Reject Climate Misinformation
Reject Climate Misinformation
By D. S. Mitchell
Ants at a Picnic
Misinformation proliferates like ants at a picnic, while truth seems to lumber along aimlessly. Such distortion is often hard to fight on major issues such as climate change. The hazards of ignoring or misunderstanding climate change are too dangerous to let this continue. Sadly, two thirds of the American public admits they rarely discuss global warming. It is more important than ever to help people understand how dangerous the phenomenon is to the planet and us; her population. We must start talking about it, and keep talking about it.
Changing minds is not an easy task. Each of us tend to hide out in our own information bubble, fending off ideas that threaten our beliefs. The Environmental Defense Fund in a recent article in their Solutions’ magazine offered six ways to fight climate misinformation. Frequently we will hear a friend or loved one spread fake news and want to speak up, but are uncomfortable in confronting the lies and misinformation. EDF’s Misinformation Brigade has some suggestions to help navigate the touchy subject of climate change and other hard issues confronting our world. Creating tactful and inclusive engagement is essential. Here are EDF’s tips on how to help correct climate change misinformation.
It is a proven fact that people are more likely to take in information from someone they know and trust than a stranger. So, shut down the PC. The internet is not where you will sway hearts and minds. To have the most impact, stick with your inner circle. Furthermore, no one likes to be publicly pressured, so if you want to make the biggest impact, do it in private.
‘Confirmation Bias’ is the psychological mechanism that confirms the content of information we as individuals take in from the world around us that supports our already formed worldview. All that means is that we look for information to support our already formed opinions. Knowing that can help us change thinking. So, remember, before you make any statement, pro or con, ask questions of your friend or family member. Find out how they feel about the “news” they are sharing. It is important that you as a maker of change start by acknowledging their feelings. Listen to what they say, it will make them more wiling to listen to your point of view.
Appeal to Fear
Definitions are important. “Misinformation” is defined as ‘inaccurate or misleading’ information. On the other hand, “disinformation” is characterized as ‘deliberately deceptive.” The purveyors of disinformation use emotion-usually anger-to appeal to people who may already be feeling afraid or powerless. That sense of powerlessness thrives during periods of social unrest, war, and pandemics. It is important that you recognize that dynamic when engaging in conversations. Engage your kindness gene and use kindness and tolerance not irritation and anger.
Start with shared values. Avoid condemnation. Encourage the conversation with an imagined future world where kids have clean water and air, where we are energy independent, where there are still wilderness areas. Devise a plan to work together to make that wished for world a reality.
Getting it Straight
It is important to understand that we are all being bombarded by fake news and disinformation. All you have to do is open Facebook. Admit it up front, that you might have some things wrong; it may help get a conversation started. Maybe you and your family member, or friend, could make it your business to research “news sources” and “facts”. EDF Action’s website can be helpful in finding links and tools to verify content. Lead Stories might be a more comfortable site for conservatives to use when verifying information. Just commit to verify all content before you post the “news”; or spread the information.
Have respect for the topic, and make sure that you are only sharing true, correct and verifiable information. Let’s make sure we are part of the solution, not part of the problem. If you spot something particularly harmful on social media, report it to firstname.lastname@example.org and they will contact social media companies and address the disinformation and lobby for its removal as inaccurate, or in the least tag it as inaccurate.
edf.org/how-we-can-fight-climate-misinformation: (Check out the EDF guide to identify and combat disinformation).
edf.org/brigade: (Join the Misinformation Brigade and you will receive texts on dangerous misinformation and what you can do to help stop its spread).
leadstories.com (Check out this conservative fact checking site).