COVID-19, Climate Change and ‘The Denial Playbook’: on the Rhetoricality of Science Denial in the COVID-climate Analogy

COVID-19 through the Prism of Rhetorical and Discourse Research

Veena Namboodri

Department of Humanities, Michigan Technological University, USA


Abstract: The current article examines the discourses articulating the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic crisis through the rhetorical strategy of the covid-climate analogy. This analogy establishes a resemblance of structural relations between the two crises through the shared centrality of science denialism. By representing climate change as an analogous crisis of a longer time frame that functions as a cautionary tale, it emphasizes the rhetorical kairos noting the contextual factors through which the communicative challenges and failures of the pandemic can be better understood and potentially countered. The author notes the rhetoricality of science denialism in the covid-climate analogy as understood through the argumentative scheme of the ‘denial playbook’, a context-specific thematic thread, that may be interpreted as a conventional(ized) topos of denial. The topos of denial is utilized as a topical inventive strategy in discourses articulating and (re)framing the crisis(/es) that clarifies the common suasive strategies of climate denialism and COVIDenialism useful for further inquiry into the communicative dimensions of the complex and intersecting social, political, and ecological crises of our times.

Keywords: COVID-19, pandemic crisis, rhetorical strategy, rhetoricality, COVID-climate analogy.

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