How Doubt and Misinformation Stimulates Climate Change
There is much misinformation being spread about climate change: its effects, severity, and importance. Those who spread it aid in the efforts to destroy our society as we know it, and ultimately our planet and the life on it. Climate change is a serious issue and disinformation is usually spread by those who have the most to lose by aiding in the offset or reversal of climate change. Special interest lobby groups spend billions per year in pushing denialist claims. Constantly stating them as experts to sow doubt in the climate change theories and science has been proven to be true. As recent as 2010 belief in climate change dropped to “an all-time low of 48 percent, despite the fact that those 20 years saw increased research, improved climate models and several climate change predictions coming true (Westervelt)”. The effects of climate change misinformation cannot be overstated; the lack of interest results in a lack of funding and research, leaving us in the dark to the future of our planet. Without this fundamental research, we won’t be able to predict or asses how much needs to be done to save the planet.
Climate change denial movement being run by those who have the most to lose from climate change activism and policies isn’t surprising, to say the least. It is only compounded by the fact that our very minds work against us. The reality of climate change is simply too much to handle. Constantly thinking about the impending doom of the world isn’t something a single human being can really grasp. The enormous impact and implications of climate change often leave us feeling helpless and unable to truly assist in reversing it. That pressure constantly binds us to inaction and the routine doubt placed upon the veracity of climate change claims all melds together to make humans shrug it off. Oil and gas corporations Exxon and Mobil, both routinely propped up op-ed pieces that were made to appear as factual and utilizing so-called “experts” to sow the seeds of doubt within the public. The sad part is, it worked! The public’s faith in climate change claims has gone down significantly, and winning back trust won’t be an easy task.
So then what can we do?
Well, to start, we need to stop giving claims of denial a platform to spread their misinformation. It is not a subjective statement to say that human beings have played a significant role in climate change. Putting any messaging that sheds doubt on that statement should not be given the time of day. Understanding what is and isn’t a fact, isn’t always easy though, and doing your part is important too. Start small and where you can. Make a difference in the things you buy, the companies you support, and the way you act towards the environment. Don’t be scared of what we can’t control; fear itself is what causes us to stop acting, and become passive in the fight against climate change. The small actions we take can force us to act in bigger and broader ways. Take one less flight a year and take the train once a week instead of driving (Gorman, par.13). Invest in solar and wind energies, either through financial support or activism. Take part in groups devoted to climate change awareness; law or policy changes make it easier to do so in the first place. The group setting puts our minds at ease and makes us feel togetherness in the fight against climate change. It doesn’t have to just be you-you’re a part of a collective. Finally, ignore extremism; you don’t have to shut down airlines or stop all cars. We don’t have to give up all of our meat and become vegans. We just need to moderate what we do and find better solutions on how we do it. Electric cars, reductions in factory farming, and less flying if we can, help. It is a good enough start to where we need to be.
Gorman, J.M., PHD., MPH and Sara Gorman “Climate Change Denial.” Psychology Today, 12 Jan 2019, Sussex Publishers, LLC, https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/denying-the-grave/201901/climate-change-denial
Westervelt, Amy. “How the fossil fuel industry got the media to think climate change was debatable.” The Washington Post, 10 Jan 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/outlook/2019/01/10/how-fossil-fuel-industry-got-media-think-climate-change-was-debatable/