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Category: Climate Communications

Journalism: Sunday Times writer thinks killing old people is good because reasons

Journalism: Sunday Times writer thinks killing old people is good because reasons

Sunday Times columnist says coronavirus is a good thing because it kills old people, and only older people are climate skeptics.

This is today’s journalism which finds age-based hate speech is fine. He is oblivious that coronavirus does not kill based on beliefs – it also kills old people who care about climate change, old politicians that want to do something, and older climate scientists.

Climate communications: Media and some climate researchers misleading the public

Climate communications: Media and some climate researchers misleading the public

Two climate scientists, in a comment in Nature, note the media (and many climate scientists too) have been incorrectly presenting the RCMP8.5 “worst case scenario” as the most likely case. Data show this worst case is extremely unlikely, but its use in climate communications propaganda messaging has led to a mental health crisis as up to half of various population groups believe humanity may be extinct in ten years, and many youth are now medicated for anxiety caused by exaggerated climate communications efforts.

Journalism: “Oregon ranks high in rising rate of natural disasters”

Journalism: “Oregon ranks high in rising rate of natural disasters”

The news headline says Oregon ranks high in natural disasters, which the text explains, is wildfires in the State.

This claim comes from a press release from a small, little known online Internet insurance sales web site. This type of press release is put out in hopes of garnering free publicity – and it certainly worked for them – in large part because the media, like all of us, is more likely to succumb to a fear-based scary headline.

However, if we practice factfulness and look at the long term trend in Oregon fires we see that a small rise at the right end of the chart has been translated into a crisis and a catastrophe. The chart above is the official chart from the Oregon government’s Fire Statistics page, and shows actual acreage burned and total fires burned in Oregon since 1911.

The slight increase at the extreme right edge is the basis for the scary headline. By leaving out all historical context and by focusing on large percentile increase in a tiny number at the right edge of the chart, the media creates unwarranted fear and hysteria in viewers.

Climate communications: Reporting focused on fear and hysteria, rather than solutions, leads to anxiety attacks, medicating young people

Climate communications: Reporting focused on fear and hysteria, rather than solutions, leads to anxiety attacks, medicating young people

The media’s focus on scary, fear-based propaganda messaging – and avoidance of discussing workable solutions that are already underway – leads to intense negativity and anxiety. The result has been a majority of young people believing humanity may be extinct in ten years, even though there is zero evidence to support such nonsense. We are literally scaring people to death via false and inappropriate propaganda messaging. Some journalists are looking to “solutions journalism” moving away from the whining negativity of current news reports that focus on problems and seldom examine workable solutions,. This new approach offers hope and a positive way forward.

Climate communications: Exaggerated, unsupported threats are destroying people’s lives

Climate communications: Exaggerated, unsupported threats are destroying people’s lives

Public climate communications has gone so far off the target that people now believe in apocalyptic end of life scenarios (in the near term!) that are not supported by any science at all (while telling us we must listen to the scientists). This then, is a summary and link to comments from another actual climate scientist. Because without listening, this is what we get: “I genuinely have the fear that climate change is going to kill me and all my family, I’m not even kidding it’s all I have thought about for the last 9 months every second of the day. It’s making my sick to my stomach, I’m not eating or sleeping and I’m getting panic attacks daily. It’s currently 1 am and I can’t sleep as I’m petrified.” – Young adult in the UK.

Journalism: The first “message” received is the one remembered, even if later proven as false.

Journalism: The first “message” received is the one remembered, even if later proven as false.

Reports of a polar bear spray painted with “T-34” on its side were greatly exaggerated. The tagging was done by scientists, not pranksters. The bear had been rummaging a garbage dump and scientists wanted to see if it was returning. They tagged it with a short duration ink; this was not graffiti by pranksters as initially reported. Typical of this type of report, the original source for the video was unknown, the back story was unknown, and the video was shared on social media by an environmental activist. Media then used social media as a primary source. What could possibly go wrong?

Climate communications: Professor of Atmospheric Science decries “Promoters of Climate Anxiety”

Climate communications: Professor of Atmospheric Science decries “Promoters of Climate Anxiety”

A professor of atmospheric sciences weighs in on the exaggerated, hyperbolic click-bait inducing media news stories and the negative impact they are having on mental health as many suffer severe climate anxiety. Many such stories are not merely exaggerated but false, which has led to the bizarre situation where a majority of younger voters in the U.S. believe humanity will be extinct within ten years. There is no scientific justification for these beliefs, illustrating how climate communications has gone off the rails.

#Climate communications: Dr. Hans Rosling on the problem of exaggerated claims, false urgency, leading to bad decisions on climate change policy

#Climate communications: Dr. Hans Rosling on the problem of exaggerated claims, false urgency, leading to bad decisions on climate change policy

Excessive exaggeration in climate communications is leading to “a situation where no one listens anymore. Without trust, we are lost.” Hyperbolic and unrealistic scenarios lead to the impossibility of reaching workable solutions. Coupled with the salesman’s technique of a false sense of urgency, we create unnecessary stress – which leads the target to give up and tune out. Under urgent pressure, we make bad decisions with even worse outcomes. That’s a summary of comments from the late Dr. Hans Rosling, in his book Factfulness.