The Politicization of Climate Science by Ben Perlmutter


As it becomes clear beyond a reasonable doubt that human activity is causing global climate change with severe implications for our planet, there nonetheless remain many powerful deniers to this scientific truth.

The Republican Party leads the climate denial movement in the United States. The Republicans, supported by the fossil fuel industry, are able to propagate denial because of a phenomenon known as the politicization of science.

Ben Perlmutter reports on the politicization of climate science for Emory News Now.


AUDIO CLIP, Sen. Ted Cruz:

“the global warming alarmists are the equivalent of the flat-Earthers.”



Those are not the words of some crazy on street corner, but those of Senator and Republican presidential hopeful Ted Cruz.

Cruz and Fellow Republicans, are able to spread bunk claims like this because they “politicize climate science.”

Georgia State professor Toby Bolsen explains in a phone interview:


ACTUALITY, Dr. Toby Bolsen

“Politicization occurs when an actor emphasizes the inherent uncertainly in science by casting doubt on the existence of a scientific consensus.”



Actors, for their self interested reasons, spread doubt to science while there is little to no doubt within the scientific community.

Dr. Bolsen elaborates:


ACTUALITY, Dr. Toby Bolsen

“When elites do this, when politicization enters the picture, people can’t reason. They can’t know whether or not to trust scientific evidence in particular cases.”



Emory University environmental scientist Woody Hickcox explained that climate science is particularly susceptible to politicization because it is so complicated — it requires the contributions of many disciplines, from biology, to astrophysics, to oceanography. There are many points at which politicization can occur.

Powerful interests in the fossil fuel industry have been the main funders of climate denial research. ExxonMobile, the world’s largest oil company, and the Koch Brothers, owners of the petrochemical giant Koch Industries, have been the largest funders of climate denial research.

They stand the most to lose from taking action on climate change, as their products, fossil fuels, produce greenhouse gasses, which in turn cause climate change.

By politicizing climate science to create the public perception of doubt, fossil fuel companies stop the public from coming to the consensus that climate change is occurring and needs to be addressed.

And, Republicans have joined in link step with the fossil fuel industry, as that’s where the money is. In the 2014 national elections, the Koch Brothers spent over $290 million.

College senior Claire Carter thinks about the politicization of climate science:


ACTUALITY, Claire Carter

“I think its ridiculous and has become too politicized and is following the money rather than the science.”



Ben Perlmutter Emory News Now

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