What is Climate Misinformation and Climate Disinformation? All You Need To Know

Climate Skeptic and Climate Denier — What’s The Difference?

My pretty graph, but the data was downloaded from Google Trends

So What is Climate Misinformation, Then?

  • Casting doubt on anyone in the movement — climate scientists, activists, the media or celebrities that may talk about it. E.g. “DiCaprio wants us to cut emissions, but I don’t see him walking to work every day!”
  • Downplaying the potential future cost of climate change e.g. “if we just grow our economies, we will find technological solutions” — or, only focusing on the cost of adaptation without mentioning the even bigger cost of not acting e.g. “everyone is going to need a new boiler — who is going to pay for it?” This last one is a favourite of known climate denier group in the UK, the Global Warming Policy Forum, who have recently re-branded from their obvious climate denial to a more subtle opposition to Net Zero targets. Still climate misinformation, though.
  • Framing the situation as hopeless, so we may as well not act E.g. “why should our country reduce emissions if China will never do so?”
  • Framing the whole umbrella of science — not just climate science — as a conspiracy to be wary of e.g. “why trust scientists when they are paid for their work? They are of course going to find results that keep them in their cushy jobs”

What is Climate Change Disinformation and What’s The Difference Between Disinformation and Misinformation?

Quiz! Can You Help Spot Climate Misinformation?

This is a version of the CARDS taxonomy that features in the latest climate communication science by Coan, T. G., Boussalis, C., Cook, J., & Nanko, M. O. (in press). Computer-assisted detection and classification of misinformation about climate change. Nature Scientific Reports.. If you do spot any climate misinformation in the press or online platforms, please do send it to us at hello@stopfundingheat.info or tweet us @stopfundingheat!

Further Resources

  • I wrote a report earlier this year about the extent of climate misinformation on Facebook, which was covered worldwide. I’ve yet to write about it here — it’s been a super busy time, but I do plan on putting something together soon. There is also a second report coming before COP26 — watch this space.
  • Sign the petition to tell Facebook to do something about the runaway climate denial on their platform!
  • As listed above, skepticalscience.com is an amazing resource as a launchpad for what kind of climate misinformation is out there.

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Lifelong activist reporting on climate change, big tech and democracy. I have compassion for all, but little patience for those that abuse their power.

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Sean Buchan

Sean Buchan

Lifelong activist reporting on climate change, big tech and democracy. I have compassion for all, but little patience for those that abuse their power.

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