climate denial


A recent report has unveiled a concerning trend among UK teenagers, indicating that one-third of them consider climate change to be “exaggerated.”

This revelation comes amid a surge in YouTube content promoting a new form of climate denial specifically targeting young audiences.

Traditionally, climate denial focused on disputing the existence or human causation of climate change. However, research conducted by the Centre for Countering Digital Hate (CCDH) reveals a shift in tactics.

The majority of climate denial content on YouTube now challenges the effectiveness of climate solutions, questions the reliability of climate science and environmental movements, or portrays the impacts of global warming as benign or even beneficial.

Analysing data from over 12,000 climate-related YouTube videos posted by 96 channels between January 2018 and September 2023, along with a nationally representative survey by Survation, the CCDH found that 31% of UK respondents aged 13 to 17 believe that “Climate change and its effects are being purposefully overexaggerated”.

Among heavy social media users in this age group, defined as those spending over four hours daily on any platform, this figure rises to 37%.

The report underscores a notable transition from what is termed “old denial” to “new denial.” While the former rejected the occurrence or human influence on climate change, the latter predominantly questions the efficacy of climate solutions and casts doubt on climate science.

This shift, according to the report, reflects a recognition that the scientific consensus on climate change is increasingly undeniable, prompting deniers to target solutions and advocates for climate action.

This trend has permeated UK politics, with right-wing politicians casting doubt on the feasibility and affordability of achieving net zero emissions targets. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, for instance, has expressed skepticism about the cost-effectiveness of climate solutions and has scaled back commitments to achieving net zero emissions.

Given that young people are avid consumers of YouTube content, with 71% of 13- to 17-year-olds using the platform daily according to Pew Research Center, the impact of such narratives is significant.

Channels like Jordan Peterson, BlazeTV, and PragerU are cited in the report for promoting these new denial messages to millions of subscribers.

The report urges YouTube and its parent company, Google, to take action against the dissemination of climate disinformation on their platforms. It highlights the concerning presence of paid advertisements from major brands and non-profits appearing alongside videos espousing new denial narratives, calling for greater accountability and responsibility in combating misinformation.



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