Posted by: ericgrimsrud | May 17, 2015

The five stages of Denial Disease

As I explained in a recent post, the Deniers of man-caused global warming are now tending to “deny their denial”.  But this does not mean that they are no longer devoted to the obstruction of preventative action against climate change. Most of them  will simply move along to another stage of denial. All of this is thoroughly explained in a recent article posted at

My own take on  this phenomenon is provided below.

There are apparently five stages of denial – which all share the common goal of obstructing action on climate change.

  • Stage 1: Deny the problem exists
  • Stage 2: Deny we’re the cause
  • Stage 3: Deny it’s a problem
  • Stage 4: Deny we can solve it
  • Stage 5: It’s too late

We have seen lots of evidence of Stage 1 and Stage 2 denial in the last decade – so they do not need to be further explained here.  As evidence for warming continuously grows, however, the arguments behind Stage 1 and 2 have become increasingly childish.  Therefore, Deniers are increasingly denying their former Stage 1 and Stage 2 existences and are now arriving at Stage 3.

Stage 3 denial primarily takes the form of “sure, climate change is happening but its detrimental effects will probably not be great enough to worry about”.  This stage of denial is increasingly favored by Deniers because it does not require a complete denial of the problem and allows the Denier to retain at least a bit of intellectual credibility. Nevertheless, this view as also not supported by valid scientific studies. That is, in scientific terms, a doubling of our CO2 levels from the pre-Industrial Age of 280 ppm to 560 ppm is certain to occur with business-as-usual practices in the mid to latter portions of the current 21st Century. And this doubling is expected to cause an average surface temperature rise of about 3 degrees C which would be sufficient to cause very large and catastrophic changes to our planet. Thus, like State 1, Stage 3 is not actually supported by any real science.  It simply provides the Deniers with a somewhat less embarrassing stance.

As the relentless advance of AGW proceeds even further into the 21st Century, we can expect the Stage 3 Deniers to morph into Stages 4 and then 5.  In doing so, they will finally admit that even their Stage 3 claim is erroneous and that AGW is, indeed, causing great changes to our planet.  At this point, however, they will still not be willing to take forceful action against AGW because, they will first say “the problem cannot be solved” and then “its too late to even try”.  Their reasons for these stances will be the same as always –  claiming that we cannot afford to interfere with the business-as-usual forces that they sold their souls to at the very beginning while in Stage 1.

An obvious question to pose at this point is why would people be so dense, devious, or even evil as to embrace these self-destructive stages of denial?  I will not try to answer that question here because it concerns forces operative within human beings that go well beyond my own level of understanding.  I just know from my own observations that Deniers do sometimes express their “reasons” even if they make sense only to themselves.  Some, for example, have told me that they don’t trust the government – as if there is some better organization in which they can place their trust.  Some say that they have their life savings invested in the continued production of fossil fuels – as if they can “take it with them” at the end of those lives. And some have told me that “God will take care of us” – as if He does not expect us to be good stewards of the gifts He has given us.

Since I consider all such “reasons” to be non-sense, I will simply refer to them here as constituting symptoms of what might be called “Denial Disease”.  Thus my goal in this post is only to list those symptoms and stages so you can recognize an infected person when you are exposed to one.  Perhaps some of you can even envision “cures” for that person much better than I can.  For example, one might inform those afflicted that while the disease itself will not necessarily be passed on to their descendants, its consequences certainly will be. For the good of all living creatures, present and future, we must immediately eliminate this curse to humanity. It is far more dangerous than the ebola virus.

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