Ep. 70: Trump and the Philosophy of Climate Denial


If you’d like to be reminded how President Trump feels about climate change, you need look no further than the United Nations Climate Action Summit in New York this week. That’s where the world’s leaders met to reaffirm their commitments to the Paris Climate agreement and to cutting global emissions.

Trump popped in for all of 14 minutes and barely said a word.

Greta Thurnberg, on the other hand, brought the world to its knees with her speech, calling out world leaders for their inaction. The 16-year-old Swedish activist recently said that she doesn’t think she can convince Trump or other climate change doubters that global warming is real. But she hopes they will take briefings from “actual scientists and experts in this area.”

Trump openly questions climate science. He regularly mocks the idea of climate change, especially when it’s cold outside

He has called climate change a hoax (more than once) and a concept created by the Chinese. He’s certainly made it clear he’s not a believer. 

Trump is an outlier here. Most people around the world do think climate change is real and accept the idea that humans are at least partly responsible. But a survey of 28 countries released this month, found that the United States has the highest proportion of climate deniers: 15% of Americans hold views that contradict the overwhelming scientific consensus on climate change.

So how do you change the minds of climate deniers and people who doubt the scientific process in general?

For this episode, we turn to a philosopher of science who has some ideas.

Lee McIntyre is a Research Fellow at the Center for Philosophy and History of Science at Boston University and a Lecturer in Ethics at Harvard Extension School. He has written books about defending science and fighting back against “alternative facts.”

Now, McIntyre is out on the road talking to flat earth theorists and people who don’t accept current climate science. 

>>Listen to the entire episode below or wherever you get your podcasts.