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Climate Change Indicators and Media Interference Research Paper

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Updated: Aug 12th, 2022

Introduction

One of the most significant issues that may concern humanity, climate change, is rapidly growing with no possibility to adapt to it. There is no certainty in the bright future for the Earth in the long-term perspective considering the devastating aftereffects that the phenomenon might bring. Nowadays, indicators foster efforts to foresee the impacts and derail and minimize the damage that people may encounter in case of unawareness. There is a need for a viable strategy that can be implemented in forestalling disasters. Governing authorities in every nation are looking into climate change indicators’ measurements to make corresponding actions.

Projects and data often do not reach society through streams of media. While portrayed as made up or fake, if not taken seriously, climate change carries serious repercussions with melting glaciers, catastrophic storms, drought, and depletion of food sources as opponents use social media for their agenda. Drought, higher than average temperatures, melting glaciers, and acidic waters are currently wreaking havoc worldwide, and it is only the beginning. Indicators of climate change call for a thoughtful and quick response from governments.

The Present Climate State and Indicators

The indicators are essential to evaluate the scale of the growing or decreasing issue and examine the trend over time. As the Earth had been going through many perils for millions of years, swings of factoring temperatures have diverged variably by season. Nonetheless, over the last 50 years, scientists have been watching and recording the constant pivotal changes in climate, which will have an enormous impact in the near future (NOAA).

For example, in the figure below, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) displays National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA) data on seasons’ average temperature for the 48 states within the U.S. between 1896-2020. The data provided by NOAA is considered to be one of the most accurate. Seasons are defined as follows: winter (December, January, February), spring (March, April, May), summer (June, July, August), and fall (September, October, November). The baseline is important to clearly illustrate the change over the years. It was obtained by taking the average of 1901-2000.

Average Seasonal Temperatures in the Contiguous 48 States, 1896-2020.
Figure 1. Average Seasonal Temperatures in the Contiguous 48 States, 1896-2020.

Climate Indicators and data compiled of the United States 48, between 1896-2020 for changes in seasonal temperatures. The baseline used for this graph is derived from the years 1901-2000 for facilitating data descriptions of change. The graphs show an increase in temperatures just above 2.75 degrees, reaching 3 degrees, over time in all four seasons. The most visible change is depicted in the graph, which illustrates the temperature change in the winter season.

The most considerable shift in temperature has occurred over the recent 30 years, demonstrating that innovation and population increase facilitate natural disasters. Trends consist of smaller snowpacks, glacier and ice accumulations, and increased temperatures in the winter and summer months. Thousands of animals are losing their shelters and food; massive deforestation and fires are a few of the precedents that take place with the changing temperature. The indicators prove the ground behind the fear of many ecologists and scientists of the global catastrophe which will transform the principal life on Earth.

Social Media and Interpretation of Data

The role of social media has drastically changed the normal flow of information in society over the last decade. According to Mitchell et al., an increasingly large portion of the world’s population (more than 50%) now rely on social media for news (1). The development of social media has its pros and cons. On the other hand, many individuals have gained popularity and obtained a job through the number of followers of their public social media pages. People can network, attract others, interact, make connections all over the globe, and implement current news events through the internet. As a result, the influence of such figures became higher than that of relevant scientific findings.

On the other hand, the number of non-credible sources, which eradicate facts and truth to populate confusion, has risen. The new information is usually thrown into an abyss of misrepresentations within social media streams. Psychological specialists suggest that people tend to create personal premises or belief systems (USGCRP). Thus, the news in the media, which is not evidence-based, causes polarization of the opinion in the audience. Inasmuch, beliefs are one of the most important things people have, driving the human premise and fostering decisions (USGCRP). Human beliefs are a derivative of social origins and social spread. As humans adopt beliefs from each other in a community, social media is a potentially vibrant vice against truth and facts.

The Formation of Beliefs

The relationship between the formation of one’s belief and the surrounding environment has been discussed in countless psychological, and sociological articles. Cailin O’Connor writes that a political era is riven by fake “news,” “alternative facts,” and “disputes” instead of trustworthy sources (8). The examples of climate change or the size of inauguration crowds convincingly show that what a person believes depends on who he or she knows (O’Connor 10). In the event that social forces can clarify the working mode of deceptions, individuals should see how these forces work to adequately oppose falsifications. As propaganda entices public sentiment, there are interest groups that try to control and confound information. The intertwining between social factors and science can create an endless cycle of false conceptions.

It is difficult to articulate the exact reason for global warming ignorance. Research has shown that a central motivation for skepticism, or denial of climate change, is brought by social media venues (Lewandowsky 3). World views become motivated by influential cues in media that generate conspiracy theories. Conspiracy theories often use efforts to deny science to derail facts, leading one to believe the deception. However, Stephan Lewandowsky, Professor in Psychology, claims that one claims that it is possible to introduce clashing perspectives without misdirecting by offering weight-of-proof or weight-of-specialists data (12). This technique supports more factual convictions while additionally recognizing views.

The Terrifying Outcome of Climate Change

The repercussions of misinformation being promulgated in media transfer to others lead the public to believe false information and stay passive about the current problem. The longer people decide to keep generating carbon footprint, which will irreversibly harm the Earth. It is empirical that people continually evaluate the global situation and demand others to make rapid steps toward the rehabilitation of the planet as its dwellers. The consequences of the current pandemic situation cannot be compared to the effect of depleting sources and, more importantly, climate change.

The Impact of Climate Change on Food System

The trickle-down effect of vital food sources has become ravaged by current climate factors. For example, climate change indicators showed drought and floods in places that had never seen such devastation before the pandemic (Climate Change Indicators: the U.S. and Global Temperature). Reports also dictated that loads for truck drivers decreased immensely as drought and floods destroyed farmlands (Wojciak). The food system faces many severe challenges, and it is not the only issue that is brought about by climate change. The current food system is already high for severity, as statistical reports mark more concern.

One truck remarked that farms were underwater, animal carcasses were afloat, yet they were dry to the bone in other places. “All of the changes that are possible to occur in our food system depend on whether our climate change trajectory is more in line with the lower or higher emission scenarios” (Wojciak). Therefore, the availability of resources is highly dependent on the outcomes of global warming.

Conclusion

The popularity of social media in the modern world has developed a closed vacuum where information is constructed based on someone’s opinion and irrelevant information that has no connection to actual facts. This has contributed to the misleading of the citizens and ignorance of real problems, which can deteriorate the situation. Credibility and facts are best in combatting opposing views to reach the center of truth.

The time that is necessary for people to figure out the truth might not be available as the global problem is on the verge. Climate shifts or their indicators show past, current, and future models as a desperate means for educating and formulating alliances globally to combat misinformation in media. Countries should join the efforts to reduce the harmful effects and work on repairing the damage to the ecosystem while there is still a chance.

Works Cited

Lewandowsky, Stephan. “Climate Change Disinformation and How to Combat It.” Annual Review of Public Health, vol. 42, no. 1, 2021, pp. 1–21. Web.

Mitchell, Amy, Katie Simmons, Katerina Eva Matsa, and Laura Silver. “Pew Research Center’s Global Attitudes Project. Pew Research Center. 2019. Web.

NOAA National Centers for Environmental information, Climate at a Glance: Global Mapping. Web.

“Climate Change Indicators: U.S. and Global Temperature | US EPA.” US EPA, 2016. Web.

O’Connor, Cailin, and James Owen Weatherall. The Misinformation Age. Illustrated, Yale University Press, 2019.

USGCRP (U.S. Global Change Research Program). 2017. Climate science special report: Fourth National Climate Assessment, volume I. Wuebbles, D.J., D.W. Fahey, K.A. Hibbard, D.J. Dokken, B.C. Stewart, and T.K. Maycock (eds.). Web.

Wojciak, Kaitlin Koch. “How Will Climate Change Impact the Food System? (Part 1).” MSU Extension. 2017. Web.

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