Climate Change, Disinformation, and How to Combat It

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Abstract

Climate change presents a challenge at multiple levels: It challenges our cognitive abilities because the effect of the accumulation of emissions is difficult to understand. Climate change also challenges many people's worldview because any climate mitigation regime will have economic and political implications that are incompatible with libertarian ideals of unregulated free markets. These political implications have created an environment of rhetorical adversity in which disinformation abounds, thus compounding the challenges for climate communicators. The existing literature on how to communicate climate change and dispel misinformation converges on several conclusions: First, providing information about climate change, in particular explanations of why it occurs, can enhance people's acceptance of science. Second, highlighting the scientific consensus can be an effective means to counter misinformation and raise public acceptance. Third, culturally aligned messages and messengers are more likely to be successful. Finally, climate misinformation is best defanged, through a process known as inoculation, before it is encountered, although debunking techniques can also be successful.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-21
Number of pages25
JournalAnnual Review of Public Health
Volume42
Early online date23 Dec 2020
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2021

Structured keywords

  • Cognitive Science
  • Memory

Keywords

  • climate change
  • science denial
  • disinformation
  • communicating science

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