Effects of climate change denial on the scientific community

A recent study conducted by researchers at the University of Bristol, United Kingdom, is suggesting that climate change denial might push scientists to overemphasize scientific uncertainty. The findings of the study also confirm that climate change denial affects the way scientists speak and think.

Prof. Stephan Lewandowsky, a scientist representing the School of Experimental Psychology and Cabot Institute in Bristol, along with his colleagues from the Harvard University and three renowned Australian institutions, showcased how the language of people opposing scientific theories of climate change has become a part of the scientists’ discussion about the alleged pause or hiatus in global warming our planet experienced recently.


The research team at the Bristol University believes that this has resulted in an unwitting reinforcement of a very misleading message regarding global warming and climate change.

It has been a long time since we are seeing that media articles and blog posts are trying to make people believe that global warming is not taking place anymore. Now, we are seeing that the idea of a hiatus or pause in global warming has managed to find place even in scientific literature, for instance, the most recent assessment report of the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change).

However, there is enough evidence supporting the fact that global warming is still a constant phenomenon; this automatically makes the idea of the hiatus or pause in global warming misleading.


It’s true that recently the warming has become slower than the long-standing trend; however, such fluctuations in warming rate have always been there. Several times in the past, our planet has experience sudden increase in the warming rates; however, on those occasions we haven’t seen the scientific community focusing on short-term climate variability in the way it is focusing on now.

During those days of rapid warming, no research group took any additional effort for explaining catastrophic warming. However, this time even a slight decrease in the rate of warming has given birth to special issues of several top journals and a series of articles explaining the idea of a hiatus in global warming. This asymmetry, according to the researchers involved in the study at the Bristol University, most likely reflects “seepage” of contradicting claims into research works.


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  • Doesn’t this study hurt the reputation of scientists more than it helps? Basically, scientists can be influenced by public sentiment and therefore, they will speak with more uncertainty if the public doesn’t like their findings. Objectivity is out the window. They are not advocates for anything, simply trasmitting to the public information that says, “here is what we’ve found”. If a scientist speaks as an advocate, then its not really science. I understand the very real frustration of scientists to have their work, which is peer-reviewed and tested over and over, thrown back at them by people who do not understand their field and who continually deny the reality before us. While their personal opinions do matter, for the sake of reporting their findings, they should steer clear of language that conveys any sense of certainty, one way or the other about any particular findings.

  • A great book by a well respected scientist covered the topic in clear terms.
    Storms Of My Grandchildren by James Hansen

    He’s outspoken because the more people know about this very real global crisis the sooner we’ll be able to address it.

    Global warming is expected to disrupt climate patterns we have come to depend on and will only worsen unless we reduce our emissions significantly. The problem is that most of the Congressional republicans prefer to cater to fossil fuel interests or some political agenda rather that deal with a problem that will put our future generations at risk.

    Too many in deny the reality. A recent vote in the Senate proved it. We need to unseat those unwilling to think critically and do what’s in the best interests. Without a healthy habitat to sustain those that follow us, nothing, literally nothing else matters.