As extreme weather increases, climate misinformation makes tactical shift

By | April 22, 2021

The Associated Press reports:

Climate scientists have warned for years that a warming planet would cause more extreme storms, like the one that walloped Texas in February, knocking out power and leaving millions in a deep freeze.

Yet as the snow fell and the wind howled, some looked for other explanations for the storm and its resulting power outages. The conservative website The Gateway Pundit made the false claim that President Joe Biden’s energy policies somehow prevented Texas plants from generating the power the state needed and “led to Texans literally freezing to death.”

The next day, the conspiracy theory website Infowars published a similarly untrue story that was shared 70,000 times on Facebook and Twitter. Four days later, U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert, R-Colorado, tweeted to her 100,000 followers that Biden’s energy policies were “leaving millions of Texans freezing to death.”

All those claims were false. In fact, an emergency request granted by the Biden administration gave the state authority to exceed federal environmental limits in order to provide enough power to Texans.

To climate scientists and misinformation researchers, claims like these mark an important shift: Instead of focusing on denialism, climate misinformation is getting local, focused on extreme weather events tied to a changing climate — such the Texas storm or recent wildfires that ravaged California and Australia.

“It just isn’t credible to deny climate change or the impacts it’s having. People see it with their own two eyes,” said Penn State University climate scientist Michael Mann. “So there’s a shift in tactics. Now it’s softer forms of denial, and efforts to diminish the impacts of climate change.” [Continue reading…]

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