Climate change deniers have clearly set back human progress and delayed us in reducing emissions, obviously that’s no good. What is good is that they barely exist anymore. The science has always been done properly around climate change and people are living the chaos that climate change has caused; it’s as impossible to deny as a round Earth. Conversations are no longer hijacked by people who deny climate reality, and that’s a good thing.
How do we know this? Some researchers set out to determine how present climate change denialism was online only to find it declining. A really need potential spinoff from this research is how to look into other aspects of people denying science and how to engage them to better understand reality.
In a study out this week in the journal Nature Scientific Reports, researchers found that outright denying the science is going out of fashion. Today, only about 10 percent of arguments from conservative think tanks in North America challenge the scientific consensus around global warming or question models and data. (For the record, 99.9 percent of scientists agree that human activity is heating up the planet.) Instead, the most common arguments are that scientists and climate advocates simply can’t be trusted, and that proposed solutions won’t work.
It took Cook and his team about five years to create a machine learning model that was able to reliably detect real-life climate misinformation claims. “Misinformation is messy and doing content analysis is messy, because the real world is always a bit blurry,” Cook said. First, they developed a taxonomy to sort arguments into broad categories — say, “climate change isn’t bad” — narrower claims (“carbon dioxide is not a pollutant”) and even more specific points (“CO2 is food for plants!”). Then they fed common climate myths into the machine until it was able to recognize each one consistently out in the wild.