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Misinformation can harm action on climate change

Date: 27th February, 2022

Publication: Times of India

The recent report on the actions and non-actions taken by Facebook now Meta, on misinformation posts on climate change on its platform has reignited the debate on the impact of falsity on climate change initiatives. Facebook is charged for not taking suitable action on its global platform against falsehood posted by its members on the world’s most visited social networking site.  A recent report published by the London headquartered non-profit organization Center for Countering Digital Hate in its analysis says that Facebook misled investors in its efforts to tackle climate change. The watchdog insists the social networking behemoth did not label half the posts as inaccurate or erroneous that could have been directed to Facebook’s “Climate Science Information Center” for accurate information on climate change. Facebook in its defense stated that it works extensively to provide reliable information on climate change through its information center.

Data giant Google took action on climate change misinformation on 7th October 2021, when it banned advertisements on misinformation videos on its video application YouTube saying it will “prohibit ads for, and monetization of, content that contradicts well-established scientific consensus around the existence and causes of climate change”.

 

This effectively ended the earning stream of Youtubers who created videos with misinformation on the dangers of climate change. This ban will be only effective if the Youtubers were posting videos on their own, if they are backed by powerful climate change naysayers then revenue is not their priority or need. Close on the heels of Google, the microblogging site Twitter attempted to address the multitude of tweets with distortions on climate change aimed at the climate change conference COP26 held at Glasgow. Twitter stated that it will program a new policy to ‘pre-bunk’ by helping create an authentic narrative on climate change.

A disturbing tribe of climate change deniers exists in the world who rubbish the claims of the heating up of the planet and the imminent danger of climate change. This tribe uses the leading social media sites to summon their followers to ignore the call for action against global warming. Often vested interests fuel denials on climate change in leading countries to lobby against policy changes and pledges on climate change. Los Angeles-based news portal Breitbart, New York-headquartered Washington Times, The Federalist, Newsmax, and Russian state media, The Patriot Post, The Daily Wire, and The Western Journal are leading climate change naysayers who impact opinions around the globe.

 

A group called the Clexit that fancies its name on Brexit aims to push for global control through climate hysteria. The group advocates the withdrawal of countries from the Paris accord and other UN treaties on action on climate change. These outlets help create a false narrative on the global warming conspiracy theory.

Across the world, social media users and newspaper subscribers often fall for fake news which includes misinformation about Covid-19 and its vaccines, the advocacy of the falsified concept of the flat earth and possible existence of aliens, and the invasion on planet earth thereof. The harm caused by misinformation in today’s digital age on climate change is parallel to the damage caused by greenhouse emissions to the earth. The falsified perception of the reliability of climate change projections and imminent danger has attempted to neutralize opinions of the threat to the planet. Powerful lobbies use the propaganda of the climate change deniers to advance their agenda to make a quick buck today rather than worry about a dangerous tomorrow. Any policy changes that are bent to play and please climate change skeptics have the most direct impact on planet earth.

Governments, Google, social media giants, and media must urgently flag harmful misinformation and not allow a video or post to stay online for more than an hour at the maximum. The videos and posts must not be allowed to be shared, liked, or retweeted in the interim. Politicians have to resist lucrative deals that attempt to slice the planet for a gain of today for the harm of tomorrow. Policymakers and think tanks must influence corporates, media houses to be more responsible for their actions on climate change, sustainability, and emissions. Action must be taken against those Think Tanks that encourage the naysayers on climate change and help spread misinformation on the real dangers of climate change.

The climate change deniers blame inaccurate data, lofty projections, doomsday conspiracy, push for nuclear energy, political agenda, a conspiracy of renewable-energy companies, and the like. For the future of the planet, both climate change advocates and deniers must come together to resolve issues and agree on a common minimum program.

 

A healthy planet is our gift and legacy to the next generation who will inherit the world as we conserve it.