The Rise Of Climate Change Conspiracies

Photo by Kajetan Sumila on Unsplash

Conspiracy theories that promote climate change denial and skepticism have spread like wildfire after the United Nation’s Climate Change summit in Glasgow, Scotland 2021.

These theories have been amplified by bots and influencers and a large volume of climate change denial started leaking out on social media in June last year according to research conducted by Blackbird. AI. The technology firm’s platform uses machine-learning algorithms to scan millions of posts across mainstream social networks- including Twitter, Telegram, fringe sites, and others. Disturbingly, when they were assisted by human analysts, they identified four major climate-denial trends targeting the U.S. and European climate policies.

“Much of the content used mechanisms that were also effective in spreading dangerous covid 19 disinformation and anti-vaccine messaging.” Said Blackbird AI CEO Wasim Khaled.

The firm concluded that climate change disinformation trends on social networks borrow from themes that were effective in amplifying covid 19 disinformation and vaccine hesitancy.

The following are some of the unfounded or otherwise dubious ideas related to climate change that have circulated online ahead of the UN’s COP26 event.

Conspiracy: Climate-change Lockdowns Are Coming

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Unknown actors are targeting audiences that congregate on social media platforms to protest Covid 19 lockdowns with conspiracies that world governments will introduce “climate-change lockdowns” and “herald a new age of social control and political tyranny in the name of environmental protection”.

In October 2020, an opinion piece called “Avoiding a Climate Lockdown” appeared on Project Syndicate, a respected nonprofit media organization that provides commentary and analysis on current affairs, was linked to roughly 3,500 accounts- 498 of which appeared to be bots, and another 49 seemingly linked to influencers.

The Coronavirus crisis has primed many more social media users to become more accepting of conspiracies. Perhaps it’s down to mixed messaging provided by the UK government or the uncertainty that awaits in the future that leads people down the rabbit hole. Either way, it’s dangerous to send out these false unfounded messages through social media, especially in a time where trust in the UK government is already at an all-time low.

Conspiracy: CryptoCurrency Is “Carbon Neutral” And Regulating It Is An Authoritarian Takeover Attempt

In early June, Senator Elizabeth Warren called for policies that reduce the impact of “environmentally wasteful cryptocurrencies”. This provoked a slew of misleading posts that dismissed the well-documented environmental concerns about the energy required to mine bitcoin and branded the Massachusetts Democrats an “authoritarian”. The true energy cost of crypto-mining is nuanced, however, many of the social media posts stated that producing cryptocurrency is a “carbon-neutral” process. They also implied that the economic benefits of digital money outweigh the negative environmental impact.

Conspiracy: Climate Change Is The Result Of Secret Government Experiments

One of the most outlandish and creative conspiracies out there is the idea that Climate Change is the result of secret government experiments. More precisely, unfounded posts circulating on social media falsely claimed that climate change is caused by a state-funded program called “The High-Frequency Active Auroral Research Program”. This is a variation of the chemtrails conspiracy.

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