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Climate Change Shouldn’t be Political: Why Fake News is Bad News for Climate Change?

Climate Change shouldn’t be political, and why fake news is bad news for climate change?

An issue that is as controversial as a VAR goal check in a premier league derby the issue of climate change has been warped and weaponised into political ammunition. The truth of climate change has become far from reality and shrouded by unnecessary, unactual political discourse when in fact the effects are much more real than we think.

What is climate change?

Everyone has heard at least some discussion of what climate change is but to beat the immortal horse that it is, climate change as defined by the United Nations refers to long term shifts in weather and temperature and since the 1800’s humans have been negatively affecting this mostly through the burning of fossil fuels which emit heat trapping gasses. Negative effects include extreme weather, endangering eco-systems and damaging people’s homes and livelihoods. Globally the common understanding of climate change is that the facts are irrefutable, according to NASA “97% of scientists agree that agree that it is happening and is human caused” so as a human race we now have the shared responsibility to protect our planet against the negative effects of climate change. However, for far-right extremists and those with the tinfoil hats climate change is now another weapon being used to conspire and smear positive environmental and political campaigns.

Dangers of denial

Climate change deniers often label the facts as a pseudoscience or political leftist propaganda, reasons for denial range from opinion, scientific denial and political or economical ideologies. A common tactic of deniers is to use employ rhetoric tactics like fake experts, conspiracy, cherry picking and impossible expectations. Climate change denial would not be a problem if it was kept to the small circle of conspiracists, but the danger comes when those in power preach denial like it is gospel. Often aligning with pro capitalist ideologies, it seems those on the right side of the political spectrum tend to not believe in the scientific evidence. For example, the climate change denial capital of the world would be the United States, “where in the 2016 United States election cycle, every Republican presidential candidate questioned or denied climate change, and opposed U.S. government steps to address climate change as has the Republican leader in the US Senate”.

When those in power with extreme influence exert their fictious opinions on climate change it creates uncertainty on climate science and polarises populations. The denial circus is organised by those at the top with industrial, political and economic motivations. Political figure heads who oppose the regulation of harmful gasses often have stakes or investments in gas and oil which leads to selfish motivations and scientific ignorance. The mob mentality of deniers negatively affects us all as the politicisation of climate change means activism encounters obstacles it should never have to as well as undermining the legitimate research and efforts to act against climate change.

Fake news

Climate change politics have become increasingly difficult to avoid due to the bane of everyone’s life… fake News. Across all social media’s when the user interacts with their feed the algorithms dictate the content you will see based upon views and likes. So, when a Facebook Grandpa interacts and shares fake climate change news, it then gets shared, viewed, liked and goes viral. Climate change makes great fuel for the fake news fire as its an issue that has become so clouded with misleading information it has becomes an easy target for clickbait. According to TechJury "approximately only 25% of Americans believe they can recognise fake news and shockingly 65% of Americans fully trust media outlets”. Using fake news creates genuine distrust in scientific media and according to new statistics “54% of U.S. voters believe that the news media make global warming appear worse than it really is”, political powers now use this anti-environmentalism and fake news hysteria as one of their major tools in campaigns to gain popularity with a conservative audience. False information online is an easy way to politically polarise a population, and when a large group of people actively deny the truth, it pulls us further away from the real goal which is to work positively against climate change.

What can we do?

In an ideal world we would all be holding hands round a fire (perhaps not climate correct) and singing the kumbaya but in real world terms people are too easily divided whether that’s through conspiracies spread via politicians or through online news. However, if we want to want to live in a better future we need to put our iPhone’s down, come together and protest denial and encourage real world change. You don’t have to be a flower dressed hippie to be on board with climate activism you just need to get you head out of Fox News, be careful what you read on Facebook and make sure you put your carboard in the right bin.


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