Consensus and contrarianism on climate change: How the USA case informs dynamics elsewhere

Maxwell Boykoff


Against a contrasting backdrop of consensus on key issues on climate science, a heterogeneous group dubbed climate «skeptics», «contrarians», «deniers» have significantly shaped contemporary discussions of climate science, politics and policy in the public sphere. This essay focuses on the USA context, and explores some of the intertwined social, political and economic factors, as well as cultural and psychological characteristics that have together influenced public attitudes, intentions, beliefs, perspective and behaviors in regards to climate change science and governance over time. This article makes the case that the USA example can inform developments elsewhere; as such it is important to consider these contextual elements to more capably appraise «contrarian», «skeptic», «denier» reverberations through the current public discussions on climate change. 


consensus; skepticism; contrarianism; climate change; public opinion

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