Arguably, one good explanation for why people reject climate science is that it scares them. Today Anthony Watts, who runs the climate conspiracy blog WUWT, said he was scared by air-conditioners, and Oklahoma City. He also said he was scared of rising seas. He often rejects the fact that seas will rise as ice melts.
I'd say that being scared is probably one of the main reasons for deniers denying. It fits with the research on the conservative brain. It's been shown already that free market ideology is a predictor of climate science denial. Pair this with the research on the conservative brain and it is apparent that emotions are more likely to get in the way of reason for people who are politically conservative than for others. In particular, fear rather than reason is probably what drives a lot of people to reject climate science.
Anthony's climate scare
Anthony Watts's commentary today (archived here) supports that notion. His headline was: 'Another climate scare story about New York City; climate models say it will ‘resemble Oklahoma City today’'.
If you read the article, the story isn't scary. It's about how climate change will affect the number of days people in different cities in the USA will need to use artificial heating and cooling in their homes and offices.
As a lead in to his copy and paste, Anthony showed how he is also scared of rising seas. He wrote:
Usually we are treated to scare stories about sea level rise inundating NYC, this one says its worse than that, by the 21st century, they’ll be like “Okies”. From the CARNEGIE INSTITUTION, and the department of modeled scare-de-jour, comes this claim:
Rising seas is a justifiable reason to be fearful. Humans don't live well under water. And rising sea level will mean a lot of property destruction as well as loss of human lives. That is probably why Anthony doesn't believe that when ice melts the seas will rise. He has written many articles in which he rejects sea level projections. He goes to some lengths to explain that if he extrapolates past sea level rise to the future, in a straight line, it would take anything from centuries to millenia for New York city to be inundated. Anthony doesn't deny that ice won't melt in a linear fashion. He simply ignores the reality. He is scared of it.
That makes him a good sucker for Bob Altemeyer's "scumbucket" - the Right Wing Authoritarian leader. And it may go part way to explaining why Anthony is a fan of people like Christopher Monckton, who is one of the nuttier conspiracy theorists in deniersville, along with Tim Ball (who appears frequently on a generalist conspiracy show). One who has a devoted following by a sub-group of WUWT readers.
Interviewer: "What bothers you the most about the arguments that there is serious global warming?"
Anthony Watts: "They want to change policy, they want to apply taxes"!
Anthony denies science not because of the science, but because he's scared that it will mean he'll have to pay tax.
Climate change in the USA
Back to the paper that prompted Anthony to admit he is scared of air-conditioning and Oklahoma City and rising seas. It was by a high school student, Yana Petri, working with Ken Caldeira, and published in Nature's Scientific Reports. Anthony was too scared to post a link to the press release he copied, let alone the paper. However it wasn't hard to find. You can read the press release at ScienceDaily.com. The paper itself is open access and easy to follow. The study did look beyond air-conditioning. It estimated the impact on cities in the USA if we follow a particular emissions pathway, RCP8.5. It made projections of heating degree-days (HDD) and cooling degree-days (CDD) across the USA. Figure 1 from the paper illustrates what the authors found - click to enlarge it:
Figure 1: Maps of interpolated historical (1981–2010) and future (2080–2099) US CDD and HDD, calculated from NOAA’s 30-year daily degree-day normals and CMIP5 RCP8.5 climate model output, respectively.
Source: Petri & Caldeira 2015
In the abstract, the authors describe what would be likely if we keep to this high emissions pathway:
By the end of the century, station median HDD + CDD will be reduced in the contiguous US, decreasing in the North and increasing in the South. Under the unmitigated RCP8.5 scenario, by the end of this century, in terms of HDD and CDD values considered separately, future New York, NY, is anticipated to become more like present Oklahoma City, OK; Denver, CO, becomes more like Raleigh, NC, and Seattle, WA, becomes more like San Jose, CA.It seems that the best place to live, from the point of view of hot and cold days, will be San Fransisco. You'd think this would have placated Anthony, wouldn't you, seeing he lives not too far from there.
From the WUWT comments
The thoughts started out with some quibbling about the temperature at which a thermostat should be set. Here are some other thoughts:
Greg Woods points out that seas will rise, affecting New York city. I gather he wanted the authors to study sea level, not temperature change.
August 4, 2015 at 5:18 pm
And not to be terribly cynical about their ‘analysis’, but what happened to sea level rises? Wouldn’t New York more resemble Venice than OK City?
cognitionemission made up stuff for reasons known only to them. Deniers do this sort of thing a lot:
August 4, 2015 at 5:19 pm
these are the same models that said NYC was supposed to be under water by now
Dale R. McIntyre tells New Yorkers not to be scared. Oklahoma City has a nice climate.
August 4, 2015 at 6:08 pm
Funny, I grew up in a little town just a few miles from Oklahoma City. And I’ve been to New York City many times.
If these modelers are correct, which is very much in doubt, New Yorkers will find that their climate is much improved as it approaches that of Oklahoma City as it is today. Winters will be much, much milder while summers won’t be that much worse.
Gordon Jeffrey Giles illustrates the deep, insightful, erudite commentary and incisive criticism you'll typically find at WUWT:
August 4, 2015 at 6:12 pm
craig is typical of another sub-group of deniers, who view everything and everyone through a money filter, even high school students:
August 4, 2015 at 6:42 pm
Superb work by the author, more modelling analysis so garbage in garbage out. But she is cluey enough to know where her next pay cheque is coming from.
kokoda is one of the many WUWT climate hoax conspiracy theorists:
August 4, 2015 at 7:19 pm
Yes, the con artists can stoop lower than anyone could possibly have imagined. Betcha Ken Caldeira can publish another Armageddon ‘study’ with an Elementary School student that has been perverted on Global Warming via Common Crap, (er Core).
markl is another, who subscribes not just to the climate conspiracy theory, but the paranoid view that people are too afraid to speak out for fear of being ostracised. Like recursive fury - adapting the conspiracy theory to fit the facts:
August 4, 2015 at 9:01 pm
How many people read this drivel and believe it? I would like to believe that most people understand that politics are controlling the media coverage and that the stories….are well…just stories and we’re not on an apocalyptic journey to doom because of CO2. Obviously there are some that want to believe it. I also think there are many who don’t believe CAGW but wouldn’t say so for fear of being ostracized. The alarmists are trying to outdo religion for shaming but they’re dreaming if they think they are in the same class. My apologies if I offend any believers with my frankness.
References and further reading
Yana Petri, Ken Caldeira. "Impacts of global warming on residential heating and cooling degree-days in the United States". Scientific Reports, 2015; 5: 12427 DOI: 10.1038/srep12427 (open access)
End-of-century Manhattan climate index to resemble Oklahoma City today - press release from ScienceDaily.com
From the HotWhopper archives
- Curses! It's a conspiracy! The Fury is Back Thrice Over - July 2015
- WUWT readers are too scared to read about rising sea levels in National Geographic - November 2013
- HotWhoppers, Monckton and His Scaredy Cat Prey - March 2013
- Quote of the Week - Anthony Watts himself sums up the scaredy cat deniers at WUWT - September 2013
- Downside of the Conservative Brain - February 2013
- Free marketers and conspiracy theorists at WUWT protest and prove Lewandowsky et al (2013) - October 2013
- Anthony Watts thinks an asteroid catastrophe is more likely than rising seas! - February 2014