Despite overwhelming scientific evidence to the contrary, some American politicians continue to deny that climate change exists, while others question the severity of its impact. And among the general public, climate change denial is higher in the U.S. today than almost anywhere else in the world.
This is largely the result of the oil and gas industry’s financial interests colliding with a powerful libertarian strain in U.S. politics. Fossil fuel companies, hoping to prolong the world’s reliance on their products, have made common cause with conservative and libertarian think tanks that promote free market economics, and therefore oppose fossil fuel regulation on ideological grounds.
People protest against ExxonMobil before the start of its trial outside the New York State Supreme Court building on October 22, 2019
This combination of money and deep-seated ideology has helped prevent the U.S. from taking bolder climate action for decades. But public opinion is shifting, and today even oil and gas companies publicly admit that climate change is a serious problem.
So as the public and corporations change, what does the climate denial landscape look like today? Who exactly still funds this movement? And why is denial mainly a U.S. problem?