• Diane

The Battle Against Misinformation: Covid vs Climate Change

It’s really not as bad as people think

The news media is blowing it way out of proportion

It’s all China’s fault!

The topic of conversation for all three of these statements could either be about the Coronavirus pandemic or climate change. Such similar denial arguments, yet one big difference.

The response.

In retaliation to the misinformation about Covid-19 comes swift and forceful truth statements. If you have been on social media at all during this, you’ll have seen accurate scientific information spread like wildfire, most of it super simplified in a way anyone can understand. Everyone and their mother, even celebrities and politicians, have come out in force to crush the misinformation bandwagon. It’s been really encouraging to see.

But, why hasn’t climate change gotten this kind of response? There’s no shortage of well-informed people out there to correct bad information when they see it, and to spread the facts.

Well, it’s the urgency of the issue. With Covid-19 the threat is right here in front of us. Mass amounts of death, not far in the future, but now. While I could argue people are already dying from climate change impacts, it’s not nearly as in our face. Sadly, a factor of the concern is that the virus is affecting the western person strongly now that it has spread. Money can’t protect someone from a virus the way it can from starvation or the ability to avoid areas frequently hit by natural disaster.

Really it’s not only classist eurocentric reasons. It’s the short-sightedness. It’s thinking, this issue can’t hurt me in the next day, week or month. But really it’s the here and now where action needs to happen because once too much momentum is gained, there won’t be any stopping it.

The issue is urgent. And it has been for some time.

This pandemic has shown us all that misinformation can be squashed. Maybe not completely, there are always some that won’t accept facts even if you bash them over the head with it. But it can be greatly reduced. This leads to most people acting responsibly. We can and should treat climate change with all the seriousness and urgency that has been given to the pandemic.

We have to turn up the volume and tell people that no, we will not let them make decisions of the future of the planet based on ignorance.

Conspiracy theories happen due to fear of the issue. People feel helpless so they rather tell themselves the problem doesn’t exist. During the time of Covid spreading, we have empowered people by telling them what they can do to fix the issue. Wash your hands. Stay inside. Social distancing. These are clear and easy to follow messages. For climate change, we need to tell people what they can do. Call your congressman. Protest. Stop flying.

We are learning so much from this horrible situation. Hopefully, the misinformed will see that the same people that told them Covid-19 was a hoax are the ones telling them climate change is no big thing. I hope that this situation will help to break people’s trust in those that are continually lying to them and make them more receptive to scientific data.

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