We live in the era of information, for better or for worse.
I say that because while information has never been more abundant and getting access to it has never been easier and faster the same can be said for disinformation.
Disinformation, deliberately-spread, intentionally false or inaccurate information has become so pervasive, it’s hard to tell sometimes where the truth is buried.
There are several tactics disinformationists use to manipulate their audience, perhaps the most egregious of which is manufacturing controversy where there is none.
On no subject is this more true than on climate change. On Monday, a draft of the upcoming report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was leaked to major news organizations. The report raises to 95 per cent the certainty that human activities are the cause of unprecedented global warming in the past half-century.
“It is extremely likely that human influence on climate caused more than half of the observed increase in global average surface temperature from 1951 to 2010,” the draft report says. “There is high confidence that this has warmed the ocean, melted snow and ice, raised global mean sea level and changed some climate extremes in the second half of the 20th century.”
There is no controversy. The consensus of professional scientists is overwhelming.
Nevertheless, climate change contrarians and deniers persist and what is really scary, is that some of them hold astonishing positions of influence.
Just last week, Dana Rohrabacher, a member of the GOP House Science Committee shockingly perpetuated climate change disinformation invoking a global conspiracy theory.
“Just so you’ll know, global warming is a total fraud and it’s being designed because what you’ve got is you’ve got liberals who get elected at the local level want state government to do the work and let them make the decisions,” Rohrabacher said. “Then, at the state level, they want the federal government to do it. And at the federal government, they want to create global government to control all of our lives.”
It is one thing for wingnuts in tinfoil helmets hiding out in bomb shelters in the desert to believe such malarkey, but this is an elected representative, a member of a powerful so-called “science” committee.
What is perhaps even scarier is the level and broad base of blind support these contrarians enjoy.
One person going by the Boston.com handle ppannos commenting on the Huffington Post article about Rohrabacher’s remarks wrote:
“I haven’t seen any proof of (what is it called today.. global warming.. earth ice age?) ohh climate change. Can you provide proof please?”
The proof has never been more abundant or easier and faster to get access to, but it’s hard to combat the level of wilful ignorance people like ppannos exhibit.
The good news is, some contrarians are starting to come around in the face of the overwhelming evidence and changing tactics, such as saying climate change will be good for us.
That’s a whole other debate, but a better one for us to be having.