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Environmental Values

Is it Arrogant to Deny Climate Change or is it Arrogant to Say it is Arrogant? Understanding Arrogance and Cultivating Humility in Climate Change Discourse and Education

Matt Ferkany

Environmental Values 24 (2015): 705-724. doi: 10.3197/096327115X14420732702572


This paper assesses the charge that climate change denial is arrogant and considers the educational priorities most appropriate to fostering greater humility about the climate change problem. I argue that even denial formed in ignorance of the organised misinformation campaign often constitutes a kind of arrogance, but that it is quite possible to humbly doubt the climate change problem. In some cases denial flows from other more or less serious errors or vices, such as ignorance, sincere but mistaken belief, dishonesty or selfishness. Those who press the arrogance charge also risk being arrogant in doing so. Educators can do a number of things to promote greater humility about climate change, including providing experiences that increase people's appreciation of their individual and general human limitations and improving their ability to distinguish credible from discreditable sources of scientific information and factual from normative dimensions of the climate change problem.


Humility, arrogance, climate change denial, environmental virtue ethics, education.

REFERENCES to other articles in Environmental Values:

'It Helped Me Sort of Face the End of the World': The Role of Emotions for Third Sector Climate Change Engagement Initiatives. Milena Büchs, Emma Hinton and Graham Smith

Forthcoming. 'The implications of psychological limitations of the ethics of climate change'. T.J.Kasperbauer.

CITATIONS in other Environmental Values articles

Editorial: Climate of Arrogance, Disengagement and Injustice Simon Hailwood

Climate Change and the Free Marketplace of Ideas? Matthew Hodgetts, Kevin McGravey

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