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Climate

How Climate Denial Is Changing

On the rise of "new" denial, shipping emissions, and nocturnal mountain goats

How Climate Denial Is Changing
Heatmap Illustration/Getty Images

Current conditions: Nashville recorded sub-zero temperatures for only the second time since 1996 • Heavy rains left at least 11 dead in Rio de Janeiro • Invasive and deadly fire ants have been spotted “rafting” on Australian flood waters.

THE TOP FIVE

1. Climate denial tactics are changing

The climate denial movement has entered a new phase, suggests new research from the Center for Countering Digital Hate (CCDH). The study analyzed transcripts of more than 12,000 climate-related YouTube videos posted since 2018 and found evidence that “old denial” narratives (Global warming isn’t real! Humans have nothing to do with it!) are becoming less common as the effects of climate change become undeniable. But they’re being replaced by what the researchers call “new denial” tactics. These narratives focus on discrediting climate solutions like renewable energy projects and electric vehicles, or downplaying the harmful effects of global warming. “New denial” claims more than tripled since 2018; “old denial” claims were down by one-third.

CCDH

The shift exposes a gap in YouTube’s disinformation policies: While the platform has cracked down on advertising on videos that deny outright that climate change is real, no such rules exist for the wave of “new denial.” The study estimates YouTube could be making up to $13.4 million per year in ad revenue from channels that promote denial. “Given that the battleground has shifted and the new denial is the biggest component of climate denial content overall, it’s time for them to extend their rules to that as well,” Imran Ahmed, founder and chief executive officer of the CCDH, toldBloomberg Green.

2. Shipping emissions on the rise due to Red Sea conflict

Greenhouse gas emissions from the shipping sector are increasing due to ongoing disruption in the Red Sea, Reutersreports. The Red Sea is the gateway to the Suez Canal, which offers a quick route for ships transporting goods from Asia to Europe. Iranian-backed Houthi rebels have been attacking ships in the region in response to the Israel-Hamas war. To avoid the conflict, vessels are taking longer routes via the southern tip of Africa and burning more fuel as a result. The average container vessel transporting goods from China to Rotterdam via the Suez Canal would spew about 41,000 tons of carbon dioxide, but that total jumps to 55,000 tons if that ship has to go the long way, Reuters says. And as ships increase their speeds to make up for lost time, they produce even more pollution. International shipping already accounts for about 2% of global energy-related CO2, according to the International Energy Agency.

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  • 3. Southeast Asia boosts solar and wind capacity by 20%

    Southeast Asia has increased its solar- and wind-power capacity by 20% in the last year, according to a new report from Global Energy Monitor (GEM). The analysis looks at the energy mix across 10 countries that make up the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). These include Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Cambodia. It finds that solar and wind account for 9% of electricity generating capacity in the region, and flags Vietnam as being a regional leader. When combined with hydropower, geothermal, and bioenergy, this brings the ASEAN bloc’s renewable capacity to 32%, which is very near its goal of 35% by 2025. GEM says this target is therefore “unambitious.” The report cautions that fossil fuel use is likely to rise in the region as “energy demands are outpacing utility-scale solar and wind development.”

    4. Mountain goats are becoming more nocturnal

    Mountain goats are daytime creatures, and they usually do most of their foraging while the sun is up. But as global temperatures rise, they are becoming more active at night, according to a new study seen by The Guardian. Researchers from the University of Sassari, in Sardinia, tracked the behaviors of the Alpine ibex goat over 13 years and found that on especially warm days, the animals were more likely to be active at night, even though this put them at higher risk of being attacked by predators. “We can expect that during the night when the temperature is lower other animals will shift their activity towards the nocturnal hours,” Francesca Brivio, who co-authored the study, tells The Guardian. “If during the day it is too hot to eat or to be active, they will prefer to perform all their activities, like foraging, at night.”

    5. Tracking 2000 years of climate change

    Climate scientist Ed Hawkins, creator of the warming stripes, put together a detailed graphic that tracks changes in the climate system alongside important milestones in human history, such as the invention of the steam engine and the discovery of global warming. “In every case, the recent changes are rapid and unusual compared to before human influence on the climate,” he says. Take a look:

    Ed Hawkins

    THE KICKER

    “Do you think those CEOs are going to say, ‘Oh my God, they just elected a new president, let's go back and build internal combustion engine cars?’ Not on your life. Not happening.” –U.S. climate envoy John Kerry on whether a second Trump presidency would halt America’s clean energy transition

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    Jessica  Hullinger profile image

    Jessica Hullinger

    Jessica Hullinger is a freelance writer and editor who likes to think deeply about climate science and sustainability. She previously served as Global Deputy Editor for The Week, and her writing has been featured in publications including Fast Company, Popular Science, and Fortune. Jessica is originally from Indiana but lives in London.

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