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Climate Denial 101: how to completely take down climate change deniers

It's hard to save the planet when not everyone believes in the same cause. A new online course might just change that...

Climate change deniers are among the more than 12,000 people who have signed up for a new free online course in how to combat climate change denial.

Just to be clear, this isn't a condescending course that laughs in the face of climate skeptics. Rather, it answers the frequently asked questions of the masses with an informative attitude.

While it is easy to bombard climate change deniers with an endless stream of scientific evidence that blatantly proves human-driven climate change - over time this has proven ineffective, and at times even counterproductive.

The University of Queensland has created the "Making Sense of Climate Change Denial" course, which more than 12,000 people from 150 countries have signed up for. The course teaches you how to confront climate change deniers more effectively, and also covers the psychological and social drivers behind this denial. It has a 7-week curriculum which started on April 28th this year.

It delves into the insights of the most pervasive climate change denial myths and underlying techniques that anti-science perpetrators most frequently use.

“Once people understand the techniques used to distort the science, they can reconcile the myth with the fact.”
- John Cook, creator if Skeptical Science

With 97% of climate scientists concluding that humans are the root cause of global warming, there is little controversy in the scientific community – the challenge is convincing those outside of it.

The course, also referred to as "Denial101x" has interviews with 75 researchers from the US, Canada, Australia and the UK, and includes big names like Sir David Attenborough.

The course coordinator, John Cook, says you can't adequately address the issue of climate change denial without "considering the root cause: personal beliefs and ideology driving the rejection of scientific evidence."

According to Cook, the answer can be found in a branch of psychology called "inoculation theory" – misinformation created through myth. By making his course an online one, Cook and his associates hope to reach thousands of people, rather than just their students.

“[The course] is important because we’re providing an understanding of how misinformation works, why it’s wrong, and thereby, we hope, helping people to spot it and ward it off.”
- Dan Bedford, Geography professor, Weber State University, Utah

Some of the common myths dispelled by the course include the "long pause" argument: there hasn't been any warming since 1998; that global warming is caused by the sun; and that climate impacts won't be a 'big deal', and possibly even beneficial. It also briefly investigates models that predict future impacts.

“People have a right to be accurately informed… And if the public is being misinformed by people who deny climate science, that has social and environmental consequences.”
- John Cook

The education of climate science is immeasurably important to how the human race will move forward. It seems ridiculous that there are many people in denial of the facts, but courses like these don't aim to be righteous or condescending, they simply inform through a clear demonstration of scientific evidence.

As members of the community attempting to rectify the impacts of climate change, it is our job to educate and inform our friends and family about the current and oncoming consequences of our actions. The educational approach is the right approach, and we hope that this course can change a few minds!

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