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"Will Climate Change Denial Inherit the Wind?"

Center for the Study of Social Movements

NCSE's Josh Rosenau contributed "Will Climate Change Denial Inherit the Wind?" to Mobilizing Ideas, the blog of the Center for the Study of Social Movements at the University of Notre Dame. "The persistence of the creationist movement is a remarkable example of the power of social movements, and provides a valuable lesson for students of other anti-science movements," he argued. After reviewing the strategies that have enabled creationism to flourish, he suggested, "A similar dynamic may be forming around the science of climate change as well, and social movement theory will play a key role in understanding that battle — and perhaps in sparing climate science from being doomed, like evolution, to be used as a shibboleth for political factions."

"Just as the creationist movement's persistence grew out of its success in linking religious identity with creationist belief, there is a danger that climate change denial could establish itself as a permanent feature of American politics if denialist beliefs establish themselves as core parts of the conservative identity," Rosenau observed, citing the shifts with regard to climate change of nationally prominent Republican politicians through the dozen years of the twenty-first century. But there are, he added, encouraging signs that "the climate change denial movement may not be able to fully merge with movement conservatism, averting the danger that climate change denial would join creationism as a permanent feature of the American sociopolitical landscape."