Earthscan, a division of Routledge.

The book presents an in-depth analysis and refutation of climate change denial, going over several arguments point-by-point and disproving them with peer-reviewed evidence from the scientific consensus for climate change. The authors assert that those denying climate change engage in tactics including cherry picking data purported to support their specific viewpoints, and attacking the integrity of climate scientists. They use social science theory to examine the phenomenon of climate change denial in the wider public, and call this phenomenon a form of pathology.

The book traces financial support for climate change denial to the fossil fuel industry, asserting these companies have attempted to influence public opinion on the matter. Washington and Cook write that politicians have a tendency to use weasel words as part of a propaganda tactic through use of spin, as a way to deflect public interest away from climate change and remain passive on the issue. The authors conclude that if the public ceased engaging in denial, the problem of climate change could be realistically addressed.

For his research on the book, and efforts in communicating the essence of climate change science to the general public, John Cook won the 2011 Australian Museum Eureka Prize for Advancement of Climate Change Knowledge.[1] Climate Change Denial received a positive reception in reviews from publications including: The Ecologist,[2] ECOS magazine,[3] academic journal Natures Sciences Sociétés,[4] the journal Education published by the New South Wales Teachers Federation,.[5] An article in The New American was critical, describing the labels of "deniers" and "denialists" as cruel and forms of character assassination.[6]

Background[edit]

The book was coauthored by Australian environmental science researchers Haydn Washington and John Cook.[3][5] Washington worked for over 30 years as an environmental scientist prior to writing the book.[7] His previously published books on the subject of environmental science include: Ecosolutions (1991), A Sense of Wonder (2002), and The Wilderness Knot (2009).[7] In 2015, Washington was a Visiting Fellow with the Institute of Environmental Studies at the University of New South Wales.[7]

Cook's education includes a background in physics.[3] Prior to his work on the book, Cook founded the website Skeptical Science, which compiles peer-reviewed evidence of climate change.[3] He placed on the site the most common assertions made by individuals arguing against the scientific consensus for climate change, with evidence to refute each point they made.[3] After the publication of Climate Change Denial: Heads in the Sand, Cook coauthored another book on the subject, Climate Change Science: A Modern Synthesis: Volume 1 – The Physical Climate (2013).[8] In 2015, Cook served as the climate communication fellow at the University of Queensland.[9][10]

Climate Change Denial: Heads in the Sand was first published in 2011 by Earthscan, a division of Routledge.[11][12] Both hardcover and paperback editions were released in April 2011.[11][12] It was released the same year by the publisher in an electronic book format.[13] A second eBook release was published by Routledge in 2012.[14][15] The book was made available via Kindle by Amazon.com in May 2013.[16]

Contents summary[edit]

Climate Change Denial co-authors
Man with beard and sweater
Haydn Washington
Man in striped collared dress shirt
John Cook
Coauthors of Climate Change Denial: Heads in the Sand, Haydn Washington and John Cook

Climate Change Denial: Heads in the Sand presents a detailed analysis and refutation of climate change denial.[3][17] In her foreword to the book, Naomi Oreskes writes that people fall victim to the phenomenon of denial due to feeling frightened.[18] The book examines several arguments against global warming, and uses peer-reviewed evidence from the scientific consensus to back-up rationale for disputing the validity of each argument.[3][17] The methodology of those denying climate change is assessed, including: cherry picking data purporting to support their specific viewpoints, maintaining a high bar for evidence of climate change by those denying it, and criticism of the values of climate scientists themselves.[2][4] The book puts forth an explanation why certain individuals, and the wider public, have a tendency to deny the scientific consensus for climate change.[5][19]

The authors discuss the broader concept of denial using social science theory, noting its occurrence appears in society when individuals are frightened or ashamed of their actions.[4] They write that these motivations, when expanded from an individual to wider society, present themselves as a form of disease.[2][5] The book identifies climate change denial itself as a pathology afflicting the culture of the planet.[2][4] The authors lament that an inverse relationship exists between an increasing scientific consensus regarding climate change, and a simultaneous increase in denial within the greater public about the same issue.[4]

The book identifies a corporate underpinning influencing public opinion by way of companies which derive profit from the fossil fuel industry.[2][4] Washington and Cook write that politicians often use weasel words as a form of spin and propaganda, in order to act as if they are going to do something about climate change, while in actuality remaining passive on the issue.[4] The authors go on to identify a greater level of denial — within the wider public itself.[2][4] They argue that society enables denial of climate science through inaction and resistance to the scientific consensus.[2][4] The authors conclude that if the public stopped denying climate change, the problem itself could realistically be significantly addressed.[2][4]

Reception[edit]

Australian Museum in 2011

The book's coauthor John Cook won the 2011 Eureka Prize for Advancement of Climate Change Knowledge, awarded by the New South Wales Government as part of the Australian Museum Eureka Prizes, and was honoured for his role in communicating the essence of climate change science to the general public.[1][20] Director of the University of Queensland Global Change Institute, Professor Ove Hoegh-Guldberg, cited Cook's research and authorship of Climate Change Denial: Heads in the Sand as the rationale behind him winning the award.[20]

The Ecologist reviewed the book and described it as: "well researched and painstakingly footnoted".[2] The review concluded: Climate Change Denial is a wise and timely book. ... It deserves an audience".[2] Writing for ECOS magazine, Mary-Lou Considine wrote that the book "dissects objections to the peer-reviewed science" in "forensic detail".[3] Considine recommended the book for those who had previously visited the website Skeptical Science and subsequently wanted to learn more about the wider topic discussed on the site.[3]

In a review of the book by the academic journal Natures Sciences Sociétés, the authors' thesis was praised for its ability to bring reason to their analysis: "This book shows how we can break through denial, accept reality, and thus solve the climate crisis".[4] Natures Sciences Sociétés recommended the work for multiple stakeholders, concluding: "It will engage scientists, university students, climate change activists as well as the general public seeking to roll back denial and act".[4]

Janine Kitson reviewed the book for the journal Education, a publication of the New South Wales Teachers Federation.[5] Kitson described the work as timely and important within the context of a need for the public to act before a point of no return: "This is a crucial book to read before runaway climate change is truly beyond our control".[5] Her review concluded: "One can only hope that this book will be read by climate deniers so we can start the challenging journey to an ecologically sustainable future".[5]

In The New American, contributor William F. Jasper criticised the book's authors' characterization of those who engage in climate change denial as character assassination.[6] He wrote that the labels "deniers" and "denialists" were non-constructive and cruel.[6] Jasper disputed the book's thesis that individuals who disagreed with anthropogenic global warming were organised and financed by the fossil fuel industry.[6]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c "Top honour for UQ's Eureka Prize winners". UQ News. University of Queensland. 7 September 2011. Archived from the original on 22 October 2014. Retrieved 31 October 2015.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Williams, Jeremy (12 May 2011). "Climate Change Denial". The Ecologist. ISSN 0012-9631. OCLC 263593196. Archived from the original on 15 September 2015. Retrieved 31 October 2015.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i Considine, Mary-Lou (1 June 2011). "Apps Help Argue the Case for Peer-Reviewed Climate Science". ECOS. OCLC 696106998. Retrieved 3 January 2016.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l "Sélection thématique de livres §Changement climatique". Natures Sciences Sociétés (review) (in French and English). 19 (4): 474. October 2011. doi:10.1051/nss/2011153. ISSN 1240-1307. Retrieved 31 October 2015 – via EBSCO Host.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g Kitson, Janine (8 August 2011). "Climate Change Denial: Heads in the Sand". Education: Journal of the N.S.W. Public School Teachers Federation. New South Wales Teachers Federation: 36. ISSN 0013-1156. OCLC 225337865.
  6. ^ a b c d Jasper, William F. (21 May 2013). "Global Warming 'Consensus': Cooking the Books". The New American. ISSN 0885-6540. Archived from the original on 27 July 2015. Retrieved 31 October 2015.
  7. ^ a b c Goldie, Jenny; Betts, Katharine, eds. (2015). Sustainable Futures: Linking Population, Resources and the Environment. CSIRO Publishing. pp. xvi–xvii. ISBN 978-1-4863-0189-8. OCLC 876846499.
  8. ^ Farmer, G. Thomas; Cook, John (2013). Climate Change Science: A Modern Synthesis: Volume 1 – The Physical Climate. Springer. ISBN 978-94-007-5756-1. OCLC 811000063.
  9. ^ Cook, John (22 July 2015). "The 5 telltale techniques of climate change denial". CNN. Editor's Note. Archived from the original on 24 July 2015. Retrieved 31 October 2015.
  10. ^ Cook, John (9 April 2015). "John Cook: Climate scientists offer clear evidence". Winona Daily News. Retrieved 31 October 2015.
  11. ^ a b Washington, Haydn; Cook, John (22 April 2011). Climate Change Denial: Heads in the Sand (Hardcover ed.). Routledge. ISBN 978-1-84971-335-1. OCLC 811083269.
  12. ^ a b Washington, Haydn; Cook, John (24 April 2011). Climate Change Denial: Heads in the Sand (Paperback ed.). Routledge. ISBN 978-1-84971-336-8. OCLC 712480631.
  13. ^ Washington, Haydn; Cook, John (2011). Climate Change Denial: Heads in the Sand (eBook ed.). Routledge. ISBN 978-1-136-53005-0. OCLC 811083269.
  14. ^ Washington, Haydn; Cook, John (2012). Climate Change Denial: Heads in the Sand (eBook ed.). Taylor & Francis. ISBN 978-1-136-53005-0. OCLC 815973237.
  15. ^ Washington, Haydn; Cook, John (2012). Climate Change Denial: Heads in the Sand (eBook ed.). Routledge. ISBN 978-1-84971-335-1. OCLC 682903020.
  16. ^ Washington, Haydn; Cook, John (2013). Climate Change Denial: Heads in the Sand (Kindle ed.). Routledge.
  17. ^ a b Castree, Noel (2013). Making Sense of Nature. Routledge. p. 245. ISBN 978-0-415-54550-1.
  18. ^ Chandler, Jo (28 May 2011). "Forget facts, it's personality that rules reactions to climate change". The Age. Archived from the original on 31 October 2015. Retrieved 31 October 2015.
  19. ^ Walker, Chloe (17 May 2011). "Climate Change discussion". Afternoons with James Valentine. 702 ABC Sydney. Archived from the original on 14 August 2014. Retrieved 31 October 2015.
  20. ^ a b "Eureka moment for leading climate change communicator". UQ News. University of Queensland. 24 August 2011. Archived from the original on 19 October 2014. Retrieved 31 October 2015.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]