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Targeted misinformation trivializes climate change



Ninety-nine percent of climate scientists agree that the climate crisis is caused by humans and that the burning of fossil fuels is the main driver of global warming. Despite this, most people underestimate both the sheer unanimity of these scientific findings and the broad public support for climate change mitigation measures. How is this possible?

“Since the turn of the millennium alone, coal, oil and gas companies have spent billions of U.S. dollars lobbying to avoid decisive climate protective legislation because shifting away from fossil energy sources would be a major blow to their business,” says Zahra Rahmani, PhD student in the Psychology of Sustainability and Behavior Change working group at the University of Basel. “The industry hires communication experts to help them hone their messages to appeal to large segments of the population, particularly via social media.”

Intentional deception through disinformation.

A recently published registered report in the journal Nature Human Behaviour demonstrates that the investments of the fossil fuel industry in climate disinformation are paying off. A team of researchers at the University of Basel and the University of Geneva exposed around 6,800 participants in 12 countries with disinformation concerning climate-related topics. One such example was the claim that wind and solar power are more expensive than electricity generated from fossil sources and that these alternatives would inevitably destabilize the power grid.


Read the full article in Uni-Nova (01/2024).

Image: University of Basel, AI-generated by Benjamin Meier.