Climate Science Denialism and its populist Analogs

NASA. Public domain
Image credit: NASA. Public domain


One of the most notable achievements associated with Enlightenment is the codification and institutionalisation of scientific method, even if, in practice the relationship between Enlightenment and scientific rationality is now understood to be more complex than encompassed in early accounts of Enlightenment. Contemporary attacks on climate science by the right represent an attack on these traditions, and add new layers of complexity to them. At heart, such attacks involve a turning away from expert knowledge, regarded as ‘elite’ and therefore debased, to a more populist understanding of science based in the primacy of individual observation and felt experience, consistent with a long history of skepticism about the origins and motives of scientific knowledge. Such attacks are consistent, too, with the close commercial, ideological and political alignments between the energy industry and reactionary populist political leaders in an era of deindustrialisation, economic disenfranchisement and precarity, when scientific-technocratic approaches to government are deemed to have failed.


Dr Mark Davis (University of Melbourne)

Themes related to this project