Climate misinformation explodes on Twitter


Lies about local weather change on Twitter escalated to unprecedented ranges this yr, in response to new analyses. The unnerving rise of content material that rejects extensively accepted local weather science — generally known as local weather skepticism or local weather denial — piles on prime of rising issues about misinformation and hateful content material that’s proliferated since Elon Musk’s takeover of the social media platform.

There have been extra tweets and retweets “using climate-sceptic terminology” in 2022 than in another yr since Twitter’s founding in 2006, in response to evaluation carried out for The Times by City, University of London researchers. That’s 850,000 climate-skeptic tweets or retweets this yr in comparison with 650,000 in 2021 and 220,000 in 2020. 

“Climate denial on Twitter was already a dumpster fire; now, it’s as if it had a litre of gas thrown on it,” Hayhoe stated to The Times

“Climate denial on Twitter was already a dumpster fire; now, it’s as if it had a litre of gas thrown on it.”

Much of the latest rise in local weather misinformation could be tied to a single hashtag: “#climatescam.” It makes up round 40 % of tweets this yr containing climate-skeptic language, City, University of London researchers Max Falkenberg and Andrea Baronchelli discovered. That’s in comparison with simply 2 % earlier than this yr 2022.

Now, “#climatescam” seems as a prime consequence when trying to find “#climate” on Twitter. The hashtag gives up a buffet of false details about local weather change. One fashionable put up contains a picture that defines “manmade climate change” as “the made up catastrophe the globalists/socialists use to [instill] fear and guilt to tax, regulate, and remove our freedoms while pretending to be saving the planet.”

Another fashionable meme tweeted with #climatescam options what appears to be like like an altered picture of Ralph Wiggum from The Simpsons along with his finger in his nostril. “The TV told me that if I eat bugs and pay more money to the government the weather will be gooder,” the meme says.

The overwhelming physique of analysis confirms that greenhouse gasoline emissions from fossil fuels are inflicting local weather change. A serious United Nations local weather science report revealed final yr by 230 authors from 66 international locations concluded that human exercise is primarily accountable for extra frequent excessive climate throughout the planet.

Nevertheless, misinformation about local weather change exploded on Twitter in November as delegates from the world over met for a key United Nations local weather convention. The use of #climatescam in tweets doubled from October to November, showing in 23,832 posts final month. That was 17 occasions greater than the hashtag was utilized in a mean month in 2021, in response to one other evaluation carried out for The Times by the Center for Countering Digital Hate. 

Repeat offenders appear to be driving a lot of the local weather misinformation on Twitter. Just 10 Twitter handles accounted for 1 / 4 of latest extensively shared climate-skeptic content material. Musk’s choice to welcome again individuals who had beforehand been barred from the platform has additionally allowed individuals to return who push content material that contradicts mainstream local weather science. That contains Canadian persona Jordan Peterson, who was initially thrown off Twitter in July for tweets misgendering trans actor Elliot Page. Recently, Peterson has taken to Twitter to disparage efforts to succeed in internet zero greenhouse gasoline emissions, which analysis has found is critical by the center of the century to stop world warming from surpassing 1.5 levels Celsius above preindustrial occasions.

Meanwhile, precise local weather scientists and consultants are weighing leaving Twitter, The Guardian reports, because the platform fails to reasonable dangerous content material. Separately, the Center for Countering Digital Hate has additionally discovered an increase in hate speech on Twitter since Musk took the reins. Twitter, which successfully disbanded its media relations crew throughout layoffs in November, didn’t reply to a request for remark by The Verge.

“I can understand climate scientists saying this is not a productive place for conversations with each other any more. They’ve become lightening rods for hate speech and death threats, we are seeing a real escalation of threats against them, intended to drive them off the platform,” Jennie King, head of civic motion and schooling on the Institute for Strategic Dialogue, stated to The Guardian.


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