I have long held the theory that every conservative knows and believes that climate change is real; not only that, they know that climate change is driven, to a variable extent, by human activity.
So, why do they claim otherwise?
Because scientists, back in the early days of climate research on the topic (think late 80’s early 90’s) didn’t just warn the public about climate change. They went one step further: without being asked, they started to recommend government policies to fight climate change.
Scientists are not economists or politicians. The solutions they recommended were the simplest, straightforward ones. What they didn’t recognize that the simplest, most straightforward solutions lived in a political minefield, because they fell into the category of “big government” “heavy regulation” “economic control”.
So, the right mobilized and decided to put up the barricades at the point of contact, which was the science, rather than debate the solutions. The concern was that the political left would use the science to justify bigger intrusions of the government into the economy.
I think that strategy ill-advised, but I understand why they did it.