Although statistics on global warming and climate change speak loud and clear, many people are still not fully aware of these alarming facts. Even worse, there are quite many people consciously denying that it has to do largely with what we are doing to our beautiful planet.

Expressed in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the EU – quite unexpectedly – the sectors contributing are energy with 77%, agriculture with 10%, industry with 9%, and waste management with 3%. There is no ground left to doubt that we are responsible for global warming, which is happening consistently since the industrial revolution. The average temperatures are now 1.2 degrees Celsius higher than a century ago! And scientists consider an increase of 2 degrees to be a threshold with catastrophic consequences for the environment, and consequently for the climate. We are moving in the wrong direction, and the year 2020 was the warmest in European recorded history!

To prevent man-made global warming from continuing, the UN adopted 2015 the Sustainable Development Strategy 2030 (SDS 30) – a very important commitment to preventing such a catastrophe. Reflecting the urgency of the situation, the same time, also an Action Plan 2021-2023 has been adopted. Needless to say, this requires many changes in life on our overcrowded planet (over the last 120 years the population has doubled)! However, very little is really happening!

In this battle humanity is facing a double challenge there is a lack of determination to undertake measures preventing further global warming, and even worse. Still quite a widespread denial of the scientifically verified and proven evaluation of the human share in causing global warming. And this can and should be addressed urgently!

Many who deny, dismiss, or hold unwarranted doubt about the scientific consensus on anthropogenic global warming label themselves as "climate change sceptics", which several scientists have noted, is an inaccurate description. Climate change denial can also be implicit when individuals or social groups accept the science, but fail to come to terms with it, and consequently remain unable to translate their acceptance into action.

The campaign to undermine public trust in climate science has been described as a "denial machine", organized by industrial, political and ideological interests, and supported by conservative media and bloggers sceptical of global warming.

The politics of global warming has been affected by climate change denial and the political global warming controversy, undermining the efforts to act on climate change or adapt to the warming climate. Those promoting denial commonly use rhetorical tactics to give the appearance of a scientific controversy where there is none.

Organized campaigning to undermine public trust in climate science is associated with conservative economic policies pushed by industrial interests opposed to the regulation of CO2 emissions. Climate change denial has been associated with the fossil fuels lobby, the Koch Brothers, industry advocates and conservative think tanks, most frequently in the United States. More than 90% of papers sceptical on climate change originate from right-wing think tanks.

Interestingly, as recently as in the 1970s, several oil companies were publishing research which broadly concurred with the scientific community's view on global warming. Later, however, oil companies organized a climate change denial campaign to disseminate public disinformation for several decades, a strategy that has been compared to the organized denial of the hazards of tobacco smoking by the tobacco industry, and often even carried out by the same individuals who previously spread the tobacco industry's denialist propaganda!

Climate change denialism may not be an official casualty of the climate crisis just yet. But its demise is being hastened by a growing awareness of the cost of complacency – particularly in view of recent temperature records, accompanied by draughts and extensive fires.

Who are the main deniers? According to YouGov, Indonesia and the U.S. are the countries with the highest shares of climate change deniers. In a survey carried out in July and August, 21% of Indonesians and 19% of Americans said that climate change was not real or that humans weren't responsible. While only 3% of Indonesians said that climate change wasn't happening at all, that number was 5% in the U.S. The number of outright deniers was just as high in several countries in the survey, even though they scored lower on overall climate change denial. Among other countries with high rates of deniers were Saudi Arabia and Egypt, two more countries reliant on fossil fuels for exports or use at home. India, which shares rank four, is a notable example of a country dealing with fake news and the spread of conspiracy beliefs lately, which could have contributed to the result (Infographic No. 2).

As people began to realize the scientists alarmed by global warming might know what they were talking about, denialism gained momentum and generous financial backing. The benign-sounding Global Climate Coalition appeared in 1989. A few years later the US lobbying group issued a press release emphasizing that some scientists think “the world’s climate is naturally, gradually cooling.” In the lead-up to negotiations for a global climate agreement in Kyoto in 1997, the group placed an advertisement calling it a “bad deal for America”, and the US opted out.

Abundant denialism carried into the next century. A form of news reporting that both-side of the “debate” by portraying denialists as independent thinkers, despite evidence to the contrary, didn’t help.

More recently, climate change denialism has been undercut by arresting images of the driest spot in North America turning into one of its wettest, or of people wearing shorts in the rapidly-warming Arctic.

It also been diminished as farmers are forced to go without irrigation, and shipping firms suddenly lack functional waterways. The climate change-linked drought now undermining trade in Europe comes as the region has already faced a looming recession.

Yet, denialism still persists. Research published earlier this year found that Facebook was failing to label about half of the climate change denial on the site, even after pledging to crack it down. It has also evolved; a scientist who once got death threats from climate deniers described a shift in their tactics, from vehement rejection to deflecting blame and delaying action.

Ultimately, hard economic realities should make this less tenable – and further vindicate the people who have spent decades trying to cut through cynicism and deceit to sound the climate alarm.

In 1988, a handful of US Senators sent a letter about global warming to the incoming Secretary of State, proposing the country to “take a lead role on this global problem.” Unfortunately, at least till recently, that certainly wasn’t the case. But, fortunately, one of those senators is now the US President. It was one of his priority jobs to sign the long-overdue climate legislation passed by Congress, and promising a historic reduction in emissions. President Biden’s determined policy is a great positive change, and this is sending the rights signals to the world.

It is important to identify the five different types of denial. They are the following:

Science denial

This is the type of denial we are all familiar with: that the science of climate change is not settled. Deniers suggest climate change is just part of the long-term natural cycle. Also, claiming that climate models are unreliable and too sensitive to carbon dioxide. Some even claim that CO₂ is such a small part of the atmosphere that it cannot have a large heating effect. Some even accuse climate scientists for fixing the data to show the climate is changing (a global conspiracy that would take thousands of scientists in over 100 countries to pull off). All these arguments are false and there is a clear consensus among scientists about the causes of climate change. The climate models that predict global temperature rising have remained very similar over the last 30 years, despite the huge increase in complexity, showing it is a robust outcome of the science.

Economic denial

The idea that climate change is too expensive to fix, is a more subtle form of climate denial. Economists, however, claim that we could fix climate change now by spending 1% of world GDP. Perhaps even less, if the savings from improved human health and expansion of the global green economy are taken into account. But, if we don’t act now, by 2050 it could cost us over 20% of world GDP. We should also remember that the world generates about US$ 100 trillion, and every year the global GDP grows by 3.5%. So setting aside just 1% to deal with climate change would make little overall difference and would save the world a huge amount of money. What the climate change deniers also forget to tell us is that they are protecting a fossil fuel industry that receives US$5.2 trillion in annual subsidies – which includes subsidised supply costs, tax breaks and environmental costs. This amounts to 6% of the world GDP.

Humanitarian denial

Some climate change deniers also argue that climate change is good for us. They suggest longer, warmer summers in the temperate zone will make farming more productive. These gains, however, are often offset by the drier summers and increased frequency of heatwaves in those same areas. For example, the 2010 “Moscow” heatwave killed 11,000 people, devastated the Russian wheat harvest and increased global food prices.

The deniers also point out that plants need atmospheric carbon dioxide to grow, so having more of it acts like a fertilizer. This is indeed true and the land biosphere has been absorbing about a quarter of our carbon dioxide pollution every year. Another quarter of our emissions is absorbed by the oceans. But losing massive areas of natural vegetation through deforestation and changes in land use completely nullifies this minor fertilisation effect.

Some climate change deniers will tell you that more people die of the cold than heat, so warmer winters will be a good thing. This is deeply misleading. Vulnerable people die of the cold because of poor housing and not being able to afford to heat their homes. Society, not climate, kills them. This argument is also factually incorrect. In the US, for example, heat-related deaths are four times higher than cold-related ones. This may even be an underestimate as many heat-related deaths are recorded by cause of death such as heart failure, stroke, or respiratory failure - all of which are exacerbated by excessive heat.

Political denial

Climate change deniers argue we cannot take action because other countries are not taking action. But not all countries are equally guilty of causing current climate change. For example, 25% of the human-produced CO₂ in the atmosphere is generated by the US, another 22% is produced by the EU. Africa produces just under 5%. Given the historic legacy of greenhouse gas pollution, developed countries have moral responsibility to lead the way in cutting emissions. But ultimately, all countries need to act because if we want to minimise the effects of climate change then the world must go carbon zero by 2050.


Deniers will also tell you that there are problems to fix closer to home without bothering with global issues. But many of the solutions to climate change are win-win, and will improve the lives of normal people. Switching to renewable energy and electric vehicles, for example, reduces air pollution, which improves people’s overall health.

Developing a green economy provides economic benefits and creates jobs. Improving the environment and reforestation provides protection from extreme weather events, and can in turn improve food and water security.

Crisis denial

The final piece of climate change denial is the argument that we should not rush into changing things, especially given the uncertainty raised by the other four areas of denial listed above. Deniers argue that climate change is not as bad as scientists make out. We will be much richer in the future and better able to fix climate change. They also play on our emotions as many of us don’t like change, and can feel we are living in the best of times – especially if we are richer or in power. But similarly, hollow arguments were used in the past to delay ending slavery, granting the vote to women, ending colonial rule, ending segregation, de-criminalizing homosexuality, bolstering worker’s rights, and environmental regulations, allowing same-sex marriages, and banning smoking.

Global warming with all of its consequences is a serious threat to humanity, and it is caused primarily by our way of living. Unfortunately, though recently decreasing, most of the population still remains insufficiently aware of the threat, as well as of the fact that we have the power to prevent the worsening of the situation and ultimately avoid the catastrophe which is due to happen if the average temperatures are allowed to go above 2 degrees of the last century average.

Though rather painful, in a way, fortunately, the lack of precipitation and high summer temperatures this year are a vivid reminder of what could happen if we remain irresponsible and do so little to address the problem of global warming!

What can be done to make the governments more responsible - and that goes primarily for the US and EU, who together produce 75% of global GHG?

The pressure on governments must come from responsible political leaders and parties, as well as from the general public, and that requires higher awareness of the problem and available solutions. There is obviously also a need to reject more systematically and energetically the false arguments of the deniers and their corporate supporters – pushing shamelessly their vested interests against the public good.

Last but not least, the academic community should also be more active in informing the public of the threat of global warming, supporting the right efforts and government policies, and rejecting more forcefully the manipulated arguments of the deniers, who simply do not care about the public interest and our common future!