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How to combat climate change misinformation

How to combat climate change misinformation

The big lies about election fraud will be repeated over and over in the coming months as Congress considers the new For the People Act, the Supreme Court hears voter rights cases and state legislatures debate hundreds of bills on election reform across the country. Despite the court rulings, government investigations and a multitude of information to the contrary, these falsehoods are perpetuated widely. Similar widespread misinformation campaigns of this magnitude are uncomfortably familiar to those of us working on climate change and environmental issues.

Some of the politicians who spout baseless claims of election fraud are also long-time climate change deniers. The skills with which they dismiss court rulings and spew misleading sound bites have been honed through years of experience in ignoring evidence and downplaying the risks of global warming. It’s time for a reckoning. Does the new clamor for facts and science extend beyond the efforts to fight the pandemic and protect our democracy? Of course it should. It’s time to have a serious debate on how to address climate change without complicating the issue with further deceit or delay.

The seeds of climate change misinformation were planted almost 40 years ago by the fossil fuel industry which likely understood the negative impacts that a changing climate could have on their business profits. The Union of Concerned Scientists and others have documented efforts by the oil and coal industries in the 1980s to sow doubt about climate science and develop messaging that we’d now call “alternative facts.”

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