From climate skeptic to climate cynic

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Whilst we know quite a bit about organized forms of climate skepticism, very few studies focus on how disorganized climate skeptics seek an underdog position to speak truth to power. Hence, we investigate frank speech as updated ancient forms of truth-telling ‘parrhesia’, in two Swedish empirical sources that strongly question the climate change consensus. The first is a digital space for free speech, and the second a focus group of climate skeptics. Tracing ‘epistemic skepticism’ and ‘response skepticism’, we inquire into the attempts to counter scientific expertise and the different ways to refuse to act in accordance with officially sanctioned advice. We analyze the details of climate cynic truth-telling in relation to truth-telling as provocation, as ethical practice and as exhibition of a specific aim. We explore how the climate skeptic turns into a climate cynic, and discuss how alternative truth construction forms an anti-climate ethical selfhood. We end by problematizing how parrhesia is linked to ethical relativism, and argue that the recognition of climate cynicism facilitates our understanding of how conflicting political realities about climate change are produced.


External organisations
  • University of Exeter
  • Uppsala University
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Political Science (excluding Public Administration Studies and Globalization Studies)


  • Climate change, climate skepticism, ethics, subjectivity, the cynics, truth-telling
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)345-365
Number of pages21
JournalCritical Policy Studies
Issue number3
Early online date2018 Jan 29
Publication statusPublished - 2019
Publication categoryResearch