trump election lie

The draw—and deadliness—of American denial

Americans have learned a lot about the concept of denial in recent years.


  • COVID-19 denial, where the horrible facts of a global body count of three million, including an American COVID death toll that's nearly twice the U. S. combat toll from World War II. That fact hasn't impressed some who think the pandemic is a hoax;
  • Vaccine denial, an offshoot of the widespread anti-vaccine movement, runs the risk of the U.S. never achieving herd immunity. Many public health experts consider that the dividing line between COVID-19 being a rare disaster and a permanent one;
  • Mask denial, when a public health essential is outweighed by a perception that mask mandates are a violation of individual rights;
  • Election denial, where a mass delusion championed by former President Trump becomes a national distraction at the worst possible time;
  • Gun denial, now a hardy paranoidal in American politics, pits an outlandishly outsized proportion of U.S. gun deaths compared to the rest of the world—from suicides to mass murders;
  • Insurrection denial, on Wednesday, Congressman Andrew Clyde (R-GA) likened the January 6 Capitol riot to "a normal tourist visit" and his colleague Ralph Norman (R-SC) said he hadn't "seen a poll" proving that Trump supporters were among the rioters;
  • Fake News denial, when all of the above draw skeptical reviews, blame it all on the Mainstream Media.

Climate change denial playbook 

If you follow the science and politics of climate change closely you'll recognize the pattern of motivated reasoning. Against a flood of scientific evidence, deniers have released barrel after barrel of red herrings.

Here are but a few:

  • Sunspots, not increasing CO2, are responsible for rising temperatures and extreme weather;
  • Climate scientists are only in it for the money -- unending torrents of research grants, not to mention the gravy train of fame and glory;
  • Activists have a tool to upend the world order — so do "leftist" politicians and governments.

History repeating itself 

Of course, climate denial itself has many fathers.

Merchants of Doubt is the groundbreaking 2010 book by Naomi Oreskes and Erik Conway. The authors performed political archaeology, tracing climate denial back through its ancestors—often credentialed scientists who deployed specious arguments to deny the impacts of secondhand smoke, ozone-depleting chemicals, and more.

Bottom line: History is repeating itself.

Before our very eyes. Denying the results of a presidential election threatens our democracy. Denying the ways to conquer COVID-19 threatens our health. Denying the ways to combat climate change threatens our future.

Pick your poison.

Peter Dykstra is our weekend editor and columnist and can be reached at pdykstra@ehn.org or @pdykstra.

His views do not necessarily represent those of Environmental Health News, The Daily Climate, or publisher, Environmental Health Sciences.

Banner photo: CT Senate Republicans

From vaccines to elections to climate change, denial is doing lasting damage to the country.

World's largest marine sanctuary  set to expand
www.scubadivermag.com

World's largest marine sanctuary  set to expand

Largest Marine Sanctuary in the World is Set to Expand by 2030 in The Islands of Tahiti
Sunrise in the woods

Get our Good News newsletter

Get the best positive, solutions-oriented stories we've seen on the intersection of our health and environment, FREE every Tuesday in your inbox. Subscribe here today. Keep the change tomorrow.

Study: Marine protected areas’ powerful 'spillover effect' helps fish and fishers
www.union-bulletin.com

Study: Marine protected areas’ powerful 'spillover effect' helps fish and fishers

Scientists have shown for the first time that protecting highly valuable but imperiled tuna in huge marine preserves pays off in the recovery of so many of the migratory fish
Nature Sings: New protest songs for the climate emergency
therevelator.org

Nature Sings: New protest songs for the climate emergency

Listen to new songs addressing the climate crisis by Julian Lennon, Midnight Oil, Laurie Anderson, Brian Eno, The Stop Shopping Choir and many others.
How to vote if you’ve been displaced by hurricanes
therevelator.org

How to vote if you’ve been displaced by hurricanes

There’s still time to find out how to cast your ballot, even if you’re dealing with other recovery efforts.
Op-ed: On climate protests, the media misses the point

Op-ed: On climate protests, the media misses the point

In the face of global inaction, climate change — inextricably linked to health inequities — is leading us toward planetary collapse with a ‘fast track to climate disaster’ and ‘civilization collapse,’ as has been highlighted by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

Keep reading...Show less

Lost rainforest could be revived across 20% of Great Britain

Exclusive: campaigners call for protection and careful tree-planting to help restore the temperate rainforests that once covered swathes of the country.

Told ‘no’ 37 times, this Indigenous-owned company brought electricity to James Bay anyway

Twenty-five years ago, five First Nations brought power to their remote, underserved communities, defying skepticism, scorn and swampy terrain.

From our Newsroom
EPA Michael Regan

EPA's chemical safety rule tests the Biden administration’s commitment to environmental justice

"Cure never happens, prevention never happens in a community where people are sacrificed for others’ gain."

Chemical recycling grows  along with concerns of its impacts

Chemical recycling grows — along with concerns about its environmental impacts

Industry says chemical recycling could solve the plastic waste crisis, but environmental advocates and some lawmakers are skeptical.

Failure of the universities: The culture gap is now near lethal

Universities are failing us

Our educational systems are failing to prepare people for existential environmental threats

Shell's new petrochemical complex in southwestern Pennsylvania

The Titans of Plastic

Pennsylvania becomes the newest sacrifice zone for America’s plastic addiction.

Ruth Greenspan Bell: Wealth and the climate dilemma

Ruth Greenspan Bell: Wealth and the climate dilemma

Developing countries that increase their fossil fuel production are at a crossroads: securing their own long-term well-being or earning revenue to finance programs to support immediate economic growth.

Stay informed: sign up for The Daily Climate newsletter
Top news on climate impacts, solutions, politics, drivers. Delivered to your inbox week days.