"Why People Still Fall For Fake News About Climate Change"

"It was the hottest year on Earth in 125,000 years, and #climatescam is taking off."

"In 1995, a leading group of scientists convened by the United Nations declared that they had detected a “human influence” on global temperatures with “effectively irreversible” consequences. In the coming decades, 99.9 percent of scientists would come to agree that burning fossil fuels had disrupted the Earth’s climate.

Yet almost 30 years after that warning, during the hottest year on Earth in 125,000 years, people are still arguing that the science is unreliable, or that the threat is real but we shouldn’t do anything about climate change. Conspiracies are thriving online, according to a report by the coalition Climate Action Against Disinformation released last month, in time for the U.N. climate conference in Dubai. Over the past year, posts with the hashtag #climatescam have gotten more likes and retweets on the platform known as X than ones with #climatecrisis or #climateemergency.

By now, anyone looking out the window can see flowers blooming earlier and lakes freezing later. Why, after all this time, do 15 percent of Americans fall for the lie that global warming isn’t happening? And is there anything that can be done to bring them around to reality? New research suggests that understanding why fake news is compelling to people can tell us something about how to defend ourselves against it.

People buy into bad information for different reasons, said Andy Norman, an author and philosopher who co-founded the Mental Immunity Project, which aims to protect people from manipulative information."

Kate Yoder reports for Grist December 18, 2023.

Source: Grist, 12/19/2023