The Best of Denial101x – Week 1

The latest brainchild of John Cook is the free online edX course Denial 101x. This course, tackling basic climate science as well as the science of climate change denial, had amassed 15,000 students as of May 12.

You can access the video lectures and interviews on their YouTube channel without even signing up for the course. The best video content, in my opinion, is the full interviews with scientists. They are such interesting people with so many stories to tell, and the conversational style of the interviews makes the quality of communication absolutely top-notch. I like to listen to these interviews while I wash the dishes (our apartment has been extra clean recently thanks to John Cook).

Here are my favourites from Week 1 alone (there are multiple hours of interviews released each week, it’s kind of overwhelming):

  1. Naomi Oreskes, who is such a strong and smart and feisty person – I want to be just like her. “My husband always says that when [climate change deniers] started attacking me, they really didn’t know what they were up against.”

  2. Katharine Hayhoe, who brings a new perspective I haven’t really thought about much: how to reach people of faith. “I received so much support from colleagues who say, ‘I do not share your faith or don’t even understand your faith, but I support what you’re doing.'”

  3. Michael Mann, who has probably been through more than anyone else in this community, but has nonetheless kept an incredibly positive attitude. “What I’m concerned about, more concerned about, is the fact that there are now many younger scientists out there who are doing research on climate change, and when they publish a paper that gets a lot of attention, they are finding themselves subject to these orchestrated attacks. In many cases, they’re just graduate students. They have absolutely no experience in dealing with this sort of issue.”

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10 thoughts on “The Best of Denial101x – Week 1

  1. Don’t waste your time on Denial 101x.

    “Don’t Even Think About It: Why Our Brains Are Wired to Ignore Climate Change”:

    I don’t have to take Denial 101x to know that it will be a waste of my time; it’s just another example of the choir preaching to the choir. Denial 101x needs no climate scientists but knowledgable climate psychologists. The issue is not whether people agree or disagree that Climate Change exists, but whether those who agree are willing to do anything. Denial 101x will be successful when it convinces those who agree to act. was formed after knowledgable scientists determined that exceeding 350 ppm CO2 in the atmosphere would be catastrophic. Today atmospheric CO2 is beyond 400 ppm and agreers are still frantically screaming, “The Sky Is Falling!” but doing little about it.

    When it comes to Climate Change and its impending disasters, we are agreers. But we don’t like informed people like scientists and politicians telling us what to do about that which we agree. Don’t believe me? Check here:

    Fact is, it matters little whether we agree or disagree about Climate Change, but whether we are willing do anything when we agree. The overwhelming consensus is that we are not willing do anything when we agree! Suppose you had heard that major sources of Climate Change are air and ground travel and that both must be reduced by 90 percent. What would you do? Most likely nothing. At this instant you are being informed that air and ground travel are major sources of Climate Change, and you must reduce your air and ground travel by 90% starting now. Do you agree or disagree that air and ground travel are major sources of Climate Change? If you agree, are you going to reduce your air and ground travel by 90% starting today? If not, why not?

    Watch the video at this link and others like it to understand why Denial 101x is a waste of money and time and why you will not reduce your air and ground travel one iota, and why you will most likely increase your air and ground travel because the current cost of Climate-Changing fossil fuels is ridiculously low. Denial 101x will be effective when it convinces agreers to do the right thing. Denial 101x will be effective when it replaces knowledgable climate scientists with knowledgable climate psychologists.

    According to the video in the above link, the problem is that Climate Change causes no P.A.I.N. for all us agreers who could make a difference right now. P.A.I.N. equates to Personal. Abrupt. Immoral. Now. For us agreers who could make a difference right now, Climate Change is not our problem but a problem for future generations, for a time when we’ll be tucked safely away beneath our tombstones. We agreers have more important issues to be concerned about right now, about how we are going to survive until the day when we are tucked safely away beneath our tombstones.

  2. Roger, the Denial101x MOOC takes an evidence-based approach which means we heed the social science research into how to encourage climate action. What that research tells us is misconceptions and misinformation inhibit public support for climate policies. For example, when people don’t realise there is overwhelming scientific consensus about human-caused global warming, they’re less likely to support mitigation policies. So Denial101x removes just one of the roadblocks slowing down climate action.

    It’s not the only roadblock. One of my week 1 lectures, Dragons of Inaction, looks at many of the psychological barriers preventing concern about climate change. But we mustn’t fall into the false dichotomy of arguing that there is only one way to achieve climate action, and hence all other contributions are a waste of time and money. Climate change is a huge, complicated societal issue that needs to be fought on many fronts. Denial101x addresses one of those fronts, albeit an important one based on the social science research. I touch on that research in week 1 and week 6 (we’re currently in week 3).

    Kate, thanks for your blog post. Glad to hear your kitchen is so clean! Fittingly, I’ve been editing the interviews while washing the dishes! Which isn’t the most efficient method, I keep having to stop and dry my hands whenever I encounter a moment that needs editing. But mindless chores are perfect for this kind of thing.

  3. Let us all pause a minute to read This book is free, so there is no excuse for not reading it. “Okay – it’s agreed; we announce – ‘to do nothing is not an option!’ then we wait and see how things pan out…”

    Before I get started, let’s put proportion into perspective. Which is bigger, a Gt or a Pg? Who knows and who cares? Climate Scientists throw around Gt’s like us little people throw around pounds and kilograms. Why not use Pg’s, because then even fewer of us will have a clue what 400 Pg’s are as compared to 400 Gt’s? Scientists love scaring people with things like Gt’s. Check out some of them here: Especially the 273,000,000,000 liters of fossil fuel consumed by aircraft each year. How many pounds or kilograms, not Gt’s or Pg’s, of CO2 in the atmosphere does burning all that fossil fuel equate to? What if that much CO2 had landed on your toe? Would it hurt? What if it had landed on your house? Would it fall down? What if it had landed on South Bend, Indiana? Would the folks there have an even a harder time breathing than they already do?

    According to David JC MacKay on page 37 of the above book, “One kilowatt-hour per day is roughly the power you could get from one human servant. The number of kilowatt-hours per day you use is thus the effective number of servants you have working for you.” David typically uses kWh/d per person to describe our daily energy consumption rate. He also carefully explains what kWh/d is and provides numerous examples to give us a better feel for exactly what a kWh/d is.

    In the above book, David does many brain dumps. In one example he figures if you drive a moderately fuel-efficient car 30 miles per day, your car will consume about 40kWh/d, the equivalent of 40 servants. Likewise if you make one 8800 mile trip per year on a Boeing 747-400 with an 80% passenger load you will have consumed about 30kWh/d. That is per day for the entire year, not per year. In essence your share of that single flight that year will have consumed about 10,950 kWh. What if you made 10 or 100 such flights? That adds up to a lot of 100-watt light bulbs left burning 24 hours a day all year long.

    Now there are some accomplishments we generally pay little attention to, but I must say that Tom Stuker and the airlines are Proud-as-Hell of his accomplishments.

    Tom Stuker Flew Over 1 Million Miles This Year – Why? (That was in 2012) Prior to Tom Stuker’s 2012 accomplishment, in July 2011 Tom Stuker became the first frequent flyer to log over ten million air miles!

    Let us assume that Tom Stuker has averaged about 1 Million Frequent-Flyer Miles per year and see what his contribution to mitigating Climate Change has been. A little math shows us that (1,000,000/8,800)*30 = 3,409 kWh/d for the entire year! What an accomplishment Tom! That equates to 3,409 servants working for you year-round.

    Roughly how many people did it take to build a large Egyptian Pyramid? One estimate is that 6,700 workers toiled 20 years to quarry the stone and assemble one large Pyramid. Based on that estimate, twenty years of Tom-Stuker joyrides would equate to about half an Egyptian Pyramid! But there is one big difference! Pyramids were built on renewable and clean energy, but Tom Stuker’s joyrides were accomplished with Green-House-Gas-Belching fossil fuels.

    I’ll leave it to the Climate Scientists who circle the globe many times over, spreading their Climate Change gospels, to figure out how many Pg’s or kilograms of Green-House Gas Tom-Stuker’s joyrides have spewed into our delicate atmosphere. And maybe we can imagine how many tens or hundreds of thousands of frequent-flyers are out there vying to beat Tom Stucker’s unbelievable frequent-flyer accomplishments.

    Is there or is there not overwhelming scientific consensus that frequent-flyers contribute to global warming, and if there is, what are agreers doing to support mitigation policies? It is obvious that nearly 100% of Climate Scientists are agreers, but how many are doing anything to mitigate Climate Change? “Okay – it’s agreed; we announce – ‘to do nothing is not an option!’ then we wait and see how things pan out…” Waiting to see is not enough.

    Millions of people travel the world over to attend untold numbers of conferences and seminars that could have been accomplished by Teleconference or Teleseminar If agreers really wanted to support mitigation policies, they would forego the pleasures of free vacations or holidays while attending conferences and seminars around the world at the expense of Climate Change. They would accomplish the same through much less expensive Teleconference or Teleseminar.

    If agreers don’t take the first steps, who will?

  4. @John Cook
    “…looks at many of the psychological barriers preventing concern about climate change.”

    Doesn’t this paint the Deniers as having psychological problems? None of them will be open to our argument if we start with that premise.


  5. Remember “Drive 55?” (mph means miles per hour, and 1 mph = 1.61 kph.) Back then the speed limit in some western states was “Reasonable and Proper,” which usually meant anything you could get away with. Here are the posted state speed limits in the United States as of 2014:

    Speed Kills Your Pocketbook and Polar Bears.

    I own three Prii My wife and I drive one, our son drives one, and our daughter drives one. (The cars are in different localities, so sharing one vehicle is not an option.)

    I drive 55 mph or less, whether others around me like it or not. All Prii have mile-per-gallon indicators and energy monitor calculators and displays. Most Prii have trip statistic software and displays, so you can know at all times how your driving choices affect your car’s performance. Driving our Prius 55 mph or less allows us to regularly achieve up to 60 miles per gallon of gasoline.

    According to this website if the national speed limit were set to 55 mph it would save 1 billion barrels of oil per year. And I say, if the existing state speed limits were enforced it would save another one or two billion barrels of oil per year.

    Under “Other applications” the above website states that airlines are decreasing their speeds by 10 mph to save money. No mention is made of reducing greenhouse gasses. Their emphasis is “Speed Kills MPG.” No mention is made of “Speed Kills Polar Bears and People.”

    Here are some other ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions:

    Together we climate-change-agreers can do our part. Are we climate-change-agreers by voice only, or are we making real efforts to save the one environment that we all must survive in?

    • The US uses about 19 million barrels per day, so saying that a 55 mph speed limit would reduce oil usage by 1/6 is hard to believe.

      On top of that, having high speed limits on highways encourages people to drive on the highway rather than a local road which is even slower, though it might add distance to the trip. It is much safer to be driving on highways than local roads.

  6. @Patrick

    “Doesn’t this paint the Deniers as having psychological problems?”

    Yes it does. It paints all of us as having psychological problems when it comes to treating Climate Change as a Colossal Disaster Happening Right Now. Climate Change is not like “Day After Tomorrow” but much worse. It’s Stealth.

    Read the book, “Don’t Even Think About It: Why Our Brains are Wired to Ignore Climate Change” by George Marshall.

    See Chapter 2, “We’ll Deal with That Lofty Stuff Some Other Day” or “Why Disaster Victims Do Not Want to Talk About Climate Change.”

    This also equates to “Why None of my Relatives or Associates Want to Hear Any Mention of Climate Change; Don’t Even Think About It.” Our brains are wired to ignore Climate Change. If the threat of Climate Change terrified us as much as the threat of Tornados or Typhoons or Earth Quakes we would not ignore it. But thinking about mitigating Climate Change that will never happen to us means only discomfort and sacrifice, even though we have been warned that our grandchildren and distant generations will suffer severely. But we won’t suffer, and what could we do about it anyway? So “Don’t Even Think About It.”

    If that isn’t psychological problems, then what is? Psychological problems doesn’t mean we are mentally imbalanced or crazy, only that “Our Brains are Wired to Ignore Climate Change.” Whether we are Deniers or Agreers, nearly all of us still Ignore the Perils of Eminent Climate Change. That’s because “Our Brains are Wired to Ignore Climate Change.”

    So why is the world doing little about Climate Change, except talk, talk, talk? Because “Our Brains are Wired to Ignore Climate Change.”

    What’s the difference? 97% of Climate Scientists say Climate Change Disaster is real and requires immediate sacrifices, but few are doing anything. 95% of scientists say man evolved, but the majority of us believe in one form or another of creationism. Why? Because our brains are wired to believe in the supernatural, be that monsters, ghosts, or gods. It’s difficult for someone like me, who believes in nothing supernatural, to understand how rational brains function. In a US poll taken some years ago, 20% of respondents said that man was created and evolved. I can imagine a similar percentage of respondents saying that Climate Change is real and imaginary.

    Yes, when it comes to imagining that the ground we walk on is not flat, but one huge ball, we all have some psychological problems to overcome.

  7. Kate…not really relevant to this post, but is it possible to see some of your older posts, or are you running out of room on your server? I would especially like to see your collection of quotes.

    • They are all still there (keep hitting “older posts”, or Google “climatesight” + whatever you’re looking for), I just don’t really add to the quote or image collection anymore and therefore removed the links from the header. But you can access the quotes here:
      I use the WordPress servers, not my own servers, and they have more or less unlimited space :-)

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