By Nicole Banks Barrantes - International Relations degree student

The human being is wired to respond to emotional triggers and share the information that is granted to them; this can sometimes be manifested into misinformation, which reinforces existing beliefs and prejudices. Misinformation strengthens false content shared by a person who doesn’t realize it is fake. Climate change has become a trending topic, where many express their thoughts on the matter, and many provide perfidious facts. Confronting the issue of public emissions over climate change, requires acknowledging and addressing the cause. A major contributor on polarization concerning climate change is the effect of an abundance of certain belief systems that take part in misinformation campaigns (Wardle, 2019).

Misinformation about climate change can be found in several platforms as mainstream and social media. A damaging element of misinformation is its ability to counteract the positive effect of accurate information. Many contrarian scientists have been promoting their points of view through public engagement, instead of influencing with published research, which has had a big effect on the population’s perspective (Cook, 2019). The standard journalist practice of giving both sides of a subject equally has allowed people to obtain unbalanced coverage, thus amplifying their views on the matter.

In some cases, when denial is sensed to threaten a person’s worldview, it can recoil and reinforce false beliefs. Refutations that place too much emphasis on the disclaimed myth increase the risk that the myth itself might be thought of as true. Countering climate misinformation can be refuted with several communication strategies; these can be more effective if they’re target audiences without ideological filters. When expressing climate change facts, it’s more effective to show it with graphical information than text, to reduce misperceptions. (Cook, 2019).

In order to fight climate change misinformation, a better educational system should be implemented. Misconception based learning is a field of study in an educational context involving teaching scientific concepts by examining misconceptions and how they distort the science behind it. Also called refutational teaching, it could offer a powerful and practical way to apply inoculation in an educational setting; a physiological research that exposes people to a weak form of “the virus”, misinformation can be neutralized by exposing people to a weak form of misinformation. The finding of misinformation cancels out precise information implies that science communication is a necessary but insufficient condition for communicators and educators seeking to improve public levels of climate knowledge. Educators and public communicators accept refusal practices informed by psychological research findings suitable to fight misinformation effectively without it backfiring. Misinformation is a vast and complicated societal problem, that requires immediate solutions (Cook, 2019).

Education is an essential element of the global response in relation to climate change. It helps people understand and address the impact of global warming, as well as it encouraged changes in people’s attitudes and behavior. Education can help play an essential role in increasing adaptation and mitigation capacities of communities, and empower society to adopt sustainable lifestyles. If the problem persists, it can be feared that the population might continue to follow ignorant tendencies preceded by hatred that increased every day with neglect. With an informed population, a team that fights the same environmental battles can be created, and could support possible solutions or search for alternatives together.

 

MOXIE es el Canal de ULACIT (www.ulacit.ac.cr), producido por y para los estudiantes universitarios, en alianza con el medio periodístico independiente Delfino.cr, con el propósito de brindarles un espacio para generar y difundir sus ideas.  Se llama Moxie - que en inglés urbano significa tener la capacidad de enfrentar las dificultades con inteligencia, audacia y valentía - en honor a nuestros alumnos, cuyo “moxie” los caracteriza.

Bibliographic references:
• Cook, J. (2019). Understanding and countering misinformation about climate change. In Chiluwa, I. & Samoilenko, S. (Eds.). Handbook of Research on Deception, Fake News, and Misinformation Online (pp. 281-306). Hershey, PA: IGI-Global. Retrieved from https://www.climatechangecommunication.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/06/Cook_2019_climate_misinformation-1.pdf
• Wardle, C. (2019). Misinformation has created the new world disorder. Scientific American. Retrieved from: https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/misinformation-has-created-a-new-world-disorder/