This article explains how US climate denial has become so strong:
While exposing political/ideological causes of denial and repression of scientific information in schools, however, I think it presents a misguided understanding of the relationship between US ideologies and the possibility of climate/sustainability action more generally when it says,
“There is also the issue of American individualism, remnants of manifest destiny, that don’t set us up well for understanding that we are part of the web of life. The American dream is quite self-involved. We need a new American dream.”
Individualism could actually inspire personal action to achieve sustainability and climate reform rooted in personal liberty IF individuals would make the right choice. The fact is that many aren't because they either
1) have been steered by media and/or other social-pressures to relinquish independent individual thought in favor of social conformity to climate denial and/or prioritizing economic concerns over environmental ones, which is in itself a form of subjugating independent judgment to economic interests/bias.
2) fundamentally misunderstand the concept of liberty as validating the shirking of voluntary social/environmental responsibility. In reality, the premise of self-governance of free people by themselves, which is the principal of liberty within a republic, was based on the assumption that regular people could be as reasonable, wise, and independent as any governmental authority. So the assumption is that anything achievable by government can be achieved by free people, provided they honor the responsibilities that come with liberty.
Manifest Destiny has been demonized for justifying westward expansion that ultimately undermined the life, liberty, and happiness of free people living in those territories. While that critique is legitimate, the roots of manifest destiny in the aftermath of the Louisiana Purchase should remind us that US Americans couldn't simply wander freely into French territory until Jefferson took a huge, high-interest loan from a British bank, which saddled the US with debt. In that sense, the US lost its economic liberty by taking on the Louisiana Purchase debt, which benefited its European creditors.
The US should not have colonized and exploited the west and otherwise abused and exploited people and resources for economic reasons, but neither should Europe have been practicing colonialism to push the US in that direction.
In terms of climate-sustainability reforms, the concept of Manifest Destiny could just as easily be applied to the task of achieving permanently sustainable economic practices that end environmental and social exploitation as part of industrial economic practices.
The American Dream:
We do not need 'a new American Dream." What we need is to remember that the American Dream precedes the industrial revolution and that it is about liberty and self-governance, not the freedom to abuse and exploit resources and other human beings. Climate reform and sustainability could be achieved more effectively within the paradigm of individual liberty and the American Dream than within any other paradigm IF the paradigm was not subtly subverted by its misinterpretation in terms of getting rich, reaping spoils of industrial consumerism, or any other narrow vision of what it means to achieve prosperity as free, self-governing people with the freedom to dream/envision a truly good and sustainable world where everyone's pursuit of life, liberty, and happiness are equally respected and honored.
THE DARKER SIDE OF CLIMATE DENIAL
Another form of climate denial, which is actually darker and more sinister than the popular denial among many US people, is what happens when governments ostensibly commit to reforms through nominal agreements like that signed in Paris, but then quietly defy the goals of the agreement and turn it into nothing more than a mechanism for levying taxes/fines and thus stimulating more of the unsustainable economic activity it claims to regulate.
Throughout the world there are people capable of analyzing their position within structures of governance and economic patterns and they calculate what effects regulations will have on their businesses and lifestyles and adjust them in ways that escape regulation. Until real, effective choices are made to forego unsustainable economic practices and restore/reforest land whose soil and living organisms have been killed and replaced with human architecture, people will simply treat agreements like the Paris accord and other green regulations as part of a maze to maintaining the architectures and lifestyles that are not yet reformed.
In short, the demand for climate-unsustainable economics will not subside among people who ostensibly acknowledge climate-unsustainability; and that is the real denial.