Talking Truth About Climate Change Matters

Canadians will be voting this fall in a federal election and one party is running with the mantra that reality isn’t real. Specifically that our current climate crisis doesn’t exist and that climate change as a concept is false. How anyone can vote for such an unethical party is beyond me. Regardless of my confusions, Elections Canada has decided that talking about climate change is now considered partisan.

The good news here isn’t in Canada, it’s in the rest of the world. Recent studies have shown that giving reality deniers airtime on the news changes the discourses around climate change for the worse. The research has led to changes in how media companies approach who they have on their shows when talking about the environment. It’s time that we all hold people accountable for denying the reality of our climate crisis.

“It’s time to stop giving these people visibility, which can be easily spun into false authority,” University of California Merced Professor Alex Petersen said in a statement. Peterson was one of three scientists who traced the digital footprints of climate deniers and scientists across 100,000 media articles for a study in Nature Communications. They discovered about half of mainstream outlets actively seek out climate change denying experts for coverage.

In the new research, Petersen and colleagues looked at 386 prominent climate deniers and 386 climate scientists. They looked at 200,000 scientific journals and 100,000 media articles—from both traditional and new formats. Their findings showed climate change deniers were 49 percent more visible to audiences than climate change scientists. Where media sources adhere to traditional editorial standards, the visibility of the two groups was on par. The only area where scientists had prominence was within scientific publications. New media, they say, “facilitates the production and mass distribution of assertive content” by climate change deniers, “which intentionally or not, crowds out the authoritative message of real” climate scientists.

Read more.

Plus, if you’re interested in what you can do about the discourse around climate change:

People Who Trust News Sources More Likely to Identify Fake News

Argument analysis flowchart
Figure 1 from Cook, Ellerton, and Kinkead 2018. CC BY 3.0

A recent survey to find out who is susceptible to “fake news” found that people who hate the media were more likely to misidentify misleading information. The research studied a few thousand individuals in the USA about their thoughts on news sources and their education. In an ironic twist those that believe in fake news couldn’t identify what was fake. The findings of the research found that higher education and older age both were factors in being able to find the fake headlines.

That divide — a positive or negative reaction to “news” — mapped onto a number of other elements the researchers surveyed.

For instance, people were given three at least somewhat plausible headlines and ledes that might appear in their local newspaper. Two were real; one was fake. Those with positive attitudes fared better in figuring out which was which. In Kansas City, 82 percent of the half-glass-full types figured out which was fake, versus only 69 percent of the half-glass-empties. (The fake headline? “New study: Nearly half the nation’s scientists now reject evolution.”)

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VLC Demonstrates the Awesomeness of the FOSS Movement

VLC plays anything you can throw at it as it’s an amazing piece of software. The application is focussed on doing one thing really well: playing media. It’s so good because of the philosophy behind it, known as Free and open-source software (FOSS). Meaning that anybody anywhere can contribute to the source code and make VLC better, and everybody can download it for free. It’s hippy meets technology – essentially VLC is the most cyberpunk and useful application you can have on your computer.

Jean-Baptiste Kempf is one of the core developers of VLC and in the interview above you can see how and why he supports the FOSS movement through VLC.

Louder is a New Website Designed to Increase Your Media Impact

Louder is a new site that aims to bring important news that is usually ignored to the forefront. The site does this in two ways which revolves around Twitter: organic stories can get attention or organizations can sponsor some of the content they want to spread. This could get more attention for fringe candidates in elections to local issues that deserve larger attention.

After an intensive, four-month accelerator program, Matter – the world’s only startup accelerator focused on independent media – recently launched its 3rd class of portfolio companies. Readers interested in new technology that organically pushes worthy, underreported stories up into the mainstream spotlight, will want to know about louder, a news amplification platform that mixes crowdsourcing and content marketing to help people shape what gets promoted in our culture.

Check out Louder.

BBC Drastically Improves Science Coverage and Debate

The BBC is finally doing something that all media organizations should do – don’t let crazy people derail important debates. For this entire millennium mass media organizations have invited reality-denying people to debates on issues like climate change. This causes the issue to not actually be talked about.

No more will climate change deniers and other wackos be welcome on the BBC. Hopefully other media organizations will follow suit.

To illustrate the ridiculousness of having one fringe “expert” come in to undermine a scientific consensus, the report points to the network’s coverage of the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which in September released a report concluding, with 95 percent certainty, that man-made climate change is happening. As was their due diligence, BBC reporters called a dozen prominent U.K. scientists, trying to drum up an opposing viewpoint. When that didn’t happen — probably because 97 percent of scientists agree that man-made climate change is happening — they turned instead to retired Australian geologist Bob Carter, who has ties to the industry-affiliated Heartland Institute.

To be clear, having one guy dismiss the consensus of hundreds of the world’s top climate scientists as “hocus-pocus science” wasn’t the “balanced” thing to do, and the only reason why people like Carter continue to be taken seriously is because news networks continue to suggest they should be.

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