By ideological denial we refer to the rejection of an urgent need to address and reconsider the ideas driving both human-induced global warming and the solutions implemented to fight it.
Ideological denial is related to what has been called implicatory denial. According to Cohen (2001), there are three states of denial: literal (sheer refusal to accept evidence), interpretative (denial based on the interpretation of evidence) and implicatory (denial based on the change/response that acceptance would necessitate). With implicatory denial, what is denied or minimized are “the psychological, political, or moral implications that conventionally follow” (Cohen 2001:8 in Noorgard, 2006: 374).
Ideological denial prevents us from addressing the unethical mindset that produces greenhouse emissions and failed solutions. It is therefore related to the fields of environmental ethics and sociology. Regarding environmental ethics, this project addresses the anthropocentric perspective at the core of the narrative followed by polluters, policymakers and many advocates against global warming (Kemmerer, 2015). Regarding environmental sociology, we are aligned with Noorgard’s conclusions that, despite having sufficient information, the standard human behaviour is to avoid thinking about global warming “at least in part because doing so [raises] fears of ontological insecurity, emotions of helplessness and guilt, and [is] a threat to individual and collective senses of identity” (2006: 392).
In one of the publications of this project, we provide a reflection on this concept of ideological denialism. In the chapter entitled "Rethinking the ethical challenge in climate change lobbying. A discussion of ideological denial", the author Núria Almiron discusses the functioning of ideological denialism and how it feeds the arguments of interest groups against climate action. The text is available in open access.
Almiron, Núria. 2020. “Rethinking the Ethical Challenge in Climate Change Lobbying. A Discussion of Ideological Denial.” In Climate Change Denial and Public Relations, edited by Núria Almiron and Jordi Xifra, 9–25. Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge.
Cohen, Stanley. 2001. States of Denial: Knowing about Atrocities and Suffering. Cambridge, UK: Polity Press.
Kemmerer, Lisa. 2015. Eating Earth. Environmental Ethics and Dietary Choice. New York: Oxford University Press.
Norgaard, Kari Marie. 2006. “People want to protect themselves a little bit”: Emotions, denial, and social movement nonparticipation. Sociological Inquiry, 76(3), 372–396.