The blogosphere is permanently rife with conspiracy theories about the power of 'the denial industry' - the coordinated debunking of climate change science by various oil companies, lobbyists, right wing commentators and rogue academics.
The heat levelled at 'deniers' by those who oppose them is intense. Increasingly, 'denial' is characterised as a psychological condition (see Brendan O'Neil's Spiked article 'Pathologising dissent? Now that's Orwellian') and one site even maintains an online 'Hall of Shame'.
But, by and large in the UK at least, it's those who believe in climate change who are much more effective at getting their message across in mainstream media and to policymakers. If you really want hardcore dissent, you have to go looking for it, and the vast majority of people don't bother. So why the apparent public inertia in the face of armageddon?
Here are five reasons to start:
1. All climate change scenarios are based on predictions and we know at some fundamental level that forecasts of the future are made to be confounded, as experienced in other areas of our daily lives where predictions are concerned, such as the weather, share prices and ... errr ... horseracing.
2. These days, climate change debate is as much about politics as science. In Britain at least, the process of politics is often viewed with healthy scepticism. So when politicians start talking about 'hard choices and tough decisions', we get edgy. This is only reinforced when we're faced with rather more immediate hard choices, like redundancy and repossession, and climate change magically drops off the political agenda altogether.
3. Geography lessons. Anyone who sat through secondary school geography lessons during the 1970s and 1980s will remember that you learned more about the Earth's finite resources than you ever did about where things actually are. This is largely the fault of a highly influential book called 'The Limits to Growth' which encouraged a lot of erroneous estimates about when finite natural resources will run out. Combine this with global cooling, the principle of population, the hole in the ozone layer and other environmental catastrophes that were averted or otherwise never came to pass, and you have a whole generation with an inbred indifference to when the eco-boy cries wolf.
4. Less is more when it comes to selling the dangers of inaction in the face of climate change, but some folks can't shake the Chicken Licken reflex. Faced with news like 'The worst-case scenarios on climate change envisaged by the UN two years ago are already being realised' you could perhaps be forgiven for thinking: 'Oh why bother?'
5. Student syndrome. This is the practice of delaying the start of a task until the last possible moment before a deadline. Imagine that on a global scale. Until I'm getting sunburnt while clinging to a church spire so I don't get my feet wet, what's the panic?
In the psychology of motivating people to do things, it's essential to establish: a) the necessity of the thing you're asking people to do; and b) the credibility of those doing the asking. Clearly we haven't quite nailed it just yet, so answers on a postcard (or in comments) please.
(If, however, you are one of the proactive few, then please allow a blatant plug for Climate Change: Bloom's 75 excellent actions to reduce your carbon emissions.)