Climate skeptics, kings of social networks? The report points to a resurgence of climate conspiracy theories

What really surprised us this year was the resurgence of language reminiscent of the 1980s: phrases like “climate fraud” and ‘climate fraud’climate change deniers“said Jennie King, who works at the London-based Institute for Strategic Dialogue (ISD).

Among the most popular false claims are those that claim that CO2 does not play a role in climate change or that global warming is not caused by human activity. Climate Action Against Disinformation (CAAD), a coalition of associations, in the report.

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An analysis of Twitter posts for AFP by two computer scientists at City University London calculated 1.1 million tweets or retweets using climate-skeptic terms in 2022. That’s nearly twice as much as in 2021, researchers Max Falkenberg and Andrea Baronchelli noted, with climate change misinformation peaking in December, a month after the COP27 summit and billionaire Elon Musk’s takeover of Twitter.

The American group Center to Combat Digital Hate (CCDH) has pointed the finger at Elon Musk, who has reinstated many banned Twitter accounts and opened the payment option for a verified account. “Elon Musk’s decision to open up his platform to hate and misinformation has led to an explosion of climate misinformation on the platform.“, said Callum Hood, head of research at CCHR.

The American billionaire himself warned about the dangers of global warming in August 2022, calling it “great risk“. The use of the hashtag #ClimateScam (“climate scam”) has increased on Twitter since July 2022, according to analysis by CAAD and CCDH. For weeks, it was a search term that was not even offered on the site for Internet users. Type the word “climate” .

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A quarter of all climate-skeptic tweets came from just 10 accounts, including Maxime Bernier, leader of Canada’s right-wing populist party, and Paul Joseph Watson, editor of the conspiracy theory website InfoWars.

Other social networks are also affected. According to Advance Democracy (ADI), videos using hashtags related to climate change denial on TikTok gained 4.9 million views. A search for the videos often returned ads for climate-skeptic products. The ads were later removed, YouTube spokeswoman Elena Hernandez told AFP.

TikTok and Twitter declined to comment when contacted by AFP. On the contrary, ADI on Facebook found that the number of such posts decreased compared to 2021.

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CAAD notes in its report that climate-skeptic content is routinely linked to election fraud, vaccinations, the Covid pandemic, migration, and other misinformation…”Undoubtedly, we are seeing a proliferation of conspiracy theories. The new divisive topic in the debate of ideas is climate“, emphasizes Jennie King of ISD.

The vast majority of world scientists agree that humanity is warming the planet by burning fossil fuels. “There is no doubt that human influence has warmed the atmosphere, oceans, and land“, the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) affirmed in its 2021 report, calling on CO2 emissions to be reduced as much as possible to avoid the worst consequences of this warming.

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We encourage platforms to think about the very real consequences of climate change“, CCHR’s Callum Hood insists.”Those who repeatedly spread blatantly false climate information should not have their current audience“.

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