Climate Solutions Misinformation: The Future of Climate Denial
A study in Nature Scientific Reports found that even after a year of extreme weather and dire predictions about Earth's future, climate denial is still on the rise. But tactics have changed -- instead of undermining science, conservative think tanks have turned to undermining climate scientists, activists, and politicians alongside their policies.
Why This Matters
This report shows that because only 10% of arguments from North American conservative think tanks question scientific models, data, or consensus around climate change, those fighting climate change need to change their strategies to suit a new wave of climate denial. Attention should instead be turned towards convincing deniers that climate solutions, like carbon taxes or increased use of renewable energy, are integral to our survival.
"Pre-Bunking" Climate Solutions
Typically, those who attack climate solutions argue that their short-term drawbacks outweigh their potential to avert the earth's destruction. For example, a common argument is that climate policies will hurt the economy, ignoring that climate change could cost the US 10.5 % of its GDP in the long term.
Fighting this type of misinformation requires predicting when these arguments tend to pop up. The study found that during climate conferences or congressional debates about climate legislation, conservative think tanks generate more misinformation about climate solutions. This pattern could make it easier for organizers and politicians to "pre-bunk" misguided arguments about climate change.
John Cook, a co-author of the study and a research fellow at the Climate Change Communication Research Hub at Monash University in Australia told Grist: "If we're proactive enough, we can get ahead of it and inoculate the public.