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School of Environment and Natural Resources


How Climate Change became Controversial

Mar 4, 2016, 12:30pm - 1:45pm
248 Townsend Hall

The OSU Department of Sociology presents guest speaker Professor Riley E. Dunlap, who will present How Climate Change became Controversial in  248 Townshend Hall.

Global warming was recognized as a problem by the early 1990s, but a long-term and ever-evolving campaign to deny its reality and significance has turned contemporary anthropogenic climate change into a major controversy.  The basic findings of climate science are constantly challenged by a growing set of interconnected actors who portray climate change as uncertain, even a hoax, leading significant segments of the public and numerous policy-makers to dismiss its importance—and thus the need to take action to reduce carbon emissions.  Key actors in what has been termed the “denial counter-movement,” the economic and ideological interests motivating them, and the primary strategies and tactics they employ will be outlined, drawing on a growing body of social science research. Finally, a brief assessment of the wide-ranging impacts of climate change denial, including the obstruction of USA and international policy-making, will be given.

Riley E. Dunlap is Regents Professor and Laurence L. and Georgia Ina Dresser Professor in the Department of Sociology at Oklahoma State University. He chaired the American Sociological Association’s Task Force on Sociology and Global Climate Change, and is senior editor of the resulting volume: Society and Climate Change: Sociological Perspectives (Oxford University Press, 2015).  His prior books include the Handbook of Environmental Sociology (Greenwood Press, 2002) and Sociological Theory and the Environment (Rowman-Littlefield 2002), both of which he co-edited.