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Student Research Guide: False Information About Climate Change: Top Resources

by Ava Ronning

Top Resources

Benegal, S. D., & Scruggs, L. A. (2018). Correcting misinformation about climate change: the impact of partisanship in an experimental setting. Climatic Change, 148, 61–80. Retrieved from https://sbctc-skagit.primo.exlibrisgroup.com/permalink/01STATEWA_SKAGIT/4gl2p7/cdi_springer_primary_2018_10584_148_1_2192

This study showed that Republicans change their opinions more readily based on the opinions of Republican leaders and that people are more likely to agree with beliefs they already hold (confirmation bias). This source addresses the politicization of the climate change “debate”, the effects of confirmation bias, and how these things lead to climate policy inaction. Benegal and Scruggs work at the Department of Political Science at DePauw University and the University of Connecticut respectively. 

Brulle, R. (2020). Denialism: organized opposition to climate change action in the United States, 328 - 341 in David Konisky (Ed.) Handbook of Environmental Policy. Edward Elgar Publishing, Northampton MA. Retrieved from https://www.researchgate.net/publication/341134690_Denialism_organized_opposition_to_climate_change_action_in_the_United_States

This article is about how fossil fuel corporations spread disinformation by misrepresenting stolen climate science emails to make it look like there are disagreements in climate science, an event that came to be known as "Climategate". This is the only source I came across that mentioned “Climategate”. Brulle is a professor at Drexel University, an environmental sociologist, and writer for many scholarly scientific journals, especially on pieces regarding climate change.

Huertas, A., & Kriegsman, R. (2014). (Rep.). Science or Spin? Union of Concerned Scientists. Retrieved May 19, 2021, from http://www.jstor.org/stable/resrep00041

This article was mainly about how TV news spreads false information about climate change, either by downplaying or overstating the science. This article was particularly helpful to provide a different perspective- many articles place blame on conservative-biased TV news as spreading the most misinformation, and while this is true, a small portion of it comes from liberal-biased TV news. Huertas is a science communications officer for the Union of Concerned Scientists and Kriegsman is a leader in environmental justice causes.

Lewandowsky S. (2021). Climate change disinformation and how to combat it. Annual Review of Public Health, 42, 1–21. Retrieved from https://www.annualreviews.org/doi/10.1146/annurev-publhealth-090419-102409

This was the most information-rich description of climate change disinformation and it ends by suggesting ways to combat it. It covers how, oftentimes, social media climate change discussions don’t support the science, that Democrats tend to be less skeptical of climate science, and how the news media can sow confusion by making it look like there are uncertainties in climate science. Lewandowsky is a psychologist and frequently cited researcher specializing in social behavior and the environment. 

Lewandowsky, S., Cook, J., Fay, N., & Gignac, G. E. (2019). Science by social media: Attitudes towards climate change are mediated by perceived social consensus. Memory & Cognition, 47(8), 1445-1456. Retrieved from https://rdcu.be/cmtgw

This article was about how much social media affects the public’s views on climate change. When there are a large number of comments that appear to have a consensus, people tend to join that consensus. Lewandowsky is a psychologist and frequently cited researcher specializing in social behavior and the environment. 

Pinko, N., Mulvey, K., Ekwurzel, B., Frumhoff, P., Hurd, N., & Sideris, J. (2018). (Rep.). Union of Concerned Scientists: The climate accountability scorecard. Retrieved May 1, 2021, from http://www.jstor.com/stable/resrep24129 

This article covers 8 major fossil fuel companies on how accountable they are and ends with recommendations to fossil fuel companies, particularly recommending that fossil fuel companies be more transparent about their practices and support climate policy when possible. Nicole Pinko is a corporate analyst and engagement specialist in the climate program at the Union of Concerned Scientists. She also has a master’s degree in International Political Economy from University of York and extensive experience in research.

Porter, E., Wood, T. J., & Babak, B. (2019). Can presidential misinformation on climate change be corrected? Evidence from internet and phone experiments. Research & Politics, 6(3) http://dx.doi.org.ezproxy.library.skagit.edu/10.1177/2053168019864784

This article is a great source for presidential misinformation, something I had less sources for. It was mainly about Trump but proved that, after a Trump misstatement, fact-checks do help change the public opinion but maybe not enough to change the public’s opinion on climate policy. Porter has a PhD in political science from the University of Chicago and has experience in research writing and education.

Sikder, O., Smith, R. E., Vivo, P., & Livan, G. (2020). A minimalistic model of bias, polarization and misinformation in social networks. Scientific Reports, 10(1), 1–11. https://ezproxy.library.skagit.edu/login?url=https://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=a9h&AN=142425164&site=ehost-live

This source provides more information about confirmation bias and how social media creates an environment where the same opinions circulate. Sikder is an Oxford graduate data scientist with experience in computer science and analytics.

Treen, K.Md., Williams, H.T.P, O'Neill, S. (2020). Online misinformation about climate change. WIREs Climate Change, 11(5), 1-5. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/share/IRFBEEAKUK2P7QZNFJR3?target=10.1002/wcc.665

I chose this source because it gives a broader picture of who the climate deniers are and how their misinformation is spread, while most of my other sources focus more specifically on either fossil fuel companies or social media misinformation. Treen is an award-winning computer scientist and data analyst who worked with Williams, a scientific researcher educated at the University of Exeter. Williams has been highly cited and appears to write mainly about social sciences and climate change.

Union of Concerned Scientists. (2015, June 29) The Climate Deception Dossiers [Article]. https://www.ucsusa.org/resources/climate-deception-dossiers 

This source includes primary sources, including disinformation strategy documents made by major fossil fuel corporations. Kathy Mulvey is the accountability director at the Union of Concerned Scientists. She also worked with Corporate Accountability International for 20 years as executive director and international policy director. 

Williams, H. T., Lambert, H. F., Kurz, T., & McMurray, J. R. (2018). Network analysis reveals open forums and echo chambers in social media discussions of climate change. Global Environmental Change, 32, 126-138. Retrieved from https://sbctc-skagit.primo.exlibrisgroup.com/permalink/01STATEWA_SKAGIT/4gl2p7/cdi_gale_infotracacademiconefile_A416759731

The main thing I learned from this source is that when people on social media share their opinions on whether or not climate change exists or is human-caused, climate science is neglected. What’s unique about this source, though, is that social media can also be a great place for activism. Williams is a highly-cited scientific researcher educated at the University of Exeter.

 

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