OPINION | Views expressed in this article reflect the author's opinion.
via PBS NewsHour

A study published in Scientific Reports argued that social media companies should flag accounts spreading “falsehoods” about climate change in order to combat “denialism.”

It claimed 12-26% of Americans deny the real dangers of global warming.

However, the article failed to define “denialism” and viewed positions in a binary rather than nuanced way.

“Reasons for this denialism are multifaceted: Political affiliation and ideology, income, education, and exposure to extreme weather events are all important factors,” the article states, noting that denialism “is more prevalent where local economies are highly dependent on fossil fuels, in rural communities, and in populations where mistrust in science is pronounced.”

It associated climate skepticism with questioning of COVID policies and linked it to political affiliation, economic factors, education and trust in science.

The authors suggested flagging denialist tweets and accounts as misinformation, as Twitter did for COVID claims.

“The strong correlation between denialism and low COVID-19 vaccination rates indicated a broad skepticism of science generally amongst climate change deniers,” the article states, “which corresponds to resistance to science-based public policies such as shelter-in-place COVID-19 mandates or mask usage.”

“At both the county and state levels, populations with a high percentage of Republican voters had the strongest correlation with climate change deniers,” it adds.

They warned that climate change is a humanitarian crisis affecting millions, and lamented that Twitter’s new ownership may spread more misinformation.

Critically, the article failed to acknowledge a growing scientific opposition documented in declarations signed by over 1,600 scientists who say there is no climate emergency and models are inadequate, climate change is natural and not intensifying disasters, and CO2 mitigation policies are costly and harmful.

“Based on current policy, X (formerly Twitter) does not appear to be imposing account bans or suspensions for promoting climate change denialism,” the article reads. “This, and related policy changes associated with new ownership of the social media platform, may make it even more susceptible to the spread of misinformation.”

“Climate science has degenerated into a discussion based on beliefs, not on sound self-critical science,” they wrote.

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“The geological archive reveals that Earth’s climate has varied as long as the planet has existed, with natural cold and warm phases,” it states. “The Little Ice Age ended as recently as 1850. Therefore, it is no surprise that we now are experiencing a period of warming.”

“There is no statistical evidence that global warming is intensifying hurricanes, floods, droughts and suchlike natural disasters, or making them more frequent,” it reads, noting that there is abundant evidence “that CO2-mitigation measures are as damaging as they are costly.”

“We strongly oppose the harmful and unrealistic net-zero CO2 policy proposed for 2050,” the article reads.

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