Environmental skepticism

Environmental skepticism

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Environmental skepticism is an umbrella term
Umbrella term
An umbrella term is a word that provides a superset or grouping of concepts that all fall under a single common category. Umbrella term is also called a hypernym. For example, cryptology is an umbrella term that encompasses cryptography and cryptanalysis, among other fields...

 that describes those that argue that particular claims put forward by environmentalists
Environmentalism
Environmentalism is a broad philosophy, ideology and social movement regarding concerns for environmental conservation and improvement of the health of the environment, particularly as the measure for this health seeks to incorporate the concerns of non-human elements...

 and environmental scientists
Environmental science
Environmental science is an interdisciplinary academic field that integrates physical and biological sciences, to the study of the environment, and the solution of environmental problems...

 who support the first are false or exaggerated, along with those who are critical of environmentalism in general. Environmental skeptics have argued that the extent of harm coming from human activities is less certain than some scientists and scientific bodies claim, or that it is too soon to be introducing curbs in these activities on the basis of existing evidence, or that further discussion is needed regarding who should pay for such environmental initiatives. One of the focus themes in the environmental skeptics movement is the idea that environmentalism is a growing threat to social and economic progress and the civil liberties.

The popularity of the term was enhanced by Bjørn Lomborg
Bjørn Lomborg
Bjørn Lomborg is a Danish author, academic, and environmental writer. He is an adjunct professor at the Copenhagen Business School, director of the Copenhagen Consensus Centre and a former director of the Environmental Assessment Institute in Copenhagen...

's book The Skeptical Environmentalist
The Skeptical Environmentalist
The Skeptical Environmentalist: Measuring the Real State of the World is a book by Danish environmentalist author Bjørn Lomborg, controversial for its claims that overpopulation, declining energy resources, deforestation, species loss, water shortages, certain aspects of global warming, and an...

. Lomborg approached environmental claims from a statistical and economic standpoint, and concluded that often the claims made by environmentalists were overstated. Lomborg argued, on the basis of cost-benefit analysis, that few environmentalist claims warranted serious concern. However, in 2010, Lomborg reversed his position and he now agrees with "tens of billions of dollars a year to be invested in tackling climate change" and declared global warming to be "undoubtedly one of the chief concerns facing the world today" and "a challenge humanity must confront". He summarized his position, saying "Global warming is real - it is man-made and it is an important problem. But it is not the end of the world."

Criticism


Environmentalist organizations
Environmental organization
An environmental organization is an organization that seeks to protect, analyze or monitor the environment against misuse or degradation or lobby for these goals....

 and lobbies argue that such widespread skeptical doubts have not developed independently, but have been "encouraged by lobbying and PR campaigns financed by the polluting industries". Supporters of environmentalists argue that "skepticism" implies a form of denialism
Denialism
Denialism is choosing to deny reality as a way to avoid an uncomfortable truth: "[it] is the refusal to accept an empirically verifiable reality...

, and that, in the US particularly, "large donations [have been made] to Senators and Congressmen and [have] sponsored neoliberal think tanks and contrarian scientific research. ExxonMobil
ExxonMobil
Exxon Mobil Corporation or ExxonMobil, is an American multinational oil and gas corporation. It is a direct descendant of John D. Rockefeller's Standard Oil company, and was formed on November 30, 1999, by the merger of Exxon and Mobil. Its headquarters are in Irving, Texas...

, the oil major, has been accused by Friends of the Earth
Friends of the Earth
Friends of the Earth International is an international network of environmental organizations in 76 countries.FOEI is assisted by a small secretariat which provides support for the network and its agreed major campaigns...

 and others of giving millions of dollars to a long list of think-tanks and lobbyists opposed to Kyoto
Kyoto Protocol
The Kyoto Protocol is a protocol to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change , aimed at fighting global warming...

."

A recent study from progressive
Progressive
Progressive is an adjectival form of progress and may refer to:-Politics:* Progressivism, a political ideology* Progressive Era, a period of reform in the United States Progressive is an adjectival form of progress and may refer to:-Politics:* Progressivism, a political ideology* Progressive Era, a...

 authors about the environmental skepticism movement claim that the overwhelming majority of environmentally skeptical books published since the 1970s were either written or published by authors or institutions affiliated with conservative think tank
Think tank
A think tank is an organization that conducts research and engages in advocacy in areas such as social policy, political strategy, economics, military, and technology issues. Most think tanks are non-profit organizations, which some countries such as the United States and Canada provide with tax...

s. They "conclude that scepticism is a tactic of an elite-driven counter-movement designed to combat environmentalism, and that the successful use of this tactic has contributed to the weakening of US commitment to environmental protection."

See also

  • Global warming controversy
    Global warming controversy
    Global warming controversy refers to a variety of disputes, significantly more pronounced in the popular media than in the scientific literature, regarding the nature, causes, and consequences of global warming...

  • Climate change denial
    Climate change denial
    Climate change denial is a term used to describe organized attempts to downplay, deny or dismiss the scientific consensus on the extent of global warming, its significance, and its connection to human behavior, especially for commercial or ideological reasons...

  • Scientific skepticism
    Scientific skepticism
    Scientific skepticism is the practice of questioning the veracity of claims lacking empirical evidence or reproducibility, as part of a methodological norm pursuing "the extension of certified knowledge". For example, Robert K...

  • Ecofascism
    Ecofascism
    Ecofascism, can be used in two different ways:# The term is used as a pejorative by political conservatives, centrists, and leftists to discredit deep ecology, mainstream environmentalism, radical environmentalism and other ecological positions....


Examples of skeptical works and analyses of skepticism

  • Horner, Christopher C.
    Christopher C. Horner
    Christopher C. Horner is an attorney in Washington, D.C., a Senior Fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, and the author of three books on global warming....

    , The Politically Incorrect Guide to Global Warming: (and Environmentalism)
    The Politically Incorrect Guide to Global Warming: (and Environmentalism)
    The Politically Incorrect Guide to Global Warming: is a book by Christopher C. Horner, who has appeared on The Daily Show, Fox News, Point of View, and The Jim Bohannon Show to promote the work....

  • Bethell, Tom, The Politically Incorrect Guide to Science
    The Politically Incorrect Guide to Science
    The Politically Incorrect Guide to Science is a 2005 book by Tom Bethell, the third book in the Politically Incorrect Guides series published by Regnery Publishing, after the Guides to American History and Islam....

    , Washington, DC, Regnery Publishing, Inc., 2005 ISBN 0-89526-031-X
  • Huber, Peter, Hard Green: Saving the Environment from the Environmentalists, New York, Basic Books, 2000 ISBN 0-465-03113-7
  • Lomborg, Bjørn, The Skeptical Environmentalist
    The Skeptical Environmentalist
    The Skeptical Environmentalist: Measuring the Real State of the World is a book by Danish environmentalist author Bjørn Lomborg, controversial for its claims that overpopulation, declining energy resources, deforestation, species loss, water shortages, certain aspects of global warming, and an...

    : Measuring the Real State of the World
    , Cambridge & New York, Cambridge University Press, 2001 ISBN 0-521-01068-3
  • Mooney, Chris, The Republican War on Science
    The Republican War on Science
    The Republican War on Science is a book by Chris C. Mooney, an American journalist who focuses on the politics of science policy. In the book, Mooney discusses the Republican Party leadership's stance on science, and in particular that of the George W...

    , Basic Books. ISBN 0465046762.
  • de Steiguer, J.E. 2006. The Origins of Modern Environmental Thought. The University of Arizona Press. Tucson. 246 pp.
  • Michaels, David. 2008. Doubt Is Their Product: How Industry's Assault on Science Threatens Your Health. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-530067-X
  • Chase, Alston, In a Dark Wood: The Fight over Forests & the Myths of Nature, New Brunswick, N.J., Transaction Publishers, 2001 ISBN 0-7658-0752-1
  • Driessen, Paul, Eco-Imperialism: Green Power, Black Death, Kenmore, NY, Merrill Press, 2003 ISBN 0-939571-23-4
  • Essex, Cristopher and Ross McKitrick, Taken By Storm: The Troubled Science, Policy and Politics of Global Warming, Toronto, Ont., Key Porter Books, 2003 ISBN 1-55263-212-1
  • Michaels, Patrick J., The Satanic Gases: Clearing the Air about Global Warming, Washington D.C., Cato Institute, 2000 ISBN 1-882577-92-2
  • Ortega Y Gasset, Jose
    José Ortega y Gasset
    José Ortega y Gasset was a Spanish liberal philosopher and essayist working during the first half of the 20th century while Spain oscillated between monarchy, republicanism and dictatorship. He was, along with Nietzsche, a proponent of the idea of perspectivism.-Biography:José Ortega y Gasset was...

    , Meditations on Hunting, Montague, MI, Wilderness Adventures Books, 1995, ISBN 1-885106-18-1
  • Reisman, George
    George Reisman
    George Gerald Reisman is Professor Emeritus of Economics at Pepperdine University and author of Capitalism: A Treatise on Economics . He is also the author of an earlier book, The Government Against the Economy , which was praised by F.A...

    , The Toxicity of Environmentalism, Laguna Hills, CA, The Jefferson School of Philosophy, Economics & Psychology, 1990 ISBN 1-931089-01-9
  • Shearer, Christine. 2011. Kivalina: A Climate Change Story Haymarket Books. ISBN 9781608461288
  • Swan, James A., In Defense of Hunting: Yesterday and Today, San Francisco, HarperSanFrancisco, 1995 ISBN 0-06-251237-4