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The social anatomy of climate change denial in the United States

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February 14, 2024

Using data from Twitter (now X), this study deploys artificial intelligence (AI) and network analysis to map and profile climate change denialism across the United States. We estimate that 14.8% of Americans do not believe in climate change. This denialism is highest in the central and southern U.S. However, it also persists in clusters within states (e.g., California) where belief in climate change is high. Political affiliation has the strongest correlation, followed by level of education, COVID-19 vaccination rates, carbon intensity of the regional economy, and income. The analysis reveals how a coordinated social media network uses periodic events, such as cold weather and climate conferences, to sow disbelief about climate change and science, in general. Donald Trump was the strongest influencer in this network, followed by conservative media outlets and right-wing activists. As a form of knowledge vulnerability, climate denialism renders communities unprepared to take steps to increase resilience. As with other forms of misinformation, social media companies (e.g., X, Facebook, YouTube, TikTok) should flag accounts that spread falsehoods about climate change and collaborate on targeted educational campaigns.

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Journal Article
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Full Citation

Gounaridis, D., Newell, J.P. The social anatomy of climate change denial in the United States. Sci Rep 14, 2097 (2024). CSS24-08