Before I get into this: Climate change is a real thing. That's not what I want to talk about in this post, but I don't want to leave it ambiguous. My position is that humans have caused global climate change, that's a bad thing, and people who disagree are definitely wrong. But what I really want to talk about is the politics surrounding it, and what it says about conspiracy theories.
Normally, I tend to be very skeptical towards conspiracy theories -- more often than not, it seems the evidence available makes the most sense if you assume that everyone involved pretty much means what they say they mean and wants what they say they want. Massive, systemic attempts to complete a task with an ulterior motive seem generally too unwieldy to be realistic.
But when it comes to the climate change issue, you sort of have to be a conspiracy theorist.
I can only see three sensible options to account for the existence of the debate over climate change: either (a.) you believe that conservative politicians, in the pockets of lobbyists, are arguing against climate change to protect American business interests at the cost of the Earth's future, (b.) you believe that the entire institution of science is conspiring to falsify data in order to invent an environmental crisis for some reason, or (c.) I guess you believe that the media is falsifying a massive controversy or something while everyone in the real congress gets on with their lives.
There's no option that doesn't include some massive group of people being dishonest about their motives and generally being kind of super-villainy.
It's a weird distance from the usual scenario, where the conspiracy theory is juxtaposed against a bunch of people being totally honest. Did the government lie about the moon landing, or did NASA actually do everything they said they did? Was 9/11 an inside job, or is Al Quaeda actually the terrorist organization they said they were? The answers are obvious: the ones that involve no major organizations conspiring together to make something pointlessly up.
I guess the take-away lesson from this is, while skepticism is good when it comes to conspiracy theories, sometimes conspiracies do happen, and when it comes to conspiracies, there's a meaningful line between skepticism and denialism.