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Climate denial on YouTube

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A new report suggests that sceptical videos about climate change on YouTube continued to increase even though 2023 was the hottest year ever with billions suffering from extreme heat, droughts, wildfires or floods.

The study, by the Centre for Countering Digital Hate (CCDH), analysed the scripts of more than 12,000 videos drawn from 100 YouTube channels that promote climate denial, often citing ‘experts’ or discredited research. The videos concerned have been viewed around 325 million times.

While the volume of ‘denial’ stories has increased, the study found there has been a switch in tactics away from the disinformation videos claiming either that “Global warming is not happening” or that “Human-generated greenhouse gasses are not causing global warming”.

The current crop of denial videos, faced with the personal experience of people around the world and more restrictive YouTube policies on climate disinformation instead try to undermine the case for action with claims such as: “The impacts of global warming are beneficial or harmless”; “Climate solutions won’t work” or “Climate science and the climate movement are unreliable”.

While YouTube says that it prohibits ads from running on material that “contradicts well-established scientific consensus around the existence and causes of climate change”, it does allow “debates or discussions”. The CCDH estimates that YouTube is making up to $13.4 million a year from ads on the channels studied.

Photo by Tobias Rademacher on Unsplash


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