Logo ||| Logo facebook Adong


A new form of climate change denial has gained ground on YouTube, according to a new report

Condividi su Facebook Condividi su Telegram Condividi su Twitter Visita Instagram Condividi su Threads

A new form of climate change denial has taken root on YouTube, as per a recent report.

Misinformation about climate change on YouTube has transformed into a new misleading narrative, according to a report published today. With ongoing disasters making it increasingly challenging to deny that climate change is happening, creators spreading misinformation have shifted towards content targeting clean energy.

In the past, content that falsely claimed climate change was not occurring or was not caused by fossil fuel combustion dominated the realm of misinformation channels. This is no longer the case, according to an analysis by the nonprofit Center for Countering Digital Hate (CCDH). Instead, the most common lies about climate change now revolve around denying the benefits of clean energy, attacking policies aimed at reducing fossil fuel pollution, and defaming scientists and advocates pushing for change.

This type of "new denial" constituted 70% of climate change denial content on YouTube in 2023, according to the report, compared to 35% in 2018. It primarily focuses on misleading messages that "climate change solutions won't work," that the science supporting such solutions is unreliable, or that global warming is not genuinely harmful.

There is overwhelming evidence that greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuels are causing climate change, exacerbating deadly climate disasters, and that transitioning to clean energy is the only way to address the problem on a large scale.

In a case study, researchers reference an increase in this type of content by Canadian commentator Jordan Peterson in recent years. "The idea that we can make the planet more livable on the environmental front by impoverishing poor people, increasing energy and food prices, is absolutely, not just logically absurd, but I think is comparable to genocide," Peterson said in a YouTube video posted in 2022.

Peterson did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Verge. Climate change is expected to cause an additional 250,000 deaths each year in the coming decades, increasing the risks of heat stress, malaria, undernutrition, and diarrhea, according to the World Health Organization. Fortunately, renewable energy is already a more cost-effective alternative to fossil fuel power plants and can help prevent deaths related to the effects of climate change.

Google's policies against misinformation need to adapt to the new trends in climate misinformation, the report authors argue. They found that the company was displaying ads on that kind of content, despite having a policy that "prohibits ads on content that contradicts well-established scientific consensus on the existence and causes of climate change."

"It's hypocritical for social media companies to claim they are green but then monetize and amplify climate lies," said Imran Ahmed, CEO and founder of CCDH, in a press release. "Digital platforms need to put their reputation where their money is. They should refuse to amplify or monetize cynical climate denial content that undermines trust in our collective ability to address humanity's most urgent challenge."

Citing Google's existing climate change policy, Google spokesperson Nate Funkhouser said in an email, "Debates or discussions on topics related to climate change, including public policy or research, are allowed. However, when content crosses the line into climate change denial, we stop showing ads on those videos." The company stated that it had removed ads from some of the videos mentioned in the report for violating its policy, but that most of the mentioned videos were compliant.

To conduct its analysis, CCDH examined 4,458 hours of video transcripts from 96 YouTube channels between 2018 and 2023. They used an artificial intelligence tool called CARDS to classify different types of false claims about climate change and how often they occurred.

The new tactics of climate change denial may have already left an impression on young YouTube viewers. In a survey conducted by Survation for CCDH of over 1,000 teenagers in the United States aged 13 to 17, one-third of teenagers said that "climate policies do more harm than good."

"Platforms like YouTube have billions of users and a monopoly on young people's attention," said Michael Khoo, director of the climate misinformation program at the nonprofit Friends of the Earth. "Social media companies must stop amplifying and profiting from climate change denial that threatens action on the most urgent crisis in human history."