If you were wondering why industry heavies and their media housepets traffic in climate change skepticism, here’s why: It works. A study just published in the journal Nature Climate Change confirms that if you sow skepticism, you reap inaction. When Americans believe that there is widespread disagreement among climate scientists that climate change is real, human-caused, serious, and solvable, they don't support action to address it.
For opponents of climate change action — who are either sociopaths or genuinely self-deluded, since they live on this planet too — it's support for the old Tobacco Institute strategy of avoiding consequences by sowing confusion and confabulation.
For those who are fighting for swifter action on climate change, it suggests that the battle against misinformation is one worth fighting. If the general opposition to climate change mitigation stems from wrongheaded ideas about the scientific evidence, then clearing up the distortions will pave the way for more public support.
For the befuddled U.S. populace, though, these study results may add a new layer of confusion. Now the scientific consensus is that people disbelieving the scientific consensus is why we haven't done anything about global warming. So now they also have to disbelieve the scientific consensus about the scientific consensus.
Support for climate policy and societal action are linked to perceptions about scientific agreement, Nature Climate Change.