Why is climate denial still thriving online?

Why is climate denial still thriving online?

Record global temperatures on July 3 kicked off the hottest week ever recorded as intense heat waves gripped the planet. Climate scientist Friederike Otto, of London’s Grantham Institute for Climate Change and the Environment, called the heat “a death sentence for people and ecosystems.”

Yet, the next day, a political journalist in the United Kingdom, Isabel Oakeshott, tweeted that “climate change headbangers panicking about a few hot days last month can calm down … It’s 13 degrees and pouring.” She added that she was “about to light the woodburner.” Within a day, over 2.2 million people had seen the tweet. 

Oakeshott, a presenter on the conservative TalkTV news channel and former editor of the Sunday Times, often comments on Twitter about “climate change nuts.” On July 5, she asked: “Where’s Greta when it’s woolly jumpers in July?”

Amid the worst heat waves ever recorded in the United States, China, Mexico, Siberia and beyond, and near-unanimous scientific consensus that humans have induced global heating — in large part by burning fossil fuels — how does such denial continue to flourish?

The largest global survey on climate change opinion published in 2021 found that nearly 65% of people across diverse age ranges in more than 50 countries consider climate change a “global emergency,” yet researchers have found a recent resurgence in skepticism and denial.

An anecdotal look at DW’s own Planet A TikTok channel shows comments that peddle outright denial, but also question solutions such as the transition to clean energy. 

Climate change is not real. It’s just about the money. This is sad that you scared children. You should be ashamed of yourself,” wrote one user after DW posted a video about young activists suing the state of Montana for not doing enough about the climate crisis.

“So how are they going to charge their EVs when there is no electricity?” another wrote, implying that renewable energy is not a reliable power source — despite wind and solar being the cheapest and fastest-growing forms of energy.  

These are old rhetorical tricks that today are targeted less at climate science than solutions, says John Cook, a climatologist and senior research fellow at the University of Melbourne, and author of the Skeptical Science blog that has long debunked climate misinformation. The idea that “solutions will be harmful” or “solutions won’t work” is a repackaging of old attacks on the cost of climate action from the 1990s, he added.

Read more at: dw.com

Photo:dw.com, COMISION FEDERAL DE ELECTRICIDAD/HANDOUT/dpa/picture alliance

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